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JULY 2019
Animal Health Focus
JULY 2019
Animal Health Focus
paddock system is in place allowing ease of movement
and handling of stock. There is a lot of emphasis
on soil fertility with Ken regularly monitoring grass
and reseeding as required. Lime has been applied
as required and Ken has noted significant positive
responses on the farm, some of which is heavy land.
Phosphorous and Potassium levels are also regularly
monitored and assessed. Contractors carry out most of
the machinery jobs on the farm. He participates in all of
the relevant cattle programmes including GLAS, BDGP
and BEEP and acknowledges the financial importance
of them to the farm income. In addition to the relevant
land and animal productivity figures, Ken also has
access to a range of environmental figures including
carbon footprint and carbon navigator calculations for
the farm. Allowing for the exceptional drought-induced
hiccup on all Irish farms last year, Ken Grahams average
cattle diet consists of up to ninety percent grass and
grass silage.
An e ective health programme
Ken follows a tried and tested animal health protocol on
his farm: "Describing it on a twelve-month basis from
housing, we bring in the cows for the winter and they
receive their vaccine as well as getting a pre-calving
mineral supplement. We give a salmonella vaccine.
That's a necessity because of previous problems. I
continue to vaccinate for BVD even though we haven't
had a PI. We participated in the BVD programme
from the start including the voluntary year
at the beginning of the programme.
That's seven years of BVD testing.
In the last couple of years
scour has become a problem
and so we vaccinate with
Rotacorona. We don't
vaccinate with the
seven-in-one clostridial
vaccination as there are
no problems. We only
ever had one incidence
of blackleg and we
cleared that up by
replacing some soil and
reseeding in a particular
field that was the source of
the problem."
"The key to it all is to have
a compact calving period
which means I can give the
vaccinations and boosters at
the right time to all the herd
without bringing in di erent
cows or calves at di erent times.
I work o -farm so everything has
to be done as time e ciently
as possible. Between Christmas
and New Year I normally give all
the cows a fluke and worm dose even though some
people argue against that approach. I introduce one of
the vaccines at that stage, with another one around the
middle of January. Cows start calving in the February-
March period."
"For the calf health programme, they normally get only
two worm doses during the Summer based on the
weather and how the calves themselves are performing
and if there are clear signs of a need to dose. Normally
the bull is removed on the longest day of the year or the
Saturday nearest to that date as it fits in with my of-farm
job. Cows with heifer calves and cows with bulls are
segregated and all calves dosed with a Summer worm
dose. They usually get another worm dose in September
and that completes the programme until Christmas
when we're back into the cow health programme of
vaccinations and doses."
Cost e ective approach
Ken watches costs at the same time as ensuring that his
investment in animal health is working e ectively: "My
preference in dosing is to use injectables as they are
cheaper and equally e ective and I think, very reliable.
There's a bit more management and handling time
involved but I have good facilities so it works well for
me. I also moved over to fluke and worm injectables
rather than two individual treatments and that works
well. We don't have an issue with fluke. We get a report
back from the meat factory on liver status and other
health monitoring and nothing has shown up. The
farm has a mixture of heavy and light soil but we aren't
getting any problems around fluke. The factory cattle are
kept mostly on the drier part and we keep the situation
Eliminating grass tetany
Grass tetany is a regular problem on suckler as well as
dairy farms. Ken Graham has no problems in that regard,
as he took positive action to eliminate the risk: "We put
a magnesium dispenser in the water system twenty
years ago and that has brought very positive results in
that we haven't had any grass tetany outbreak since
then. Cows can only drink from the troughs and we put
in a dedicated water supply for them. We make up the
magnesium additive and the pump distributes it in the
water network. That has eliminated another potential
health problem so it's one less thing to worry about."
"We only ever had one
incidence of blackleg and we
cleared that up by replacing
some soil and reseeding in
a particular field that was
the source of the problem."