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March 2010 - Posts

  • Genetic predictors

    Discussion on farm with an individual who sells Holstein Friesian embryos, cows and bulls. He stated that in the US the sale of stock now has a greater focus on genetic predictors of  lifetime production than on cow families and cow type. Genomic testing of bulls and progeny for sale of stock is now a common feature of show and sales in America.

  • Johne's disease in cattle

    Visited a farm yesterday with a pedigree Limousin herd which  had tested positive  for Johne's disease.  This disease causes severe dehabilation  and death in cattle.  Identification of animals is critical and to remove same from the herd.  Spread of this disease can occurs through  colostrum, in Uetro or can also be spread through faeces.

  • Bovine Viral Diarrohea

    Visited a farm today which had  40 suckler cows which had a body condition score ranging from 1 to 2. Approximately 50% of the animals were pregnant and the remainder were empty. A group of calves on the farm  between 2 and 6 months were blind.  The clinical symptons observed  on this farm co-incide with a severe outbreak of BVD.  The herd situation was so severe that I advised the client to depopulate the herd as it would not justify to vaccinate.

  • Foetal Abnormalities

    Today we picked up a foetal abnormality in a pregnancy of 45 days of gestation.  Where we pick up a foetal abnormality , we recommend that the client present the animal at a subsequent visit for a repeat scan 4-6 weeks later.In most  of the cases presented , those animals 90% of the cases presented -our records would indicate that the foetus would forego foetal death prior to the next visit.  In some cases,the foetus,it results in a genetic abnormal calf born.  We have noted cases where a recommendation to the client to have a blodd sample taken from the animal concerned.for BVD to subsequently show that this animal was persistently infected with BVD.

  • Impact of excessive body condition loss post calving

    Currently farmers in Spring calving systems are being promoted to supplemnt the diet simply with 2 to 4 kilograms of Citrus pulp to meet requirements psot calving. This in my opinion is totally insufficient  and will result in excessive body loss. It is my contention that animals should lose no more than half of a Body Condition Score. This would be approximately 25 kgs in the first 50 days post calving. From our experience to date in Spring calving herds,Cows are  loosing in excess of a full Body Condition score post calving based on the start of the Body condition score of the cows pre-calving versus those that are calved  6 to 7 weeks at this stage.  This will have serious implications in terms of reproductive performance  in 3/4 weeks time as cows are scanned.

  • Donkey harnessed to a bull

    On a call today with a herd of charolais cattle.The client has a donkey harnessed to a bull for purposes of training the animal to be haltered  trained.  Client  uses this routine for training all his bulls and heifers for show purposes.  The routine is practiced  on a number of farms as it reduces the work load and helps with the training of animals.

  • Parthenaise Bulls

    With a client recently who has Parthenais bulls. On a fattening ration -light weight gains ranging from 3.58 kilos back down to 2.6 kilos per day. These rates are incredible. The Parthenaise bulls are very impressive  in terms of type and have not seen great recognition in Ireland for their growth rates and overall structural rates.


  • Lameness in dairy cows

    On calls in North of Ireland, there is a major issue with lameness  in dairy cows housed indoors for 6 moths of the winter.  At this time of year, lameness associated with either dermatitis or foot rot becomes a major issue regarding overall stress  on the animals.  Foot- bathing of the cows on a routine basis is required to control  and prevent these disease spreading to the herd.  Foot-baths need to replenished routinely to avoid contamination of the foot-bath with faces-otherwise the exercise is futile.

  • Impact of Poor Body condition score on ovarian activity.

    Scaned a herd of  60 dairy cows -freshly calved.Body Condition score of cows ranged from 1.5 to 2.5. 90% of the cows presented did not show oestrous.  This was contributed to  excess body weight loss post calving as the dry cow group were in good body condition pre-calving.  The client did not realise that the Body condition score was so poor and accepted that  the silage quality was poor but also insufficient dry matter intake was a problem on the farm.

  • Mild weather

    Tuesday of this past week was the first mild morning for the past five weeks.  Soil temperatures though are still between 2 and  3 degrees and have yet to reach the desired 6/7 degress to facilitate regrowth of grass.

  • scanning cows calved greater than 12 days.

    On March 16th 2010, started our first pre-breed  reproductive scan on dairy herds prior to beginning of  breeding programs in about a week from now.  Some farmers like to start breeding immediately after christmas and reproductive assesment  now allows them sufficient time to address cows with fertility problems and also facilitates the identification of underlying  herd health problems.  In the herd examined , 85% of the cows were reproductively sound which is above the target level of 70%. We examined all cows that are calved greater than 12 days to make an assesment on same.

  • mixture of rolled barley,maize wheat and soya beans

    Visited a herd of cows in Kerry. The farmer has hereford cows and Friesian Bull calves.  These were fattened and fed a mixture of rolled barley, maize meal and soya beans.  The calves reached an  a weight of 520 kilograms for average age of 13 months.  The economies of this system of production should be evaluated as it provides an  outlet for male offspring from the dairy herd and with these  weights being achieved,is an acceptable finishing weight for processing at a factory.  The system suits the farmer in question as he grows his own barley on an outside farm and the hereford results in ease of calving and it is still suitable for beef production.  The farmer prefers the hereford over the limousin as a cross as the stock are more docile and the calves are alot easier to rear on milk replacer.

  • Winter Milk Production

    With Dairy herds here in Co Kerry today.  The number of dairy farmers  focusing on winter milkm production is declining.  The issues surrounding this pertain to Kerry Co-op failing to maintain an interest  in winter milk production.Farmers consider themselves to be poorly paid for the effort of going into winter milk production and therefore reducing their emphasis on same. 


  • Impact of suckling affect on reproductive performance

    Visited a herd in County Kerry today.  Pedigree Limousin cows  with single suckling  animals combined indoors.  Calving in September and October, had a major issue with  heat detection and on advice, separated the cows from  the calves on a once a day basis for feeding.  Dramatically, improved heat detection & pregnancy rate to first service  was 72%.

  • Oestrus Synchronization

    Oestrus Synchronization is not fool proof. Visited a farm with a herd of Limousin cows this morning which had been previously  synchronized using intra  vaginal progesterone devices,prostaglandin treatment and fixed time insemination.  The pregnancy scan not alone had resulted in a pregnancy rate  below 30% but also the majority of cows that were diagnosed not pregnant were still in an in oestrus state.  Further investigation indicated that although Body Condition Score was an acceptable range, there was a severe issue here regarding confinment stress, with too many animals housed in a small area and  animals lying in ''steps''  Dried matter digestibility analysis for the silage indicated a 61% dmd.  These factors individually or in combination will result in an-oestrus phase being retained post calving and failure to resume normal ovarian activity after progesterone treatment. 


  • Pre pubertal state, environmental stressors

    On a farm near Catlewellan in County Down.  Scanned a group of friesian heifers which had previously been scanned to determine  which were fit and not fit for breeding.  On the previous scan, there was a group of heifers identified as pre pubertal.  I suggested that, these animals  which were of size for breeding but were not cycling , be isolated separately.  The client gave them extra space, put them in with a stock bull and gave them extra feeding.  On the scan today ,9 out of 10  animals that were previously  identified as being pre pubertal, were pregnant and pregnant to the heat between 3 and 6 days after the previous scan.  This is evidence that removal of environmental stressors will prepare animals for enhanced fertility.

  • optimum health of the herd

    Up here in a farm in County Leitrim. Farmers are pleased to  see that Lakelands are offering 5% per  litre bonus on milk for producing 45% of Maize Production in the month of November  and again  5% per litre bonus for producing 35% of Maize production in February.  This is aimed at reducing the peak to trough ratio in milk supply as the capital costs  & variable costs assocaited with the creameries for processing milk favour a more even supply of milk throught the season.  In the Northern part of the Country  there is a longer Winter- animals  have to be housed for greater periods of time and it is definitely a requisite that cows be fed to achieve the optimum health in the herd.  It suits  farmers to  have a high production type cow because of  farm fragmentation.  They can only carry smaller numbers of animals and therefore accept a longer calving to pregnancy interval. 


  • Sucklers, cows pregnancy rate

    In County Tipperary scanned a suckler herd which was split into first calvers and multiparous cows.  Very significant was the suckling affect on the first calvers as a high proportion of these were calved 5 months.  15% of those were not cycling  where as all of the multi parous cows were in calf. 

  • Johne's disease

    On a farm in County Armagh with a large dairy herd. of 80 cows milking. 30 cows were diagnosed with  Johne's disease.  This is a very high incidence  and it is extremely difficult to explain considering that in calf heifers were purchased into the herd and some of these have been identifed with the disease. Farmers are advised not to feed colostrum  or milk in cases where Johne's  disease is an issue.Clinically these cows had poor body condition.  There was no evidence  of Johne's amongst the cows to indicate signs of this disease.  The cows identified carrying the disease were extremely tired and  found it difficult to move from their cubicles.  The biggest worry at present for the farmer in question is an issue associated with transmission of the disease from cow to cow. 



  • costs of production, poor cash flow,decline in milk producers

    Visited farms in Co Cavan this past week.Spoke to a lorry driver that collects milk for the  creameries.  He notified me that he has noticed a significnat decline in the number of producers delivering the quantities of milk on a daily run basis.  He is down 11,000 litres compared to this time last year.  Costs of production, inability to purchase cattle because of overdraft facilities being tightened up by the banks, poor cash  flow  have debilitated against the purchase of stock and the incentive to produce milk by supplementation of concentrates has seen costs reduced dramatically. 


  • milk replacements

    Farmers are feeding milk replacement rather than whole milk as the price per litre for milk replacer is 17 cent while while milk is  18 cent.  It's still favourable to  use  milk replacer.  Also farmers  find it more convienent  and there are   less digestove upsets associated with varying milk quality. 


  • tail paint as an aid to heat detection

    Visited a pedigree Angus herd  recently in Cork using AI as the sole method of breeding.  A Major issue with heat detection  is associated with cows on concrete slatts using tail paint as an aid in heat detection.  However, too much tail paint applied to tail heads and the hair was not removed prior to tail painting.  The objective with tail painting as an aid to heat detection is to apply a narrow strip of tail paint no more than 2 inches wide and six inches long from anterior to the tail head.   If animals are confined to a restricted area to lie down ,signs of heat will be poor and animals can often stop cycling post calving.

  • Abcess's in animals

    Visited 2 farms recently in County Down. Animals injected for control of fluke had large abcess's on the side of  where the injection  had been given,  Is this a local reaction or associated with dirty needles ?  It needs to be addressed as all of the  animals had lost considerable weight.  All of the animals with abcess's post treatment had got reversed into a pre-pubertal state, lost weight and will  not be fit for breeding for some time.

  • Vaccination program

    On a farm today using a vaccination program involving IBR, Lepto, and BVD.  A high incidence of infertility.  The vaccination program for BVD  entails a twice yearly  rather than once a year vaccination.  The client in question was only vaccinating once a year.

  • Retained afterbirths

    In a recent case study , the cows retaining the  afterbirths could be seen chewing the cud. No evidence of ill health for the first 48 hours after birth but then cows became seriously ill. 


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