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December 2010 - Posts

  • Eye infections can cause embryonic foetal death.

    Visited a farm in County Offaly Christmas week where a number of cows had slipped pregnancies and others had dead foeti present in the reproductive tract. Further investigation of same identified that all 5 cows with foetal deaths had eye infections which had no diagnostic explanation for same. However, the stress associated with these infections caused foetal death. Dr.Dan @
  • Brown Swiss cows not suitable to a dairy farmer in County Offaly.

    Visited a farm in Birr, County Offaly Christmas week with a pedigree herd of Brown Swiss cows. The farmer in question is getting out of this breed of cow as he finds that legs and feet are a major issue with them. The cows do not lie-up in the cubicles properly and end up with a tremendous number of hock and feet problems. Another major issue for the client is the ability to detect heats as he precives that the intensity of heat shown by the cows is very poor relative to other Friesian cows in the herd. He has made a decision to cross-breed the Friesian with the Brown Swiss cows to ultimately get out of all pedigree Brown Swiss in his herd.
  • High Milk proteins achievable in high production Holstein herds.

    Visited a Holstein herd outside Portadown Christmas week. This herd had a rolling herd average of 10,200 litres. Milk protein in this herd was 3.5% which is incredible for a high production type herd. Nutritional management of the herd is a key element in achieving the current milk status. They use the services of a Nutritionist to monitor feed inputs and overall welfare of the stock on the farm.. Monthly visits by the Nutritionist and reproductive management services in conjunction with same provide an overall management strategy to achieve the overall production targets. This requires post-calving reproductive assessment, pre-breed assessment and early non-pregnancy diagnosis. Dr.Dan @
  • Water is an absolute requirement for all animals .

    Visited a suckler herd in the Midlands before Christmas where water was not available to animals for the previous week. The farmer considered the fact that he was feeding silage to the animals and the requirements for water would be minimal and that the animals would get by. However, I knew that the animals were thirsty and were in need of water. They appeared extremely stressed. The faeces’ of the animals concerned were extremely dry. The incidence of embryonic death among animals pregnant in the window 30 to 50 days was 20%. This is extremely high and in my opinion associated with the fact that cows had not got water in the previous week. The farmer could not believe my findings and immediately undertook to travel to get water from a tanker. Dr.Dan @
  • Freezing temperatures

    In County Derry today temperatures @ 12.30 p.m is -12°C,Travelling back over the Glenshane Pass, conditions extremely difficult. Lucky to get through it. Road conditions are hazardous with no grit. Happy Christmas to all readers. Dr.Dan @
  • Heifers with stunted development.

    Visited a client in County Limerick who presented a group of heifers which had stunted development. He tried to explain that the animals had been affected with pi3. He had no vaccination programme in place. High anti-body levels for BVD and IBR no vaccination programme in place. While I questioned him on the nutrition of the cows, he informed me that he had no dry cow mineral supplement. Everything came down to minimizing costs but no understanding in place in terms of ground rules for effective immune system support. I suggested that he get silage and milk analysis completed for the full profile of major minerals associated with overall health in the herd. I also explained to him as an example that copper was involved in the last 50 various enzmagic reactions in the body and that limiting intake of copper would have some detrimental effects on an immune system function, thereby allowing the establishment of other diseases in the herd. A message from this is treating the fire without addressing the underlying problems will only quench the fire for a short period Dr.Dan @
  • Prostaglandin treatment

    Visited a client today who presented a group of heifers to assess reproductive status as he was fearful that stock bull had gained access to them in error. While scanning them, I remarked that a number of animals had evidence of slipping pregnancies. He informed me that he had indeed injected these animals with prostaglandin to induce any animals that were pregnant to drop the foetus’s. However, he was then informed that the prostaglandin would not be effective at certain stages of pregnancies. This indeed was the case as we diagnosed that some of the animals pregnant having recently been treated with the prostaglandin treatment from 70 days of pregnancies onwards. My advice to the client was that prostaglandin treatment should be avoided as it can result in severe trauma to the reproductive tract of the animal which has been induced and is also a very was wasteful use of a drug in animals where there is no need for this form of treatment. Dr.Dan @
  • Ulstrasonography to check reproductive status before synchronisation

    Visited a farm in County Limerick today where a number of cows slipped pregnancies. It transpired that the animals had recently been AI’d on the basis that they were not pregnant. The animals had been synchronised to induce anoestrus and resulted in the animals slipping pregnancies. This client realised that he had made a major error in not assessing the reproductive suitability of the animals before breeding prior to synchronisation. These animals, in his opinion had failed to go in calf for Spring Calving system and had them synchronised to induce anoestrus to breed them for Autumn calving. Any situation like this, ultrasonography should be used to scan these animals. Dr.Dan @
  • Christmas Gift Idea

    Gift Vouchers and Dr.Dan's DVD - The 365-Day calving Interval challenge from Dr.Dan Ryan, Fermoy are currently on sale from the office. Contact 086 0244968.
  • Ultrasonography as a tool in embryo transfer

    Visited a client outside Ballymoney in County Antrim who presented a batch of maiden heifers for embryo transfer. The heifers had been synchronized with a reference heat. The client needed us to identify those heifers most suited as recipients for embryo transfer. Ultrasonography is an excellent tool to identify the reproductive status in terms of uterine horns, CL function and avoids the transfer of embryos to recipients that are not suitable. Using this procedure , we identify at least 10% of recipients that would not establish a pregnancy from an embryo transfer procedure and which would normally receive an embryo without use of ultrasonography. Dr.Dan @
  • Superovulation in genetically supreme cow.

    Visited a client in County Leitrim with a herd of Holstein Friesian cows this evening who presented a cow which has consistently produced in excess of 13,000 litres in a 305 day period over the past three lactations. The major plus in this cow is the fact that her milk constituents average for the past 3 lactations are 3.6 protein and 3.8 butterfat. The client wanted to prepare this animal for an embryo transfer program and I advised him to prepare the cow properly by putting her on a diet with a supplementation of minerals, vitamins and fish oils prepared in a package designed for the flushing of cows and produced by Devenish Nutrition located in Belfast. This company has completed a lot of research pertaining to the preparation of diets for cattle. The cow described above calved last April and is still producing 48 litres of milk on her last recording in November. The cow in question had been diagnosed pregnant carrying twins from an insemination in August but lost the pregnancies subsequently. Essentially this would be associated with completion among multiple foetuses and resulted in embryonic death. The reproductive tract has recovered from the trauma associated with the miscarriage and it is now suitable to undergo an embryo transfer programme and prepare then to calve down as a Spring calver the following year. Dr.Dan @
  • Identifying individual carriers for Johne's disease

    A number of farm visits indicate that the readings associated with tests for Johne’s disease may not identify individual carriers for the disease in the herd. Also examples of this which we have come across in the past week had bulk milk tank readings indicating no existence of Johne’s in the herd. Both clients had issues with individual cows in the herd and tested these animals. In both farm situations they identified animals that were highly positive for Johne’s disease. As there readings are averages, one has to be careful in the interpretation of bulk milk readings. Dr Dan @
  • Big freeze causing havoc with heat detection

    On calls today in around Limerick and Clare with Winter milk breeding programmes, pre-breed heat detection showing high percentage of cows with no previous recorded heats having ovulated in the previous week to 10 days.  This is associated with poor environmental conditions for the animals to express heat activity and the inability of clients to spend the time with the harsh weather conditions observing the cows in heat. Dr.Dan @ 


  • Severe weather conditions

    We had to change schedules this week because of extremely difficult driving conditions in the East Coast in particular through Wicklow to Wexford. It had been impossible to get to farms in this area and indeed farmers are unwilling to risk movement of animals out into yards that are frozen over the black ice. Farmers have been unable to get milk collected for processing. We have had cases where farmers have had to pre-maturely dry off cows which could normally be milked through the Winter for late Spring calving. Milk has not been collected in rural areas and this has resulted in the dumping of milk. A large number of clients in milk production in this area are in Winter and Spring milk production systems so milk production continues all year round. Unfortunately, these individuals cannot dry–off the cows in milk. Farmers have slow heaters used to raise the temperatures in the milk storage areas of the parlour area. With new technology in parlours today, it is very easy for them to freeze over and be unable to process milking. Dr.Dan @
  • The cold spell has an impact on cattle supplies to factories

    On farm visits this week we have noted from several hauliers in farming that they have been unable to travel to farms to collect cattle for delivery to factories. This has resulted in a tightening of supply as the continued cold spell pertains and it will result in an increase in prices in the short-term. Dr.Dan @
  • Farm Safety

    On a farm visit outside Mallow in County Cork today a health and safety official was visiting the farm when I arrived. The farmer was very irate when the official had left the farm. I got full vent of his frustration and annoyance with the recommendations the Safety Official had recommended. As I listened to the farmer, I realised how important Safety Officials are in conjunction with farm safety. Many of the recommendations made sense to me. However, some of the recommendations made would not pertain to the farmer himself but to a visitor to the farm. Farmers may be well able to deal with the hazardous environment in which they work. The number of farm accidents in Ireland is very high by European standards and does require implementations of Health and Safety standards for the working environment. Dr.Dan @
  • Treatment is an issue with suckler cows

    .Visited a farm in County Kerry today with a herd of suckler cows. The owner put it ‘’ stark raving mad and only see myself the odd day’’. We had fortunately four people assisting with the scanning of this group of 40 suckler cows. The job indeed was dangerous. Animals jumped gates and other cows in the crush during the whole scanning procedure. A job which should have taken less than an hour took nearly 2 hours. The only saving grace afterwards was that dinner was on the table! This is an issue with poor temperament in cattle. This should be addressed by the beef cattle industry. Otherwise owners will find it hard for people to come in and carry out any procedure with their stock because of the possible dangers involved. Dr.Dan @
  • Excellent hospitality

    Visiting farms around Moyvane, Co Kerry with dairy and suckler herds. Hospitality in this part of Kerry is excellent- in fact too good!. It is very hard to get a call completed without a full breakfast, dinner and tea available to you depending on the time of the day you call. It is very difficult to decline same. Sadly this is disappearing from rural Ireland and the larger farms become less hospitable to visitors on the farm. Moyvane, Co Kerry is made up off many small farms which are dependant mainly on dairy with the local creamery taking in milk and supplying all their local needs for the farm. Sadly, this too will disappear as farm sizes increase and the pool of milk produced in the county moves to more lush pastures. Moyvane is made up of very marginal soil types surrounded by bog on many sides of the parish. Long live hospitality in Moyvane. Dr Dan
  • Ultrasonography to be used before conducting super ovulation programmes.

    Visited a client this evening in North Cork. He was preparing a Holstein heifer for a superovulation programme and embryo transfer. He had noted that the heifer had shown regular heats over the previous 3 months. Examination of the animal today revealed that she was poly-cystic. Use of a reference heat in this animal and administration of the super-ovulatory hormonal treatment would induce severe in-fertility in this animal. Fortunately.he had an assessment made of the animals reproductive status prior to the start of the program. Ultrasonography is an excellent tool in this respect and should be used in conjunction with all superovulation and embryo transfer programmes. This client also assessed the maiden heifers which he had planned using as recipients. 2 of the 10 heifers elected were totally unsuitable as recipients. Dr.Dan @
  • Parasite infection leads to poor BCS

    Visited a farm in West Cork with a dairy herd .Presented animals with very poor BCS. I noticed that the cows were scouring . The client presented me with 2 large tape worms which he had found that morning in the cubicles. There is a severe case in this herd with a parasite infection. I advised the client to consult with his vet and to get a programme of action put in place to control this infection. Dr.Dan @
  • The kindness of people in these severe weather.

    In West Cork this morning, do not know how I got down here to do calls around Timoleague. Lorries jack-knifed on the Bandon-Timoleague Road. I had to be pulled away by a tractor to the first and second call. This weather brings out the best in people when someone is in a crisis. Dr.Dan @
  • Selenium deficiency results in high mortality rates in calves born.

    Visited a farm in County Derry where selenium deficiency resulted in 30% of the calves born either dead or death within minutes after birth. Subsequent analysis showed that selenium deficiency was the main cause. The client discovered that new EU regulations have restricted the amount of Vitamin E, Iodine and selenium supplementations in diets for cows. Subsequently, the client treated all animals to increase selenium and vitamin E supplementation. The incidence of mortality among calves born dropped dramatically. This issue needs to addressed by the Industry as a costly feature for high mortality rates in calves. Dr.Dan @
  • Heifers calving down at 3 years of age.

    Visited a client in West Limerick  to-day presenting  heifers in calf to calve down at 3 years of age.  The heifers were well grown and by the time they will have calved, they will be  very large mature animals.  It is hard to appreciate the fact that calving animals down at 3 years of age versus  2 years of age will result in a loss  of milk production potential by 300 kilograms per lactation based on the fact that calving down a 3 year old results in extra deposition of body fat and reduces the milk production potential.

    Dr.Dan @

  • Synchronisation programmes

    Scanned a group of maiden heifers in County Meath as part of a synchronisation programme.  Of the 40 heifers presented 20 were for fit for breeding and of the remaining 20, 10 were pregnant over 100 days and 10 were in a pre-pubertal state.  This is an example where a synchronisation programme without  a pre-breed scan would have been disastrous. 

    Dr.Dan @




  • BCS on cows presented excellent

    Visited a farm in County Derry with heifers and cows placed on a pre-calving ration for 3 weeks prior to due calving dates based on previous scan dates and accurately predicted calving dates.  BCS on cows presented was excellent.  However, 80% of the animals had corpus liteum present in the ovaries . They had presented  those cows which had ovulated with uterine infections associated with early post-partum ovulation.  This is a recurring feature in herds where BCS is excellent post-calving.  Dr Dan @


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