26 September 1997

Tighten up hoof dipping in cattle

STRICT hoof dipping regimes should be implemented for cattle to prevent the introduction and spread of digital dermatitis.

Mark Blackwell, vet and marketing manager for disinfectant manufacturer Antec International, says the cause of the disease – which appears as warts or lesions on the heel – is unknown, but bacterial or viral infection are suspected.

To help prevent the increasing risk of digital dermatitis, Mr Blackwell advises foot bathing bought-in replacement heifers after their quarantine period and before they join the herd.

Cattle should be run through two baths in series, the first with plain water to rinse off muck and mud and then into the foot bath containing disinfectant.

@NT:SULPHUR improves yields and copper status of grass, according to trials conducted by the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research.

@NTI:At IGERs North Wyke research station, Devon, sulphur was applied at the recommended rate of 35kg/ha, at half this rate and at twice this rate.

Second cut yields were increased by 15% for the recommended rate and 100% in third cuts. Copper levels were also increased by 26% in second cut silage and 9% in third cuts.

Paul Sweeney of Kemira fertilisers which funded the IGER research says that this contradicts popular belief that sulphur suppresses copper levels. He urges producers to check soil sulphur levels which are falling as a result of reduced sulphur emissions from industry. Many crops, particularly on light soils, receive insufficient sulphur reducing plant growth by up to 20%, he says.

@NT:AI USE on suckler herds could yield higher margins than natural service as costs of running beef stock bull rises, according to Genus.

@NTI:Beef product manager Colin Hunt claims that margins for animals sold as stores could be improved by £80/head by shifting from natural service to AI.

"It is the cost of running a stock bull which has undergone the biggest change with the imposition of the OTMS ceiling slaughter weight causing depreciation rates to rise.

"As a result when the average cost of £3500 for a bull is divided by an average working life of four years, less the cull payment depreciation alone is £800 a year. Adding maintenance costs, vet and medicine charges and interest charges, annual costs rise to £1700 a year," says Mr Hunt.

With a bull to cow ratio of 1:35, costs a calf born rise to £47 compared with a cost of £25 for AI use.

Mr Hunt estimates a further £34/head can be achieved by using semen from top quality bulls which he suggests produce an extra 33kg liveweight at 220 days compared with the MLC average. And a further £16/head could be achieved due to superior conformation.