Know How / Husbandry

Animal husbandry covers a broad range of topics around livestock management throughout its lifetime. Including video guides on best practice, these articles look at the elements key to optimising stockmanship at the various stages of livestock production.

Case studies

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DAIRY

How an Irish farmer keeps his spring-calving system on track

An Irish Olympic race walker has used sports psychology to help him expand a simple spring-block system and keep it running profitably. We finds out more about spring block-calver Jamie…

SHEEP

How cobalt deficiency tests led to higher lamb weights

A split trial on a Dorset farm highlighted a 3.52kg uplift in weight gain and reduced susceptibility to worms in lambs supplemented for cobalt deficiency. The result of the trial,…

CALVING

Why portable milkers can ease stress at calving

Using a portable milking machine in the calving pen is the easiest and fastest way to harvest a cow’s first colostrum and avoid having to move a newly calved cow.…

CALVING

How two herds have reduced incidence of stillbirth

Selective breeding, addressing mineral status and transition management are just some of the ways beef and dairy farmers can minimise costly stillbirths. Perinatal mortality (stillbirth) is defined as the death…

LAMBING

How colostrum and new shed helped cut lamb mortality

Meticulous colostrum feeding and a new lambing shed have helped cut mortality and eradicate cases of watery mouth in an organic March-lambing flock. Mortality has fallen from 26% to 17%…

WHATS IN YOUR LIVESTOCK SHED

What’s in Your Livestock Shed? visits a high-tech pig unit

A state-of-the-art indoor pig farrowing and dry sow unit, projected to produce more than 10,000 piglets a year, is showcasing some of the highest levels of indoor pig welfare and…

Practical advice

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DAIRY

Advice for managing a split-block calving herd

Historically, savings made from efficient block-calving outweighed seasonality penalties. Yet many contracts have tempted farms into going split block.  Herds that move to split-block calving to satisfy milk buyer requirements…

CALVING

Why portable milkers can ease stress at calving

Using a portable milking machine in the calving pen is the easiest and fastest way to harvest a cow’s first colostrum and avoid having to move a newly calved cow.…

HEALTH AND WELFARE

5 ways to ensure a safe and successful beef calving

Understanding basic principles of animal behaviour and physiology can help farmers develop a functional and safe calving system. Rarely a year goes by without Health and Safety Executive records showing…

LAMBING

Advice on planning for triplet lambs and options for rearing

Sheep farmers considering increasing the prolificacy of their flocks have the potential to increase sales by €15 (£12.80) a ewe for every 0.1 additional lamb reared successfully, according to Teagasc…

LAMBING

Lambing shed communication - why and how to improve it

Keeping lines of communication open to track vital lambing shed jobs can help higher-output flocks keep standards high. Sheep vet Emily Gascoigne of Synergy Farm Health believes verbal and non-verbal…

FOOT HEALTH

Why it is important to optimise dairy cow lying times

Dairy cows’ lying behaviour is considered a sign of their wellbeing and comfort, with 12 hours a day often used as the benchmark. Yet lying times vary between individual cows…

Insights

LIVESTOCK

Why simple, relevant data is focus of cow behaviour research

Business lore says that what gets measured can be managed or improved. Yet dairy farmers are at risk of being overloaded with information now that cow tracking technology can record…

HEALTH AND WELFARE

How scanning can detect early pneumonia in calves

Subclinical pneumonia, where there are no obvious signs of the disease, in young calves is going undetected on farms, a Scottish study has found. Calves are more likely to succumb…

HEALTH AND WELFARE

Study shows financial impact of crypto in beef herd

Cryptosporidiosis in young calves causes significant long-term weight loss and incurs huge economic costs, according to a study carried out in Scotland. The study, at Moredun Research Institute and The…

FEED AND NUTRITION

Study shows how calcium can affect dry cow fertility

Increasing calcium in pre-calving diets can improve postpartum uterine health and fertility, a recent study has revealed. The study, which took place at the University of Illinois, examined feeding dry…

FEED AND NUTRITION

Trial shows high iodine cow diet can hinder colostrum uptake

A survey of iodine supplementation in beef herds has revealed that over supplementation pre-calving can negatively affect calves’ ability to absorb colostrum. A collaborative research project between Moredun Research Institute,…

LIVESTOCK

4 sheep recording methods compared: which one is best?

Carmarthenshire sheep farmer and Aberystwyth University graduate Huw Williams completed a HCC scholarship in 2015 looking at how extensive systems in New Zealand and Australia were recording parentage. Talking about…

SHEEP

Research shows value of monitoring ewe body condition

New research has shown just how valuable it is to record and monitor body condition in commercial ewe flocks and keep it consistent year-round.   Independent sheep consultant Lesley Stubbings…

LAMBING

How sheep colostrum trials are helping to reduce antibiotics

Trials are comparing two lamb blood tests in a bid to reduce antibiotics use on farms through optimising ewe nutrition and health.  A series of farm studies has compared refractometer tests…

LAMBING

Sheep industry and farmers rally to tackle black loss

Concern is mounting in the Scottish sheep sector around a phenomenon severely limiting the economic performance and genetic progress of many upland flocks.  The perennial and unaccountable disappearance of lambs…

LIVESTOCK

Weaning lambs early could offer big benefits, trial shows

Early weaned lambs can grow as fast – if not – faster than their unweaned equivalents when fed legume-based forages. Research by New Zealand’s Massey University has found with the right…

Pros and cons of leaving male lambs entire

Are there any advantages of leaving male lambs entire? The answer is certainly, yes, but producers who consider reaping the benefits must also be aware of the management challenges it…