David Maughan farms with
his brother, Peter, on two
farms totalling 272ha (425
acres) in Co.Durham on the
Raby Estate. The 40ha (100
acres) grass supports an
18-month and a silage beef
system. Cattle for the 18-
month system are reared
from purchased Continental
bull calves, with Continental
bull and heifer calves for the
silage beef system
FILL-DYKE February is not very appropriately named, with no rain so far and spring-like temperatures – most unseasonable.
While the going is good we have been able to catch up with our mucking out and spreading activities. Now that spring has woken up we shall start spreading fertiliser this week, firstly on the OSR and then apply 375kg/ha of a 15:15:20 blend to the silage leys.
I mentioned last month that we had experienced adverse side effects with the second dose of an RSV vaccine earlier in the winter. This did not turn out to be unique, for it seems others have on occasions also had similar experiences, indeed sometimes very much worse. Ours was a dead vaccine which seems to be safer than a live one.
The manufacturer blood tested the affected calves and concluded that the vaccination was not directly responsible for what had seemed a pneumonia outbreak. With the following batch being due its second dose we undertook a small on-farm trial to attempt to repeat the experience, dosing half the batch and measuring the temperature rise 36 hours later. The treated group measured 1.18F higher than the control group, with no real signs of ill health, so we have not been able to repeat the experience. We now suspect we had on the previous occasion vaccinated the calves at the start of a challenge by a different organism, then in its sub-clinical stage. The stress of the RSV vaccine had then been sufficient to trigger the reaction.
I had, along with a number of other beef producers, the pleasure recently of visiting a latter-day "cathedral of commerce". We arrived at the Leeds headquarters of one of the largest supermarket chains, shortly after the close of the working day. The fact that they wanted what we produced was not something that most of us had experienced in recent times.
The object of the evening was to encourage producers to become more closely involved with them by joining a select beef producer group. Their credibility at being the only supermarket to have stuck with British beef throughout the crisis makes them a more trusted partner than others. *
Vaccination for RSV caused the Maughans more difficulties than expected.