News & Events - Bovilis - MSD Animal Health

Gold standard animal healthcare at the centre of Wagyu beef enterprise

Revolutionary processes and a tried and tested animal health programme at Moss Hill Farm in Co. Antrim is paving the way to bring some of the world’s most coveted Wagyu beef to market.

Gary Fitzpatrick has been utilising the Bovilis vaccines along with Consultant and Supply Chain Specialist Dr Ryan Law to roll out a tailor-made vaccination and nutrition regime, which is not only producing the finest quality Wagyu beef, but in half the time.

Wagyu beef is one of the most prized meats in the world and that’s down to the marbling. It’s unparalleled in flavour but also boasts a range of health benefits for the consumer due to its high levels of Omega 3 and 6.

It usually takes up to 36 months to rear and finish Wagyu cattle, but Moss Hill is doing it in 15 months, not only improving economic efficiency but making a positive impact on the carbon footprint of this beef production system.

Gary Fitzpatrick says with 450 animals now in the supply chain, animal health is a centre focus for the WagyuGold enterprise: “We believe prevention is better than cure and that is clearly delivering results. Our robust vaccination programme starts for the calves entering the rearing unit at 3 weeks old.

“Here they are protected from a range of respiratory diseases using Bovilis® IBR Marker Live and Bovilis® Bovipast® RSP. We’ve used these products to protect our cattle here on the farm for many years, so we know the animals perform well using this programme. The calves get a shot of Bovilis® IBR Marker Live and Bovipast® RSP on the same day and a booster shot of Bovipast® RSP 4 weeks later.” This combination offers a very broad range of protection against some of the most common pneumonia causing agents.

“With Wagyu beef, the key to quality meat is a lack of stress in the animal, so maintaining good health is paramount. Vaccination reduces the risk of sickness which, in turn, improves our productivity.

“We’ve created a comfortable, pathogen-controlled environment using pressure ventilated housing. This combined with the tailored nutrition programme has resulted in calm and content cattle with no pressure at the feed trough, which is what I like to see.”

Elite Pedigree Genetics sourced semen from the top herds globally, focusing on marbling score and fineness. The first calves arrived at the farm, based near Craigavon, in March 2021 at an average weight of 40kgs.

Calves were immediately placed on Anupro’s nutritional regime which optimises performance on a low milk, early weaning system and were weaned after 30 days on farm, with minimal health issues.

Growth rates were exceptional considering calves were from of cross-bred cows, reaching target weights ahead of expectation. The rearing programme enhances immune function and creates a positive energy balance where metabolic programming starts from a very early age.

Gary Fitzpatrick added: “In the current climate, this feeding programme is low cost and suitable for all calf rearing systems, resulting in high performance and low antibiotic usage.”

The calves also get a two-shot primary course given 4 weeks apart of Bravoxin-10 which provide protection against clostridial disease. During the finishing period cattle have access to grass and specialised feed which is continuously monitored to ensure the animals are receiving the correct nutritional requirements.

A growing consumer appetite for traceable, locally bred produce gave Gary and Ryan an opportunity to explore creating an independent supply chain. Now they’ve not only created a high-end beef product but can ensure consistency, ultimately delivering the best consumer experience possible.

Even though the business is relatively new, Dr Ryan Law says they’re keen to grow: “We are currently collecting calves from around 30 dairy farms across Ireland. Wagyu’s have a short gestation period and are very easy calved which is an ideal combination for a dairy farmer. We would support any participating farmer with the blueprint we’ve put in place here at Moss Hill which will help ultimately deliver a luxury eating experience for the consumer.”

This robust animal healthcare programme offering an efficient and economically beneficial prospect to farmers across Ireland. The business is hoping to start selling the product within a few months and is in conversation with both independent meat sellers and a large luxury national retailer.

For more information on any of the vaccines or diseases mention in the above, talk to your vet.


Prevent coccidiosis in calves and lambs using Vecoxan

Vecoxan® is used for the prevention of coccidiosis in calves and lambs. For more information on Vecoxan, including how and why to use it, watch the video below.

To prevent disease and reduce the impact of sub-clinical disease, treatment using Vecoxan® should be administered close to the time when exposure to coccidiosis is known to occur.

Exposure is required for protective immunity to develop. Therefore, treatments should be administered 8-15 days after moving to a high-risk environment or if historical data is available, approximately one week before the expected outbreak.

How to use Vecoxan – ‘No one size fits all’

There is ‘no one size fits’ all for treating coccidiosis on farms. It is important to speak to your vet about the best approach for your farm.

Historical treatment

Treat whole group 1 week before expected clinical signs: Requires excellent records, knowledge of previous coccidiosis outbreaks & management history in herd/flock.

Unknown

Treat 2 weeks after exposure or treat at time of stress factor (e.g. dehorning, castration, transport, weaning, regrouping etc.)

Clinical Outbreak

Reactive treatment: Treat all calves in a group when diarrhoea is first seen in 1 or 2 calves/lambs

It is important to always treat all the calves in the group, as coccidiosis is a group problem, not an individual problem.

A single administration to susceptible animals during risk periods is appropriate although a re-treatment may be necessary if the period of risk is prolonged.

Why use Vecoxan?

  1. Flexible product
  2. Licensed to prevent coccidiosis in both lambs and calves
  3. Allows natural immunity to develop (1)
  4. Higher daily live weight gain following use of diclazuril (2)
  5. Environmentally friendly (3)

Check our new Vecoxan brochure

References

  1. Philippe, P., Alzieu, J.P., Taylor, M.A. and Dorchies, P., 2014. Comparative efficacy of diclazuril (Vecoxan®) and toltrazuril (Baycox bovis®) against natural infections of Eimeria bovis and Eimeria zuernii in French calves. Veterinary parasitology206(3-4), pp.129-137.
  2. Agneessens J, Goossens L, Louineau J, Daugschies A and Veys P (2006). Build up of immunity after a diclazuril (Vecoxan) treatment in calves, Poster at World Buiatrics Congress, Nice.
  3. Van Leemput L. & Louineau., (2007). Diclazuril for coccidiosis in ruminants: safe for the environment? Janseen Animal Health, Beerese, Belgium.

WATCH: Get your Cattle Ready for Summer Grazing


As the Summer months approach, its time to consider protecting your cattle ahead of the grazing period. With that, we have administration videos for some of our products typically used while cattle are at grass. For more information on any of these products, talk to your vet.

Repidose Bolus

The ideal approach to controlling lungworms, gut worms and stomach worms is to use a wormer that allows some exposure to the worm larvae but kills adult worms before they cause clinical signs of disease.

Repidose bolus provides season long protection. The product’s pulse release mechanism strategically releases a dose of oxfendazole into the animal’s system every 21 days. The pulse release system prevents clinical signs of disease by killing worms every 21 days while at the same time enabling the animal to generate immunity to gut worms and lungworm. With 21 weeks cover the bolus is ideally suited to grass-based systems especially replacement heifers.

Repidose is the only bolus on the market for the prevention and treatment of lungworm, stomach worms and gut worms. The bolus is divided into seven individual compartments or chambers. Every three weeks, a therapeutic dose of the anthelmintic oxfendazole is released into the animal’s gut. This kills worms at all stages of development.

How to use Repidose Bolus

  • Target weight at time of administration: 100kg – 400 kg
  • Active ingredient: Oxfendazole
  • 1 bolus per animal
  • Withdrawal periods: Meat & Milk – 7 months. Do not administer to cattle producing milk for human consumption
Full video on the use of Repidose pulse release bolus

Butox Pour On

Mild weather combined with rainfall provides the perfect environment for nuisance flies to multiply. Flies can cause a state of unease in the parlour leading to occasions of flying clusters. Flies can interfere with the grazing routine of cattle and this may cause a reduction in milk and butterfat production. Their impact does not end there, they are all capable of transmitting viruses, bacteria and certain parasites.

Butox PO administration video

How to use Butox Pour-On

  • Indicated for the control of flies and lice in cattle.
  • Active ingredient: Deltramethrin
  • Withdrawal periods: Meat – 18 days. Milk – 12 hours. In dairy herds, we advise to administer after evening milking.
  • Pour the dose along the animal’s spine from the base of the head to the tail.
  • The person applying should wear gloves.
  • For fly control, a single application provides protection for 6 to 10 weeks (depending on the infestation, fly species and weather). If flies remain an issue thereafter, it is advised to repeat the application.
Butox PO dose rates for cattle
For more information on any of the above products, contact your vet

Calf Pneumonia – Why prevention is better than cure for Bandon dairy farmer

“Vaccinating against pneumonia is cheap reassurance and ensures long-term protection for a cow” says Bandon dairy farmer, Owen O’Brien  

Owen runs a 74 cow-dairy herd alongside his wife, Rosaleen, his three children, Daniel, Amy and Ciaran, and parents who remain very active on the family farm.  

Like so many farms across the country, the O’Brien’s have made significant strides over the last number of years to overcome calf pneumonia outbreaks on farm. Calf pneumonia is the most common cause of death in cattle of all ages over one month old. For calves that do survive death, an outbreak of calf pneumonia can lead to significant costs in terms of reduced growth rates, lower milk yields, increased feed requirements and veterinary attention.

Owen O’Brien explains his experience with calf pneumonia on farm while local vet Kevin O’Sullivan gives some tips to stay ahead of calf pneumonia as we near the latter part of the calving season

The cost of pneumonia

Pneumonia is a multifactorial disease meaning any factors can influence the onset of an outbreak. Two important viral causes of pneumonia are RSV and PI3 viruses while one of the most common bacterial infections can be caused by Mannheimia haemolytica. The severity of pneumonia can vary from reduced appetites, mild nasal discharge and coughing in a group of calves, to severe pneumonia causing death.

According to Department of Agriculture Quarterly Surveillance Report 2020, in the first three months of 2020, Mannheimia haemolytica was the most common pathogen identified on post-mortems of cattle examined by the regional veterinary labs.   

“Pneumonia will kill or, at the very least, significantly compromise lung function and impact on heifer growth rates,” says Kevin O’ Sullivan from Glasslyn Vets. Preventing the problem from arising in the first place is key and management is reliant on a good understanding of the causes and risk factors.

What makes calves susceptible to the disease?

Calf pneumonia is a complicated, multi-factorial disease. Healthy animals can carry Mannheimia haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida as commensals without developing clinical signs. Infectious agents, environment, and the calf’s immunity status are all factors that can determine the onset of an infection.

A calf receiving poor-quality or inadequate levels of colostrum is one of the biggest factors affecting immunity, making them more susceptible to infection. Several stress factors such as poorly ventilated and overcrowded housing, grouping, changes in weather and transportation can also increase the risk of pneumonia. Once the calf is stressed, the ability of their immune system to fight infection is significantly reduced.

Prevention is better than cure 

Disease prevention is key to avoiding the onset of pneumonia on farm. “My motto is prevention is better than cure on farm. Good quality colostrum, good hygiene practices, good housing management and an effective vaccination programme must go hand in hand to reduce the risk of pneumonia. The results are clear as I find my cows are heathier, fitter animals and don’t get any setbacks”, says Owen.

Alongside building immunity, reducing stress and minimising exposure to infection, Kevin states that one of the best routes for preventing a costly pneumonia outbreak is vaccination along with good calf management. It stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies, which protects the animal against infectious pressures once they are challenged by those pathogens.

“By vaccinating against pneumonia, you are reducing the risk of outbreak, helping the animal thrive and reach their weight targets at weaning, housing and pre-breeding. This will ensure they are in optimal condition when meeting the bull in ~20 months’ time” states Kevin.

Why choose Bovipast RSP?

Owen uses Bovipast RSP in his calves from two weeks of age and gives the booster shot four weeks later. Bovipast RSP contains IRP technology which inhibits Mannheimia haemolytica from replicating which reduces the infection from developing. It provides the broadest protection against bacterial pneumonia caused by Mannheimia haemolytica and protects the animal against two of main viruses, RSV and PI3. As pneumonia can result from bacterial or viral infection, it is important to choose a vaccine that provides a broad range of cover against some of the most common infectious pathogens challenging calves.

For full protection, calves should be vaccinated with a 5 ml injection under the skin, from two weeks of age and given their booster dose four weeks later. The correct use and timing of vaccination are vital to their success and always read the manufacturers recommendations.

When vaccinating, it is recommended to vaccinate all animals in the group to minimise the infectious potential. As the disease status on every farm is different, vaccination protocols will vary. Speak to your local vet about the right strategy for your farm.

Compatible with Bovilis IBR Marker Live

Bovipast RSP can also be administered at the same time as Bovilis IBR Marker Live from three weeks of age. Vaccination with Bovilis IBR Marker Live may be required where IBR has been detected on a farm or where the risk of introduction of the disease is high i.e. purchasing stock or animals returning from shows or sales.

For more information, talk to your veterinary practitioner


Leptospirosis Vaccination: Overcoming milk drop in Co. Kilkenny

Leptospirosis is one of the most common causes of abortion in dairy and beef herds in Ireland and according to Richard Ryan from Ormonde Veterinary Hospital, now is the ideal time to take control of the disease through an effective vaccination programme.

“With the breeding season just around the corner, we have to watch out for key diseases that are going to impact herd fertility. Leptospirosis can be detrimental to fertility as it can contribute to decreased conception rates as well as abortions weeks after the initial infection.”

Patrick Darmody explains how he protects his herd against leptospirosis while local vet Richard Ryan gives some pre-breeding advice

One farmer who has seen the benefits of implementing a vaccination programme against Leptospirosis is Kilkenny farmer, Patrick Darmondy. A fourth-generation farmer, Patrick runs a dairy and beef enterprise alongside his mother and wife.

Achieving optimum herd health, fertility and survival are key priorities for Patrick. His herd is made up of 50% Holstein Friesian, British Friesian crosses to promote hybrid vigour and 100% AI is carried out on the farm in order to maintain a closed herd policy. 

Clinical signs of Leptospirosis

The first step in protecting against any animal disease is identifying the cause of the problem. There are two serovars of Leptospirosis commonly found in cattle in Ireland – Leptospira interrogans hardjo and Leptospira borgpetersenii hardjo. Leptospirosis circulates in a herd by direct transmission from infected animals (new infections or carrier animals) or by indirect transmission through urine, birth fluids, milk, contaminated water, or other species.

According to Richard, Leptospirosis can affect cows in a variety of ways. “Similar to what was happening on Patrick’s farm, your herd may experience milk drop syndrome. However, one of the biggest problems we see on farm is decreased conception rates and also abortions, which can typically occur 6-12 weeks after the initial infection.”

Diagnosing Leptospirosis

Diagnosis of the disease is based on blood sampling and looking for high antibody levels in affected animals, however this can prove difficult. Often the infection is present 6-to-12 weeks before clinical signs become apparent (e.g. low pregnancy rates picked up at scanning).

It can also be based on the culturing of urine samples. In addition, leptospiral abortion diagnosis is best based on the identification of bacteria in the foetus.

Failure to control the disease can not only have a detrimental effect on the health and production of the herd, but it can affect people too as it is a zoonotic disease – it can cause disease in humans. Common forms of transmission include contact with urine, afterbirth or the aborted foetus of an infected animal.

Vaccination is the number one control strategy

Vaccination is the most reliable way of protecting your herd from Leptospirosis and according to Richard, “We vaccinate to protect your herd but also to help to protect you.”

It is essential to vaccinate heifers before their first pregnancy. The primary vaccination course consists of 2 injections 4-6 weeks apart, and thereafter, an annual booster before turnout and at least 2 weeks before breeding.  It is a 2 ml dose, given under the skin to all cattle greater than one month of age. The correct use and timing of vaccination are vital to their success and always read the manufacturers recommendations.

Leptavoid-H
Leptavoid-H is the only vaccine that provides protection against two strains of leptospirosis

Why vaccinate with Bovilis Leptavoid-H?

Vaccination is a crucial part in controlling this highly infectious disease, however to provide full protection, it is vital to vaccinate against both strains of bacteria that cause the disease.

Bovilis Leptavoid-H is unique in the fact that it is the only vaccine licensed to protect against both strains of Leptospira hardjo. It is also the only vaccine that is licensed to improve conception rates where Leptospirosis has been diagnosed as a cause of infertility. Another additional benefit of Bovilis Leptavoid-H is that it can be used on the same day as Bovilis BVD (to cattle greater than eight months of age).

According to Patrick, “Since vaccinating with Bovilis Leptavoid-H, there has been no going back. I know the vaccine works; fertility has improved, we have had no milk drops and with Leptospirosis being a zoonotic disease, there is reduced risk to anyone working here on the farm.

“We also find it extremely convenient that we can vaccinate with Bovilis Leptavoid-H at the same time as vaccinating against BVD using Bovilis BVD.”


Pr€vention for Profit competition: Judging

The standard is very high for this year’s Pr€vention for Profit competition with the judges very impressed with each of the four finalists.

This week, the judging for this year’s competition took place with the judges traveling to all four corners of Ireland to meet each of the lucky finalists.

The judges were particularly struck by the the attention to detail by all farmers. Each farmer was committed to rearing all their calves to the highest of standard and demonstrated care and compassion for their animals in doing so.

From birth through to weaning, each farmer was implementing best practice when is came to calf rearing and were excellent examples of how Irish dairy farmers are rearing calves on farms.

The ‘Pr€vention for Profit’ competition this year is focused on the newborn calf. The #MyCalfOurFuture concept is to highlight the importance of the newborn calf, to the future and sustainability of the farm, the farmer and their family and their rural economy.

The finalists were judged on the four key pillars of production. These pillars are nutrition, genetics, management and animal health; together giving an indication of that farms performance and profitability. 

Through this competition we aim to showcase the management of Irish dairy calves by identifying farmers that implement best practice with regard to calf rearing.

The winning farmer will receive an all-expenses paid study tour to mainland Europe where they will get to spend some time on the top performing dairy farms to see and learn how their systems operate.

Keep an eye out in the Irish Farmer’s Journal where we will be featuring each of the four finalists!


Tackling coccidiosis in calves in Co. Tipperary

Coccidiosis is an increasingly prominent disease in young calves and according to Eamon O’Connell from Summerhill Veterinary Clinic in Tipperary, farmers must be extra vigilant, particularly where hygiene is poor.

“When we started our practice 15 years ago, coccidiosis in calves was pretty much unheard of, whereas now, it is one of the main causes of disease that we are seeing on farm. Failure to control the disease can have a huge impact on a dairy farm, leading to massive labour costs and stress, not to mention the reduction in daily live-weight gain and thrive in the calves,” stated Eamon.

One farmer who witnessed the impact of coccidiosis on farm is dairy farmer, Shane Hanrahan, who is milking 110 cows, in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. Hear Shane’s story in the video below.

“Historically, we had issues with coccidiosis when calves were turned out to grass. Following the advice of my vet, Eamon O’Connell, we implemented a rigorous preventative strategy using strict hygiene protocols and the oral solution, Vecoxan. 

“It has worked really well for us. We’ve had no calf scour and calf health has never been better,” said Shane.

Coccidiosis in calves

Coccidiosis is a disease of the intestine and is often seen in calves ranging in age from 3 weeks to 6 months of age. The disease is caused by a tiny parasitic organism that damages the lining of the gut.

Clinical cases include watery diarrhoea, raised tail head and often the calf may be seen straining to pass faeces. More subtle signs of the disease can be decreased appetite and a reduction in daily live-weight gain.

“In Shane’s case, his calves were having issues with coccidiosis 2-3 weeks post turnout to grass. He is also seeing early cases of coccidiosis in younger calves indoors, particularly where calves are moving from individual pens to group pens and similarly, after stressful situations such as dehorning at 3-4 weeks old,” said Eamon. 

Preventative plan for coccidiosis

“We tried other products on the market; however, Vecoxan has worked the best for us. Every calf now gets treated with Vecoxan at 4 weeks old, to prevent coccidiosis indoors, and receive a second dose at 2 weeks post turnout the to tackle the disease at pasture,” said Shane. 

Vecoxan can be used as a preventative. The active ingredient, diclazuril has a short duration of action which allows exposure to the parasite and the development of natural immunity. This reduces the risk of reinfection going forward.

Eamon advised that the whole group are treated the same, as failure to do so could cause reinfection. If one calf is sick with coccidiosis, we must presume that a number of calves are sub clinical cases also. 

He explained, “When the calves leave the individual pens and enter group pens, they should be left for 7-10 days to gain exposure to the parasite. The whole group should then be treated with Vecoxan as a preventative.

Similarly, when calves are let outdoors, they need exposure to the parasite and after 2 weeks post turnout, the whole group should receive their second dose of Vecoxan. On farms where records are available, the whole group can be treated one week before the expected outbreak.” 

Vecoxan can be administered orally at a rate of 1ml per 2.5kg body weight. For example, a 50kg calf will receive 20mls of Vecoxan.  

Hygiene is key to disease control

Eamonn stresses that Vecoxan alone should not be used in place of poor hygiene and a dirty environment.

“Feeding equipment and calf sheds should be cleaned and disinfected regularly and calves should be kept dry with a warm and comfortable straw bed.

“If your calves experienced coccidiosis last year, look at the paddocks that were a source of disease and avoid them if possible.

“Areas around water troughs and feed troughs can be a source of infection also, so make sure they are clean and dry. If the area begins to get mucky or wet, it is important to move the troughs to a new location,” stated Eamon. 

Don’t take chances

Eamon concluded: “For farmers who suspect a case of coccidiosis on farm this spring or who have had a historic problem with the disease, it is critical to act promptly and contact your local vet to formulate a preventative plan.” 

If you suspect your animals to have coccidiosis, contact your vet. They will carry out a full clinical examination and take faecal samples to confirm if it is coccidiosis. Treatment of your calves will be very much dependent on the outcome of the sample results.

Vecoxan – Added Benefits

  • Vecoxan can be administered to animals of any age or any weight. It is safe to use in calves, lambs, cattle and sheep that are indoors or outdoors.
  • Studies have shown that dairy heifers treated with Vecoxan achieved better average daily live-weight gains than those treated with a toltrazuril based product.
  • Vecoxan is environmentally friendly as the manure from treated animals has no environmental concerns and can be safely applied to land.

In Control – Dairy Farmer Shares His Experience Tackling Cryptosporidium

We recently caught up with Westmeath dairy farmer, Michael Clarke to see how he got on tackling cryptosporidium on his dairy farm, which had been a problem up to the spring of 2020.

“2021 was the best year we’ve had in terms of calf health, with little or no sick days. Calf housing is still number one, but accurately following a solid vaccination programme against rotavirus, coronavirus and E. coli has had a huge impact,” said Michael.

The Clarkes converted to dairying in 2010. They bought 200,000L of quota under the new entrant scheme and started off milking 48 heifers. They have since built the herd up to 270 cows.

The Westmeath dairy farmer had a bad run with cryptosporidium some years ago. “It was a nightmare. It involved shocking work over two to three weeks, keeping calves alive through feeding electrolytes and water – not to mention the cost of treatment and the loss of a few calves,” explained Michael. 

It was after this episode and following the advice of his vet, John Moore, that Michael decided to get on top of cryptosporidiosis and make an oral solution to tackle cryptosporidium a critical component of his prevention programme.

Cryptosporidium
Lynn and Michael Clarke.  All calves are being treated with the oral solution for the treatment and prevention of diarrhoea caused by Cryptosporidium parvum 

Cryptosporidium

Cryptosporidium is one of the main causes of scour in calves less than four weeks of age. As part of its life cycle, Cryptosporidium produces huge numbers of oocysts, which are shed in the faeces of infected calves. Older animals can act as a reservoir of infection.

A contaminated environment can serve as a source of oocsyts for new infections to occur. At peak shedding, there may be as many as 10 million oocysts per gram of faeces and it can take as few as 10 of these to cause disease in young, susceptible calves.

Typically, clinical signs appear in calves from 5 to 14 days old and can vary greatly from mild diarrhoea to severe, watery scours and eventually death. Calves become rapidly dehydrated and suffer loss of appetite.

Late intervention was a big issue on Michael’s farm, with oral solutions only administered after the first calves were diagnosed with cryptosporidium.

“We had the first outbreak in 2018. It didn’t hit until around the 7th of March when most of the cows had calved. In 2019, it came much earlier – around the 22nd of February. This was right in the middle of calving. Intervention came too late,” said Michael.

Oral solution

Michael’s Veterinary Practitioner, John Moore said where cryptosporidium is a problem on a farm the use of the oral solution should be a critical component of the prevention programme.

Cryptosporidium
Veterinary practitioner John Moore.

“As the disease hits so fast, it can get out of control before the farmer has time to take action. Mortality can be high and even when calves survive, thrive can be severely affected.

“All calves should be treated daily from 24 to 48 hours old for seven consecutive days. Dosage levels should correspond to the weight of the calf and when used as a treatment make sure the calf is fully hydrated and bright before use,” he stressed.

“Use of the oral solution as a prevention is a more economical option than the massive labour, stress and cost involved in treating sick calves as well as the potential losses from dead calves and poor thrive in those that survive,” John added.

This oral solution, containing the active ingredient Halofuginone lactate, it is only available on veterinary prescription.

Learning from the past

Michael said: “Since 2020, we don’t wait for the disease to hit. Instead, we start the programme at the beginning of the calving season. Calves receive their first dose the day after birth for seven days.”

Vaccinating the cows prior to calving has also become a critical component of Michael’s vaccination programme.  

“We saw fantastic results in controlling cryptosporidiosis, however in that first year, some calves started to show positive signs of rotavirus at around 10 days old.

“I talked to John and we now vaccinate the cows three weeks pre-calving for rotavirus and then protect the calves against cryptosporidium from the start of calving season. I get great peace of mind with this broad range of cover,” said Michael. 

Calves are also given plenty of colostrum within a few hours of birth and close attention is paid to nutrition levels and to bedding, hygiene and ventilation.

“It’s a must to have your sheds properly power washed and disinfected before calving starts. Three to four weeks into calving, the disease pressure is at its highest, so in more recent years, we clean out the calf shed every 10 days. That, along with accurate treatment and good management has been effective at keeping the disease at bay,” concluded Michael.


It’s back – The Pr€vention for Profit competition

Now we’re looking for the best dairy calf rearer in the country! #MyCalfOurFuture

Competition Details

This year, the Pr€vention for Profit competition is focused on calves. The #MyCalfOurFuture concept highlights the importance of the newborn calf to the sustainability of the farm, the farmer, their family and the rural economy.

Prevention for Profit competition

This competition is aimed at dairy farmers who are maximising their on-farm profitability by focusing on the four key pillars of production – Nutrition, Genetics, Management and Animal Health. We aim to showcase the management of Irish dairy calves by identifying farmers who implement best practice when it comes to calf rearing.

Of those that enter the competition, there will be one dairy farmer selected from each of the four provinces as finalists. The four finalists will be assessed based on the four pillars of production. A panel of four judges will conduct a single half day farm visit to assess their calves’ level of productivity and profitability.

The winning farmer will win an all-expenses paid study tour to mainland Europe to visit some top-performing dairy farms, to see and learn how they operate. For your chance to win, click the link below. Good luck!

Please read the terms and conditions of the competition, here.


Tackling calf scour – Time to think vaccination

The newborn calf will face many infectious diseases in the early stages of life, with calf scour being one of the most common challenges.

Creating a calf health plan now, will help reduce the risk of calf scour occurring in the first place. For Cork dairy farmer, James Murphy, this means making sure colostrum is of the highest quality, in addition to ensuring good environmental hygiene and management on farm.

James highlights the key steps he is taking in preparation for calving 2022 and why vaccination plays such an integral role in his calf health plan to reduce the risk of calf scour occurring on his farm.

Good Colostrum Management – Key to preventing calf scour 

Calves are most at risk of calf scour during the first 4 weeks of life; therefore, rely entirely on good high-quality colostrum for protection.

Paul Ryan, Vet Practitioner with Waterside Vets, Co. Limerick, said that “to achieve adequate protection from calf scour, we recommend vaccinating the cow or heifer with the Bovilis Scour Vaccine 12-3 weeks prior to calving.

“This will allow her to increase the concentration of antibodies produced in colostrum antibodies against the main calf scour causing pathogens,” said Paul.

It is critical that the calf receives three litres of good-quality colostrum as soon as possible after birth. The calf should also be fed within the first two hours of birth, to obtain the necessary antibodies which will kick start the calf’s immune system and protect against disease. 

According to James, “vaccinating the cows prior to calving gives us an extra boost of confidence going into the calving period as we know the colostrum contains the critical antibodies to reduce the risk of calf scour.

“We place a big emphasis on getting the colostrum right and into the calf as soon as possible after birth. We operate the 1,2,3 rule of colostrum, and use a Brix Refractometer to ensure calves receive high-quality colostrum with a reading greater than 22%.”  

Calf health programme to reduce calf scour

The direct cost of treating calf scour can be easily determined from treatment costs and losses, but the overall indirect losses, such as reduced growth rates and labour requirements, are often underestimated.

“We vaccinate against calf scour for two main reasons: Animal welfare and labour. We don’t want the animals getting sick, and from an animal performance point of view, it is important that they reach their target growth rates. Sick calves also add to the workload at an already busy time of year,” explained James. 

He continues, “since vaccinating with the Bovilis Scour Vaccine, we have had no sick calves and there is less pressure on the animals as well as the people working on the farm.”

It is important to remember that calf scour vaccination is not a substitute for good hygiene, housing, and environmental factors. Every attempt should be made to keep housing clean and dry, and reduce draughts, where possible.

All feeding equipment should be disinfected after every milk feeding and calf pens should be cleaned out, power washed and disinfected between batches of calves to reduce the build-up of bugs. 

Bovilis Scour Vaccine – At A Glance

calf scour
  • Single shot primary course.
  • Low dose volume (2ml shot).
  • Intramuscular administration.
  • Broad window of vaccination (Vaccinate pregnant cows 12-3 weeks pre-calving).
  • Reduces the severity of diarrhoea caused by E. coli (K99).
  • Reduces the incidence of scours caused by rotavirus.
  • Reduces the shedding of virus by calves infected with rotavirus and coronavirus.
  • Unique 28 day in-use shelf life.
  • Reduce the risk of breakage with new PET bottles.
  • Available in 5, 20 and now 50 dose packs.

For more information, visit the MSD Animal Health scour page or talk to your vet about the Bovilis Scour Vaccine.