Salmonella vaccination a vital investment for Co. Waterford farmer

Salmonella is a significant disease on Irish dairy farms and can greatly impact on herd productivity and profitability. The implications include high abortion rates, high calf mortality, reduced growth rates and depressed fertility in animals that do overcome the infection. It is also a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transferred easily from animals to humans.

Tom Power, Dairy Farmer, Waterford

One farmer who doesn’t take any risks when it comes to Salmonella is Waterford farmer, Tom Power. Farming in Drumhills, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Tom is milking a herd of 300 cows in a spring-calving system.

In the video below, Tom outlines the importance of Salmonella control on his farm and why vaccinating with Bovilis® Bovivac® S has become a critical component of his herd management programme.

“The herd is at a size now, where we can’t take any chances with their health and that’s why we vaccinate against Salmonella. Like most farmers do, we put a huge amount of time and effort into getting the cows into calf, so keeping them in calf is our number one priority,” says Tom.   

No farm is risk free

According to Tom’s local Veterinary Practitioner, Declan Gilchrist from Deise Vets in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, “no farm is risk free. Just because you haven’t had Salmonella on your farm before, doesn’t mean you are protected from it.”

Vaccination against Salmonella

Currently in Ireland, Bovilis® Bovivac® S is the only vaccine available for the control of salmonellosis in cattle. Healthy calves from approximately three weeks of age can receive the primary vaccination course of two 2ml injections separated by an interval of 14 to 21 days.

Calves over six months of age and adult cattle should receive two 5ml injections 21 days apart. All cattle vaccinated with the primary vaccination course of Bovilis® Bovivac® S should receive a 5ml injection at least two weeks prior to each period of risk or at intervals of no more than 12 months thereafter.

Tom concludes: “We try to give each animal a chance and by vaccinating against Salmonella every year, we are reducing the risk of illness and ensuring the cow’s health and performance is not impacted. As it is a zoonotic disease, vaccination also possibly lowers the risk to anyone working here on the farm.”

Reasons to control Salmonella 

There are two strains of Salmonella to be aware of for your herd. Salmonella dublin (S dublin) is the most common type associated with abortion in cattle in Ireland and has a high carrier status. Salmonella typhimurium is more commonly associated with diarrhoea outbreaks but can be a cause of abortions.

As well as causing abortions, clinical signs can vary from very mild diarrhoea to those which show obvious signs of fever, dehydration, and profuse diarrhoea, followed by death in a few days.

Clinical outbreaks in young calves can often resemble pneumonia. Acute infections can become chronic and may result in poor thrive, chronic diarrhoea, and terminal dry gangrene.

Salmonella is a significant disease on Irish dairy farms. It can survive for up to two years in the right conditions and the disease is shed mostly in faeces.

In many cases, cows that are infected with Salmonella will often appear clinically normal and Salmonella can survive for up to two years in the right conditions and the disease is shed mostly in faeces. In many cases, cows that are infected with

Salmonella will often appear clinically normal and healthy. It is common when these animals become stressed that they begin shedding the bacteria, infecting other cows, or getting sick themselves. 

Hygiene and biosecurity to control Salmonella

Vaccination is critical; however, to maximise animal immunity and minimise exposure, it must coincide with the strict management measures outlined below.

  • Maintain a closed herd.
  • If buying in, quarantine arrivals for a period of four weeks minimum.
  • Strict biosecurity should be particularly maintained around cases.
  • Faecal material from clinical cases must not enter the slurry tank.
  • A disinfection point should be in place for everyone who enters and leaves the farm to use.
  • A rodent and bird control plan should be in place, especially regarding access to feed stores.
  • Hygiene of buildings between batches of animals is also critical.

For more information about controlling Bovine Salmonellosis in your herd talk to your vet or visit Salmonella – Bovilis – MSD Animal Health


WATCH: Pre-weaning tips, vaccination protocols and BEEP-S overview

Watch: See the videos highlighting some pre-weaning tips, suitable vaccination protocols and an overview on the BEEP-S scheme.

The objective of the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme for Sucklers (BEEP-S) is to further increase economic and environmental efficiency in the suckler herd though improvement in the quantity and quality of performance data that is collected.

One of the voluntary measures under Action 2 of the BEEP-S is vaccination. The objective of this action is for farmers to implement a vaccination programme to reduce the incidence of bovine respiratory disease caused by certain viruses and bacteria otherwise known as pathogens. Bovine Respiratory Disease or BRD as it is also known, refers to diseases that affect the respiratory system of cattle. The best-known example of BRD in cattle is pneumonia.

It is advised that all applicants should consult with their attending veterinary practitioner for the most suitable vaccination programme for their farm. To qualify for payment, date of vaccine administration and purchase receipts must be kept on file and made available to Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) upon inspection.

Why is vaccination part of this programme?

A correctly timed vaccination programme in conjunction with correct animal management can have both an economic and labour-saving result for the farmer.

Vaccination programmes can:

  • Improve the welfare of the animals. Vaccines can reduce the risk of an animal becoming infected by certain disease pathogens
  • Reduce the risk of animals becoming ill which reduces the need for antibiotic treatment
  • Protect animals during risk periods. Examples are weaning, housing, mixing of groups, transport, mart trade etc.
  • Reduce sick days for animals while also maintaining thrive, allowing animals to reach key target weights

Studies show beef cattle with obvious signs of pneumonia can take over 59 days longer to finish than healthy animals. Even animals showing little or no sickness can be suffering from subclinical respiratory disease which will increase finishing times to slaughter. See figure 1 below:

Figure 1. Negative effects of BRD on finishing times1

Purpose of Action 2 – vaccination

If you selected vaccination as part of Action 2 of the programme you will need to familiarise yourself with the disease pathogens you are trying to protect your cattle against, the vaccines suitable for the programme and their protocols. Let’s start with the disease pathogens. The vaccination pillar of the programme aims at reducing the disease incidence caused by BRD which is illustrated in figure 2:

Pathogen namePathogen typeKnown as
Respiratory Syncytial VirusVirusRSV
Parainfluenza-3VirusPI3
Bovine herpes virus type 1 (BoHV-1), (Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis)VirusIBR
Mannhaemia haemolyticaBacteriaMannhaemia (Pasteurella) haemolytica
Figure 2. List of disease pathogens the programme aims to protect calves against through vaccination

For the purpose of this programme, Teagasc are advocating the importance of vaccinating calves against all four pathogens listed in figure 2 where possible. If inspected, you must provide receipts to show proof of purchase and a record of vaccine administration dates in order to satisfy Action 2 of the programme.

Applicants must choose one of the following vaccination protocols to qualify for payment:

Option 1. (if there is adequate time before risk period or a broader coverage including bacteria is required)

  • First subcutaneous injection of RSV, PI3 and Mannhaemia haemolytica dead vaccine, six to eight weeks before weaning/housing/sale
  • Second subcutaneous injection of RSV, PI3 and Mannhaemia haemolytica dead vaccine, two to four weeks before weaning/housing/sale
  • At the same time as the second injection, a single IBR live intra-muscular, two to four weeks before weaning/housing/sale

Option 2. (if there is a short time before risk period or if cattle can only be handled once)

  • Single RSV and Pi3 Intranasal two to four weeks before weaning/housing/sale
  • At the same time, a single (or two dose programme) IBR live intra-muscular injection (two to four weeks before weaning/housing/sale)

MSD Animal Health has the full portfolio of BRD vaccines to provide protection against the four pathogens listed in figure 2. Figure 3 below displays the disease pathogen each product provides protection against and the specific vaccination protocol.

Figure 3. MSD Animal Health BRD vaccine portfolio suitable for the BEEP-S scheme

MSD Animal Health are advising all farmers to implement a vaccination protocol using Bovipast RSP and Bovilis IBR Marker Live. Benefits of this programme:

  • Combination of these vaccines will provide protection against all four pathogens
  • The two vaccines are licenced to be administered on the same day
  • Bovipast RSP provides the BROADEST cover against Mannhaemia haemolytica that’s available on the market
  • Bovilis IBR Marker Live provides the FASTEST onset of immunity compared to competitor product

Bovipast RSP

Bovilis Bovipast RSP
Bovilis Bovipast RSP
  • Provides protection against RSV, PI3 and the BROADEST protection against Mannhaemia ((Pasteurella) haemolytica
  • Inactivated or dead vaccine
  • Two shot primary course given four weeks apart. One shot is 5ml
  • The second shot must be given no later that two weeks prior to weaning, sale or housing
    • 1st shot six weeks prior to risk 
    • 2nd shot two weeks prior to risk
  • Subcutaneous injection (under the skin)
Bovilis IBR Marker Live
Bovilis IBR Marker Live

Bovilis IBR Marker Live

  • Provides the FASTEST onset of immunity against IBR
  • Live vaccine
  • Single 2ml shot given at least two weeks prior to weaning, sale or housing
  • Intranasal (up the nose) or intramuscular (into the muscle) injection
  • Both intranasal and intramuscular administration will give 6 months protection when given to stock over 3 months old.
Bovilis INtranasal RSP Live
Bovilis INtranasal RSP Live

Bovilis INtranasal RSP Live

  • Provides the FASTEST onset of immunity against RSV and Pi3
  • Live vaccine
  • Single 2ml shot given at least one week prior to weaning, sale or housing
  • Intranasal administration
  • Provides 12 weeks protection against RSV & PI3

MSD Animal Health are advising all farmers to consult with their attending veterinary practitioner prior to implementing a vaccination protocol.

If inspected, you must provide receipts to show proof of purchase and a record of vaccine administration dates in order to satisfy Action 2 of the programme.

References
Bareille et al. 2008. Impact technique et économique des troubles respiratoires des jeunes bovins lors de l’engraissement. Rencontres autour des recherches sur les ruminants: 77-80.

WATCH – “We lost 10 calves one year. We have lost none since”

Kieran Flatley of Harrington Farms in Kilkelly, County Mayo talks about the improvement in their weanling calves over the last few years as a result of implementing a vaccination programme to protect them against pneumonia.

Earlier this year, Kieran applied for the BEEP-S programme. As part of the programme, farmers had to apply before 25th April 2022. When applying, they had to indicate what actions they would undertake. See figure 1 below which outlines the actions points of the programme.

Figure 1: The Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme – Sucklers for 2020. The scheme is the same for 2021.

For more information on the BEEP – S, click here


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.