MSD hold workshop on Tim & Doreen Corridan’s farm

More than 35 vets attended the on-farm workshop hosted on the farms of Maurice Corridan and Tim & Doreen Corridan of Fedamore Co. Limerick.

Jamie Robertson on Doreen Corridan's farm

MSD Animal Health recently organised an on-farm workshop on the topic of ‘Livestock Housing Design and its Relationship with Animal Health’. The event was hosted on the beef farm of Tim and Doreen Corridan and on the adjoining dairy farm of Maurice Corridan in Fedamore, Co. Limerick.


Jamie Robertson (MIAgrE) from Livestock Management Systems Ltd. was the keynote speaker. Jamie discussed the main pitfalls associated with livestock buildings.



During the workshop the group viewed and discussed the merits of different aspects of both beef and dairy cattle housing. Jamie discussed how building design can impact on the incidence of respiratory disease. He said that managing the interaction between the housing, animals and pathogens is key to controlling respiratory disease. He said that the problems in livestock buildings are usually due to a problem in moisture levels, air quality (fresh air), air speed (draught), temperature control (especially for young calves) and ability to clean the building. Imbalances in these factors can significantly affect the incidence and the severity of pneumonia outbreaks.


It is very important to have an outlet in the roof to let warm, moist air escape. Jamie demonstrated how to calculate the outlet area based on the number and age of animals in the shed. Jamie also emphasized that the inlet area, ideally located across both sidewalls should be at least twice and ideally four times the outlet area. Calf housing ventilation

The floor should be sloped to carry  liquid away from the animals and it is very important to ensure that there are no draughts at animal level.


Jamie said that ‘Around half of all naturally ventilated cattle buildings, old and new, are not fit for purpose’. He gave some practical advice on how to make adjustments to buildings to eliminate draughts and improve air movement. He concluded by emphasising the beneficial impact these changes could have on animal health.

Suckler herd devastated by bought in PI heifer

Bought in PI heifer identified as the reason for 29 out of 40 calf deaths on Wexford farm


Farmer Paul Barden, Co. Wexford faced devastation when only 12 calves survived after buying a PI heifer in 2013. Forced to purchase 28 weanlings in Autumn 2014, Paul now urges people to vaccinate for BVD before it’s too late. PI heifer devastates Wexford farm


A bought-in heifer caused BVD devastation for Wexford suckler producer Paul Barden, resulting in the loss of over half of his calves in spring 2014.
Paul, who farms at Donooney, Adamstown, has been in suckling since 2003. He calved 50 cows in 2013. All calves were tissue-tagged and were negative for BVD. Paul was very conscious of disease prevention.
Cows were vaccinated against leptospirosis, salmonella and scour and he also had an IBR vaccination strategy in place. Because he had operated a closed herd, he did not feel the need to vaccinate against BVD. Similar to every good farmer, Paul weighed up the biggest risks to his herd. In summer
2013, he bought in eight heifers. And that is when the BVD horror story began.
“I noticed one of the heifers was not thriving as well as the rest, but I had no reason to suspect there was anything seriously wrong with her,” said Paul. In September, 53 animals were scanned in-calf, including the bought-in heifer. Paul had little reason to be worried. But everything changed when the cows started to calve in 2014. Paul tells the gruesome story:
Nightmare – “It was an absolute nightmare. Forty cows calved – the rest had lost the calves since scanning, including the bought-in heifer which was now empty come calving time. Of the 40 calves born, we finished up with 12 animals that lived. “Some were born dead or died immediately after birth. Over 20 lived, but got pneumonia and scour and anything else you could think of. With a lot of help from my vet Tomás O’Shea of Moyne Veterinary Clinic we tried to keep them alive, but they failed to respond to all treatments. They were in a shocking state.
“In the end, I agreed with Tomás that the only option was to put them down. Out of over 50 cows that went to the bull the previous spring, we finished up with 12 calves. The 29 that died or were put down were all PIs.” When the first signs of the impending disaster began to appear, Tomás blood-tested all breeding stock. The suspect bought-in heifer tested as a PI. She was immediately removed from the farm.
The cows that did not produce a calf were sold. All remaining breeding stock were given a primary and booster vaccination with Bovilis BVD in advance of last year’s breeding season. Annual BVD vaccination is now a rigid part of Paul’s animal health programme.
He was forced to buy in 28 weanlings last autumn “in order to keep up numbers”. The number of cows due to calve this year has dropped to under 40, a mixture of Salers, Limousin and Hereford crosses. His aim is to get back up to 50 cows and sell the progeny as forward stores or beef. It has been a very difficult year for
Paul and a financial nightmare.

Scour vaccination – No calves lost despite doubling herd size

Brian O’Keeffe has not lost a single calf due to scour – even though his herd size has doubled

Cork dairy farmer Brian O’Keeffe sees vaccination as an essential component of good calf-rearing following his bitter experience of the ravages of calf scour. Despite his horrendous experience, he now says that he would not be without vaccination as it has enabled him to double his herd size without losing one single calf.

Scour prevention helped double herd size

Having experienced a serious problem with calf scour a number of years ago, Cork dairy farmer Brian O’Keeffe regards vaccination of cows prior to calving, combined with colostrum feeding and strict hygiene, as essential components of good calf-rearing. Brian, who runs a herd of 80 cows at Johnstown, Glanworth, has bitter experience of the ravages wreaked by scour.

“About 10 years ago, we had a terrible outbreak. We lost around 10 calves due to Rotavirus. It was a nightmare experience. No matter what we did, we couldn’t keep them alive. “Every year since then, we have vaccinated the cows against scour. The herd size has doubled since we started vaccinating and we have not lost one calf due to scour”, said Brian.

He is rigid about getting colos-trum into calves early.  Using a Speedy Feeder, each calf is bottle-fed four litres of colos-trum immediately after birth and another four litres within 24 hours. Although a calf born unseen during the night may have sucked, it still gets the four litres through the Speedy Feeder. He also attaches huge impor-tance to housing and hygiene.  A new calf house was built in 2010. The house is cleaned and disinfected after each bunch of calves.


Brian took over the farm from his parents, John and Rita, in 2009. They were then milking 40 cows. The herd size has since doubled. Yield is now averaging 1,350gals (6,100 litres)/cow. All calves are reared on the farm. Bullocks are sold as stores at around 16 months and all heifers are not needed for replacements are reared to beef at two years. Brian has Fresian, Hereford and Angus stock bulls. Calving is due to start next week and the vast bulk of cows will have calved by St. Patrick’s Day.

Having doubled cow numbers in recent years, does he plan further expansion? “No, I intend to stick with 80 cows. I could go a bit further in cow numbers but, for lifestyle reasons, I will stick the mixture of dairying and beef”, he said.

Farmers guide to Pneumonia

Pneumonia Booklet 150115_Page_1MSD Animal Health has launched a new and innovative guide for beef and dairy farmers on the causes, costs and the prevention of pneumonia in their herd.

It provides a clear understanding of issues such as risk periods, disease outbreaks and production losses. It facilitates the farmer in how to identify signs of pneumonia and what precautions to take. It also identifies the options when pneumonia does strike your herd.

With emphasis on both clinical (visible) and subclinical signs (invisible) disease, costs are analysed for a clearer understanding of the impact of these disease’s on farm profitability. See Pneumonia section for more information.

MSD Attend Royal Ulster Winter Fair 2014

Farmers at the Winter Fair were reminded by MSD animal health that prevention is better than cure when it comes to animal diseases.

A large number of milk and beef producers attended the show, from both the Republic and Northern Ireland. MSD had vets and advisors at its stand advising on herd health protocols for the coming months.

According to MSD, disease areas and products most topical at this time of year were BVD (Bovilis BVD), IBR (Bovilis IBR Marker Live), scour vaccination (Rotavec Corona) and both liver and rumen fluke.

MSD attends Winter Fair
When Ballymoney farmer Richard Pollock, left, fell in with vet Fergal Morris on the MSD Animal Health stand at the Winter Fair in Belfast one practical topic was to the fore. The way herd health can be protected against BVD and IBR with a single injection containing Bovilis BVD and Bovilis IBR Marker Live vaccines in the same syringe thus saving time and reducing stress on stock.

Milk price for 2015 was also very high on the agenda of dairy farmers however with expected reduction in milk price for 2015 dairy farmers were reminded of the cost savings by continuing to vaccinate their herd against the relevant disease.

According to MSD, herd health goes hand in hand with productivity of farm animals. Optimum Productivity goes hand in hand with profitability.

The Royal Ulster Winter Fair is one of the main agricultural events on the Northern calendar. It took place this year, for the second time, at the King’s Hall Pavaillons.