Flies – Nuisance by name, nuisance by nature


With temperatures slowly on the rise, next on the agenda – fly season

Impact on production and spread of disease

Anyone who has worked with cattle during the summer months needs little reminding of the annoyance which flies can cause. They can be responsible for a state of unrest in the parlour for both cows and milker.

The constant source of irritation at grass interferes with normal grazing activity and has been shown to cause a reduction in milk and butterfat production.

They are also capable of transmitting viruses, bacteria and certain parasites. Flies are implicated in the spread of common diseases such as ‘summer mastitis’ and ‘pink eye’.

Why choose Butox Pour-On this summer?

Butox Pour On contains the active ingredient, deltamethrin. Butox provides the longest protection available on the market (10 WEEKS) against flies. Product information:

  • Butox Pour On is indicated for the prevention and treatment of flies and lice in cattle and sheep
  • Contains the active ingredient deltamethrin
  • Provides up to 10 weeks protection against flies*
  • Safe to use during pregnancy and lactation. 18 day meat and 12 hour milk withdrawal periods for cattle. Best to apply this product after evening milking and ensure that the full withdrawal period is respected
  • 30ml dose for cattle over 300kg. The 2.5 liter pack will treat 83 cows
  • Sold in 250ml, 1 and 2.5 liter packs

It is advised to pour the dose along the animal’s spine from the base of the head to the tail. The person applying should wear gloves.

Butox in cattle

IndicationsDose rate
FliesPrevention and treatment of flies on calves and other cattleUp to 100kg: 10ml
100kg – 300kg: 20ml
Over 300kg: 30ml
LicePrevention and treatment of biting and sucking lice on calves and adult cattle10ml per animal irrespective or weight

Types of flies

There are 5 broad categories in Ireland:

  • House or stable flies
  • Face flies
  • Head flies
  • Warble flies
  • Blowflies

Stable flies

Also known as biting house flies, they are mostly found close to buildings inhabited by animals and man. During warm wet weather they may enter sheds and be an annoyance to housed cattle, a particular concern for feedlot cattle. The irritation caused by their bites results in a reduced feed conversion efficiency affecting both meat and milk production.

Face flies

These are the top offenders for annoyance of cattle at pasture. Worst case scenario they can also cause damage to the eye tissue of affected animals. They have been linked to the transmission of Moraxella bovis the bacteria responsible for ‘pink eye’.

Head flies

They are often present in large swarms. Due to the intense irritation and annoyance, their presence can result in self-inflicted wounds (from scratching). They pose a risk for “pink eye” and there is strong evidence to suggest head flies are involved in the transmission of summer mastitis.

Warble flies

This type of fly no longer occurs in Ireland though rare reports exist of cattle ‘gadding’ – showing hysterical behaviour – that have not been confirmed infestations. However, it is important to recognise the condition as the risk of infestation may still exists with importation of animals.

Infestation is associated with the larval stage which over-winters in the animal and then appears as soft, painful lumps on the hide the following May-June. As a result, warble flies may cause issues with subsequent carcase and hide damage. Suspected warble fly infestations should be reported immediately to the Department of Agriculture.

Blow flies

Mostly associated with fly strike in sheep, cattle can succumb to infestation too. Large populations of these adult flies are associated with poor waste management and suboptimal hygiene.

Treatment and control

Indoor environment

Removing or at least reducing the source of infection is the most useful approach in controlling stable flies. Areas of manure/straw/decaying matter should not be allowed to accumulate as these areas provide the perfect environment for flies to breed.

Pasture management

Reduction in the use of fields bordering woodlands has been advised in the peak risk period (June-September) where possible in the control of head flies.

Animal options

Pour-on and spray preparations together with insecticide impregnated ear tags are widely used to reduce fly annoyance. For head flies a number of repellent creams are available for application around the base of the horns however many of these only prevent skin contact.

In other words they do not reduce the annoyance caused by flies. Pour-on products applied at the dosing intervals recommended by the manufacturer will also aid control. It is best practice to start fly control early in the season (to reduce buildup of the fly population).

There are many products on the market and it is most advisable to read the guidelines supplied by the manufacturers and adhere to exact instructions regarding administration, dose, frequency of use and withdrawal periods.

In summary, the annoyance caused to cattle by flies is a real issue which has implications for both animal health and welfare. Remember to start fly control treatment in time this summer.

For more information on Butox Pour On talk to your vet.

References
*Depending on the degree of infestation, fly species and weather conditions


Watch: Tullamore Farm Series – Sheep

Held last month, the Tullamore Farm Virtual Series featured MSD’s veterinary advisor, Sarah Campbell, who spoke with the Irish Farmers Journal’s Darren Carty, covering a range of animal health issues facing sheep farmers.

Clostridial disease

On the night, Sarah highlighted the importance of vaccination against clostridial diseases. This is particularly important given that clostridial bacteria are a common cause of death in both lambs and sheep.

Clostridial infections of sheep and cattle are caused by a group of bacteria that exist in soil, on fields, within buildings and even in the tissues and intestines of cattle and sheep.

However, protection can be achieved by using a broad-spectrum vaccine to provide animals with the necessary antibodies to combat all the strains of clostridia.

Tribovax 10 is a low dose clostridial vaccine offering cattle and sheep producers the broadest available protection against clostridial bacteria.

Orf

Touching on the topic of Orf, Sarah advising sheep farmers to use preventative control measures against Orf, including the vaccination of the flock with Scabivax® Forte to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

Abortion

If farmers are having issues with abortion in their sheep, Sarah recommended that farmers get a diagnosis through submitting the foetus and placenta to a lab for analysis. If this is not possible, blood samples can be taken by a vet.

Toxoplasma gondii is the most commonly diagnosed cause of ovine abortion in Ireland and in the most recently published report, was diagnosed in 26% of samples submitted to the regional veterinary laboratories. 

Chlamydophila abortus is the second most common cause. Other less frequently diagnosed causes include leptospirosis, campylobacteriosis, salmonellosis and listeriosis.

Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, a control strategy can be planned. This will often involve vaccination against either toxoplasmosis, enzootic abortion (EAE) or both. 

For further information on any of the products discussed in this video contact your veterinary advisor or check out the Bovilis website for further product information.


BEEP-S Scheme 2021 – The details


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. The deadline for applicants is Monday 26th April 2021. Register here on the DAFM webpage. See figure 1 below for an overview of the 2021 programme.

Figure 1: Overview of the BEEP-S scheme for 2021.

One of the voluntary measures under Action 2 of the BEEP-S scheme is vaccination. The objective of this action is for farmers to implement a vaccination programme to reduce the incidence of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) 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. We would encourage farmers to opt for vaccination as part of option 2 of the scheme and to talk to your vet about vaccination protocols suitable for your weanlings at weaning.

Purpose of Action 2 – vaccination

If you select 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:

Figure 2. List of disease pathogens the programme aims to protect calves against through vaccination
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)

Which vaccines can farmers use to qualify for the scheme?

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.

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

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 4 below:

BRD on finishing times
Figure 4. Negative effects of BRD on finishing times1

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.

BVD eradication – Update and control measures

The incidence of BVD among Irish herds has declined dramatically since the introduction of the eradication programme in 2013. In 2013, there was 16,194 cattle identified as positive for BVD. In 2020, there was 804 cattle identified positive for BVD. As of week 9 2021 there has been 159 animals identified as positive for BVD in comparison to 168 for the same period in 2020. While these results indicate great progress has been achieved in eradicating this disease, these figures show that the virus still circulates in our national herd. To ensure this disease is eradicated we must continue our approach, as outlined below, at farm level since the introduction of the eradication programme.

How does BVD spread?

This mainly occurs by nose-to-nose contact between infected cattle within the herd. Introduction of infected animals (either transiently or persistently) to the herd provides the greatest risk. Contact with infected animals from neighbouring farms, at marts or shows and during transport facilitates spread of disease. Animals can be infected by exposure to contaminated equipment, other species including sheep or by visitors to the farm.

What is a transiently infected (TI) animal?

Acute or transient infection occurs when an animal becomes infected for the first time at any point in its life after it is born. The animal may scour and occasionally it can result in death of the affected individual but often this infection is not associated with any obvious signs. When animals are transiently infected with BVD their immune system recognises the disease and responds by producing antibodies to protect against the effects of BVD.
Transiently infected (TI) animals test virus positive at the time of infection but become virus negative within 3 weeks after infection. Once TI animals become clear of BVD virus they are no longer a threat to the rest of the herd. The majority of PI animals are born to cows which were transiently infected in the first 4 months of pregnancy.

Why do I need to vaccinate if I am testing all calves and removing PI’s?

Removal of PI animals will decrease the amount of virus circulating within the herd. However, if cows are not protected during pregnancy, transient infection during the first 4 months of pregnancy can result in the birth of future PI calves. The most effective approach to BVD control within the herd is to test and eradicate PI carriers, vaccinate to protect pregnant cows and be vigilant regarding biosecurity. On-going monitoring to ensure the herd control measures are working, form the last critical aspect of a comprehensive control plan.

Bovilis BVD Vaccination Protocol


8 CRITICAL POINTS RELATING TO BVD ERADICATION

  1. Tissue tag testing remains compulsory in 2020.
  2. Take tissue tag samples from all calves as soon as possible after birth.
  3. Submit samples to a designated laboratory.
  4. Tissue tag and test all calves born including still births.
  5. Carry out all necessary follow up testing once a PI is identified e.g. test dam of PI. If the dam is also positive all her other offspring must be tested. Where a decision is taken, based on veterinary advice, to re-test the calf, this must be done by means of a blood sample only (this also applies to testing of dams). DAFM will meet the costs of the visit by the herd’s veterinary practitioner and of testing the calf (and dam
    if sampled at the same time).
  6. A PI animal should not be sold but should be isolated and culled at the earliest opportunity. DAFM will automatically restrict movements into and out of herds that retain PI animals for more than 21 days after the date of the initial test (in the absence of a recorded date of death on AIM). DAFM supports for removal of PI calves remain at the following rates:
    BEEF HERDS:
    i. €220 for beef breed animals removed with a registered date of death on AIM within 10 days of the initial test, reducing to €30
    if removed between 11 and 21 days after the initial test.
    DAIRY HERDS:
    i. Dairy heifers and dairy cross calves: €160 if removed within 10 days of the initial test, reducing to €30 if removed between 11
    and 21 days after the initial test.
    ii. €30 for removal of bull calves within 14 days of the initial test.
    It is anticipated that from 1st April 2020, there will be a legal requirement to test pre-2013 born animals.
  7. Vaccinate all breeding animals before service each year to protect against infection.
  8. Maintain high level biosecurity and continue monitoring to ensure freedom from disease.

To find out more about BVD vaccination, please contact your veterinary practice.

Use Medicines Responsibly
Bovilis® BVD Suspension for injection for cattle vaccine contains inactivated antigen of cytopathogenic
BVD virus strain C-86.
Legal categories: ROI: POM (E) . NI: POM-V . Withdrawal period: zero days.
For further information please contact your vetinary practioner or MSD Animal Health Technical Team,
MSD Animal Health, Red Oak North, South County Business Park, Leopardstown, Dublin 18, Ireland.
Tel: +353(1) 2970220. E-Mail: vet-support.ie@merck.com
Web: www.msd-animal-health.ie


Kieran Flatley – All Set For Spring

Kieran Flatley gives us an insight to how he prepared for calving this spring

For more information on any of the products or diseases Kieran mentioned in this video, check out the links below. Alternatively, speak to your vet on how these products can be used within your herd.

Bovipast RSP & Bovilis IBR Marker Live

Scour vaccine & crypto control


Teagasc Masters Walsh Scholarship Opportunity

An exciting opportunity has emerged for one candidate to apply for a two year Masters program. Please see full spec of the Masters in the below document. The study is titled; Multivacc: Demonstration of safety and sero-conversion post concurrent administration of RSP Live & IBR Marker Live vaccines in calves.

Please send CVs to emer.kennedy@teagasc.ie or catherine.mcaloon@ucd.ie. Closing date for application is this week with interviews to follow soon after. Start date is immediate.


2020 Virtual Farmers Journal Dairy Day

This year, the Farmers Journal #DairyDay will be held virtually on Tuesday the 24th of November. The virtual event is divided into three different sessions which can be viewed for free at here

2020 Dairy Day

As we move into the winter months, it’s a great time to reassess the herds winter vaccination plans prior to calving next spring. MSD Animal Health advise that a month pre-calving is a good time to give a booster shot of Bovilis IBR Marker Live.

The Bovilis IBR Marker Live 12-month vaccine protocol. Consult with your vet to access if this protocol is suitable for your herd.

Also, the time for scour vaccination is soon approaching. Remember, vaccinate cows & heifers 12 to 3 weeks prior to calving to provide passive protection to calves through colostrum feeding against three common causes of scour. For more information on winter vaccination, talk to your vet.

See some of our product and disease brochures below. If you have any questions, please contact your local vet to discuss in more detail.


Footrot vaccination a big success on Roscommon sheep farm

Vaccination as part of the strategy to control footrot has meant ewes with more milk, better lamb thrive and more lambs sold for Roscommon farmer Joseph Kennedy.

On the advice of his veterinary practitioner, Donal Flynn of All Creatures Veterinary Clinic, Joseph introduced vaccination as part of a strategic footrot control plan five years ago.

“I had a serious lameness problem. The labour and time involved in treating lame sheep was very high. Fertility in affected sheep wasn’t what it should be and I had regular problems with ewes with twin lamb disease,” said Joseph.

There has been a big reduction in lameness and the use of antibiotics to treat lame sheep. Overall, there has been a massive improvement in sheep productivity.

Joseph runs a flock of 80 ewes and 25 replacement ewe lambs at Weakfield, Co. Roscommon.

The commercial flock of Rouge/Texel crosses has scanned at an average of 2.2 in recent years. He is also a pure-bred Rouge breeder and there is strong local and regional demand for his rams.

Campaign

Joseph is participating in a national information and awareness campaign run by XLVets on the benefits of vaccination as part of a strategic plan to control footrot. The campaign is run in association with MSD Animal Health, manufacturers of the only vaccine licensed for the control of footrot.

Michael Keaveney, who farms at nearby Athleague, visited Joseph Kennedy’s farm with veterinary practitioner Donal Flynn to hear Joseph’s story on the benefits of vaccination.

Michael farms in partnership with his father Liam in the village of Roundforth. They have a flock of just over 200 ewes. Ewe lambs are reared on the farm and those not needed for replacements are sold as ewe hoggets for breeding.

Persistent problem

In common with a large number of sheep farmers, the Keaveneys have a big problem with lameness.

“We footbath regularly and we treat all serious cases with an injectable antibiotic and an antibiotic spray. But the problem is still persisting.

“We still have up to 10% of our sheep lame at any one time. Lamb thrive is not what it should be and the time and labour involved in treating lame sheep is huge,” said Michael.

Joseph Kennedy outlined his footrot control strategy including vaccination when the ewes are housed. While he got a response in the first year after vaccination, he said he could definitely see a big response after the second year.

The body condition of the ewes and the excellent lamb performance on the Kennedy farm were aspects that particularly impressed Michael Keaveney.

Last year, Joseph Kennedy had twin lambs fit for sale at 12-13 weeks of age and the small number of singles were fit at 10 weeks, evidence of the excellent performance achieved.

Discussion

Michael is now having a discussion with Donal Flynn on the benefits of vaccination as part of the footrot control strategy.

According to Donal, vaccination as part of a rigid control strategy will be cost effective.

“As well as lifting productivity and greatly reducing labour, vaccination also helps to reduce antibiotic use, a very important consideration in the current climate of concern about over- use of antibiotics.”

Footrot and scald the major causes

According to Donal Flynn, footrot and scald account for 90% of lameness in sheep. CODD (Contagious Ovine Digital Dermatitis) accounts for 5% and the remaining 5% is the result of other causes, including strawberry foot, shelly hoof and abscesses.

“The first step in tackling lameness is to correctly identify the cause of the problem. Misdiagnosis and wrong treatment can often make the problem worse.

“It will pay to get your vet to carry out a detailed inspection, identify the bugs and prescribe the most effective treatment and control strategy,” he stressed.

He said footrot which is caused by two different bacteria is highly infectious. Housing, collection yards, gateways, wet areas and supplementary feeding areas are heavy sources of infection.

Every time a lame sheep takes a step a deposit of the bacteria is left behind and other sheep are at risk of infection. Sheep do not acquire immunity to infection.

Impact

“A productive sheep flock should have a scanning rate of 2.0, a weaning rate of 1.75, a target liveweight gain in lambs of 300g/day and ewe mortality of less than 2%.

“Lameness plays havoc with these key performance indicators. It depresses fertility, leads to higher incidence of twin lamb disease and results in ewes with poor colostrum and lower milk yield.

“The end result is lower lamb performance and the risk of increased ewe and lamb mortality not to mention the heavy financial and labour costs of treating infected sheep.”

Five Point Footrot Control Plan

Donal Flynn said that farmers who have adopted the following five point footrot control plan have achieved good success in greatly reducing lameness and improving overall sheep health and performance.

“But it requires a change of mindset on the part of farmers and a 100% commitment to all aspects of the plan if good success in controlling lameness is to be achieved.”

  1. Treat All clinical cases should be treated promptly and effectively, including the use of an injectable antibiotic as well as a localised antibiotic spray. Paring of hooves should be kept to the absolute minimum. It can delay recovery and can even make the problem worse.
  2. Quarantine – All lame sheep should be isolated from the flock and treated accordingly. Keep bought-in sheep separate for at least 21 days.
  3. Avoid Spread – Regular and proper footbathing helps to reduce the spread of the disease. Spreading lime at gateways and around feed troughs can also be helpful.
  4. Cull – Some sheep are chronic carriers and will not respond to treatment. They are a continuing source of infection and should be culled. Donal recommends a two strike policy – if the sheep fails to respond to two treatments, cull it.
  5. Vaccinate – Donal stated that where footrot is affecting 5% of the flock, vaccination of the entire flock, in conjunction with the other four measures, is highly cost effective.

The best time to vaccinate is around a month before the start of the breeding season or before sheep are housed for the winter. Do not vaccinate within four weeks before and after lambing or within at least six weeks prior to shearing.”

“The primary vaccination course consists of two injections six weeks apart. In areas of constant disease challenge, re-vaccination should take place every six months.”


Virtual Tour: Is Your Shed Ready For Housing?

See below, a virtual tour of a Teagasc shed. On the tour, we draw your attention to different areas which ensure optimal living conditions for the animals.


Bedding & Animal Space

When housing cattle, it is important to allow enough space for each animal to feed, drink and rest stress free. Animals of various sizes will have different space requirements. Always ensure that there is adequate bedding of clean, dry straw available during the housing period. Sheds should be bedded regularly to keep moisture levels low. To check, kneel in bedding for approximately 1 minute. If your knees are wet, the shed needs to be freshly bedded. The objective of bedding is to keep the animal clean and dry. Space requirement varies depending on shed type and the animal type. A suckler cow on straw will typically need 4 to 5 m2 of bedding space and weanlings on slats will need between 2 to 2.5 m2. For further information accommodation requirements see figure 1.

Figure 1: Winter accommodation for beef animals

Feed Space

When housing cattle this autumn, it is important that all bedding from the previous year has been removed and the shed has been thoroughly cleaned. All areas of the shed including the feeding area should be power washed and adequately disinfected from the previous year. Feed space requirements depend on the feed availability. A general rule of thumb is to ensure each animal can feed at the same time. Typically, a suckler cow requires a feed space of 600 mm with space for two cows to pass behind. Diagonal barriers have the advantage of less bullying and reduce the amount of feed taken into the pen. Allow for the bottom rail when deciding the height of the stub wall. The animal’s neck should not normally come in contact with the top rail with diagonal feed barriers. See figure 2 below for further animal space requirements.

Figure 2: Winter accommodation for beef animals

Ventilation

The objective of shed design is to ensure adequate air flow on a still day and to shelter animals on a day of high wind speeds. While this is possible for newly built sheds, older sheds may not be able to provide this function and rely on the stack effect. The stack effect is where the heat generated by animals in the building rises and is replaced by fresh air coming in at a lower level of the shed (above the wall, under the eaves or through the side sheeting/boarding). See figure 3 which illustrates this process.

Figure 3
Ventilation Calculations – Inlets and Outlets

The rate of ventilation is influenced by the size of the openings, the roof pitch and the difference between inlets and outlets. As a general rule of thumb, the inlet should be at least twice the size of the outlet. When designing a new building or improving an old one, it is important to calculate the area of outlet required in a roof to allow heat and moisture from the livestock to escape by natural convection. If making improvements to shed ventilation, inlet and outlet areas should be at least brought up to the sizes outlined in the DAFM specification S101. When considering inlet sheeting/boarding it is important to look at the function of each option. In certain situations either due to the layout or situation of a farm building, natural ventilation might be inadequate. In this instance, mechanical ventilation could be considered. You should consult with your agricultural consultant for the best advice on which sheeting/boarding to use which will depend on the prevailing wind direction, type of animal and number of animals to be housed in the shed.

Outlets
  • Ensure the outlet area is clean and clear.
  • General required outlet sizes can be seen in figure 4. These figures can be modified based on stocking densities and roof pitch.
Figure 4
Inlets
  • Inlets should be provided beneath eaves using either a continuous opening, louvered sheeting, plastic mesh, or space boarding.
  • The inlet area should be at twice the size of the outlet area to create a natural air flow.

Water Access

Clean water access is a primary requirement of all animal housing and must be available at all times. It is important that the location and height of the trough can accommodate all animals in that shed. Water is frequently spilt around water feeders. Ensure that the area around the feeder is well drained and any spilt water can drain away from the bedding area. Avoid placing feeders in areas where spilt water will pool creating flooded areas of the shed. Aim to give access to 10% of the group to drink at any one time. Animal water intake depends on the age and stage of lactation. See figure 5 for more detail

Figure 5

For further information regarding sheds modifications talk to you vet, your agricultural consultant or visit the Teagasc webpage through the link here.

Source:

  1. Ryan, T. & Lenehan, JJ. 2016 – Winter accommodation for beef animals Teagasc beef manual
  2. Anon 2013. – Calf house ventilation – The basics MSD Animal Health

Suckler farmer adopts vaccination option under BEEP-S


Suckler farmer Dara Walton has chosen vaccination as an optional measure under the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme-Sucklers (BEEP-S)

Dara Walton is well known in the beef farming community and indeed wider circles as one of the top performing beef herds in the country. He runs a herd of 60 spring-calving cows at Cappagh, Callan.  The farm straddles the Kilkenny-Tipperary border.  All progeny are reared to beef.

Dara Walton stands among his top performing beef herd located in Callen, Kilkenny

As part of the BEEP-S and to enhance the health of his stock, all weanlings are given their primary shot of Bovilis® Bovipast RSP around six weeks before they are housed. They get the booster shot four weeks later, along with a single shot of Bovilis IBR Marker Live.  They are housed for the winter two weeks later.

Bovilis® Bovipast RSP contains IRP technology and provides broad protection against bacterial pneumonia caused by the bacteria Mannheimia (Pasteurella) haemolytica as well as the two main viruses, RSV (Bovine Respiratory Syncytial virus) and PI3 virus (Parainfluenza 3 virus).  It is given under the skin.

As well as getting an additional BEEP-S payment of €30/calf, vaccination gives him the security and peace of mind of knowing that his valuable weanlings are protected against the major pneumonia threats.

Dara graduated from UCD with a degree in agricultural science in 2005.  He combined farming with an off-farm job for the first 11 years after graduation. Since he started farming full-time, he has expanded the suckler herd from 50 to 60 cows.

The cows are mainly Limousin and Simmental cross with a bit Parthenaise.  All replacements are home-bred and the aim is to have a breeding herd of three-quarters Limousin.  Breeding is currently 60% AI with a stock Limousin and Charolais bull.

Dairy calf to beef

He has also developed and expanded a dairy calf to beef enterprise.  This year he reared 60 calves, 40 Friesian bulls and 20 Angus and Hereford heifers. They were bought from his brother Pat, who runs a dairy farm next door. They were reared in three batches, starting in early February.

With around 250 animals to be managed and fed, he is facing into a busy winter.  This year has also been a little busier on the home front for Dara and his wife Muireann, a public health nurse. Their daughter Eloise was born 13 months ago.

His parents Tommy and Patricia live in the family home beside the farmyard. A sprightly 89-year old, Tommy still plays an active and helpful role.

Herd IBR vaccination programme in place

Dara Walton operates a whole herd IBR (Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis) vaccination programme for the past number of years.

All calves were vaccinated intramuscularly with Bovilis® IBR Marker Live about four weeks before they are housed. Now, they are vaccinated approximately two weeks prior to housing at the same time the booster shot of Bovipast RSP is administered.

All breeding stock are given an annual booster shot of Bovilis® IBR Marker Live prior to housing.

The recent granting of a 12-months immunity license for Bovilis® IBR Marker Live greatly simplifies the IBR vaccination programme for farmers like Dara.

IBR is a highly infectious disease and almost three-quarters of all suckler and dairy herds are known to be positive to the IBR virus.

He started putting jackets on the calves last year and finds them a great benefit in health and performance.  He also shaves the backs and tails of every animal at housing.  He finds it a big help in avoiding respiratory problems.

Top performance from excellent grass management

Excellent grass and top class grass management are the hallmarks of Dara Walton’s beef production system.

He won the Zurich/Farming Independent Beef Farmer of the Year award in 2019, in recognition of his skills and performance across all aspects of beef production.

The entire farm has been reseeded over the past 12 years and the results are visible in leafy grazing paddocks with plenty of clover.  He is faming 42ha of owned and 12 ha of rented land, which is used for two cuts of silage and grazing at the shoulders.

His target is to average 1kg/day gain from grass across all animals over the grazing season.  This year the continental yearlings gained 1.5kg/day from March to July and the Friesian steers averaged 1.2kg. 

While gains have gone back a bit since July, he is confident he will exceed the kilo/day target.  Performance is continually monitored through regular weighing.

Creep grazing

Calves are forward creep grazed ahead of the cows to ensure they get the most nutritious grass and achieve top performance. 

When bull beef became “a recipe for losing money” he went back to steer beef three years ago.  Steers are finished at 21-24 months and heifers at around 20 months.

Most of the finishing cattle are now housed and are getting around 7kg of concentrate. Finished heifers will be sold in about a month and he hopes to have most of the steers gone by Christmas.

Silage

Dara regards excellent quality silage as vital to the economics of his system.  Last year’s silage had a DMD of 78%.  This meant that no concentrate was fed to weanlings over the winter.

“I had 110 weanlings last winter and feeding them 2kg/day would have cost me €6,000.  While the Friesian steers were a bit scrawny going to grass, I got great compensatory growth and they averaged 1.2kg/day up to July,” he said.

The quality of this year’s silage is back a bit, at 71-75DMD.  He will probably have to feed the weanlings around a kilo/day of a high protein ration to keep them on a good growth curve.

The bucket-reared calves are fed meal for about two weeks after they are weaned off milk replacer.  They are then on high quality grass only for the rest of the grazing season.

Economics

Even with doing everything right, Dara Walton is frustrated with the economic viability of beef production.

“Price is the determining issue.  At €3.60-€3.65/kg, the economics just don’t stack up.  The price would need to be in the €3.90-€3.95 range for me to get a viable income and return on my labour and investment.”