2016-01-29   facebooktwitterrss

Zoetis Sponsor Calf Health Farm Meetings

Zoetis, one of the leading animal health companies in Ireland, have held a series of 12 calf rearing events over the past few weeks.

Zoetis Area Veterinary Manager Charles Chavasse, who is one of Ireland’s well known veterinarians, has spoken at well attended farm meetings on calf rearing in Arklow, Co. Wicklow; Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow; Blarney, Bandon and Killeagh Co. Cork; Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford; Cappamore, Co. Limerick; and in counties Galway, Longford and Tipperary.

Charles Chavasse

Charles Chavasse

Most recently Charles Chavasse, spoke to a group of dairy farmers on the farm of Glanbia milk supplier Philip Meaney near Kilkenny city. This meeting was held in conjunction with the Ormonde Veterinary Clinic.

More meetings are planned and next week, Charles will be speaking to milk producers in Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford, in conjunction with the Comeragh Veterinary practice.

Charles outlined how pneumonia in the young, pre-weaned dairy heifer calf, can have a long term impact on the overall lifetime productivity of the individual animal. The first 8 weeks in the life of a dairy heifer are crucial. The growth rates at this early stage have long term effects on the ability of that animal to produce milk in the future.

This is in part due to the development of the mammary tissue in the young calf, which is highly responsive to nutrient intake. Anything that hinders nutrition and health in the young calf can have long term detrimental effects which contribute to a loss in production and farm profitability.

Discussing some recent Irish studies conducted by Dr Stephen Morrison in AFBI, the Northern Ireland Agricultural Research Institute, Charles detailed how pneumonia in young calves can reduce first lactation yield by 4% and second lactation yield by 8%. In animals that suffer pneumonia relapses, first and second lactation yields are reduced even further, by 5% and 10% respectively.

Other international researchers have demonstrated how pneumonia in young calves has been shown to reduce growth rates by 3%-9% which cannot be overcome by compensatory feeding. Good growth rates in young calves bodes well for the future as on average, for every additional 100g of average daily gain during the first 2 months of life, about 225kg of additional milk in the first lactation can be expected.

On the other hand when growth targets for dairy heifers are missed (due to ill health etc.) they are unlikely to be on target for breeding at 15 months of age and calving at 24 months of age. Heifer calves that develop pneumonia have a delayed age at first calving and are known not to last as long in the milking herd, with reduced days in milk over their lifetime compared with calves that never suffer from pneumonia.

Pneumonia is regarded as the most commonly treated condition in Irish cattle and reports from the Regional Veterinary Labs every year indicate that pneumonia is the number one killer of Irish calves. According to CSO data the number of dairy cows was up by 69,400 (+5.7%) last June to 1, 295.8 Million and there are 1,075.8 Million beef cows in the state so the number of young calves will be at a record level this spring and can be valued at around €250 million on farm depending on the average price of calves for 2016.

The loss of a calf due to pneumonia is an obvious and measurable cost, but the hidden costs associated with pneumonia should not be underestimated. Pneumonia at any age can have long-term impacts on an animal’s overall productive life but pneumonia in the first crucial 8 weeks of life is well recognised as affecting her overall lifetime productivity. For example research studies have shown that 12 month old dairy replacement heifers to be ~20kg live weight lighter than their potential due to subclinical respiratory disease.

Massive Short Term and Long Term Impact of Pneumonia in Dairy Replacement Calves:

  • Average cost of €53 per case at time of disease (treatment costs, time etc.)

  • Increases age to first calving by two weeks

  • Reduce 1st lactation yield by 4% and 2nd lactation yield by 8%

  • Reduces the number of overall days in milk by an average of 109 days

Past research has shown that calf pneumonia can cost the industry in Britain and Northern Ireland as much as £80 million per year. They have a herd of 3.4 Million beef and dairy cows so pro rata the cost of pneumonia disease in the Republic of Ireland is about €75 Million.

Rispoval RS+Pi3 Intranasal, is a user friendly and very cost effective, single dose vaccine from Zoetis which can be administered from 9 days of age. Because it is a live vaccine, applied intranasally, it works very fast, providing protection against RSV virus within 5 days and Pi3 protection within 10 days.

Using this vaccine ensures calves are covered against two of the most common causes of virus pneumonia in Irish calves as fast as possible, and for as long as possible. Crucially it also provides cover as early as possible, for that all important first 8 weeks of life.


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