IN CONTROL – DAIRY FARMER SHARES HIS EXPERIENCE TACKLING CALF SCOUR

We caught up with Michael Clarke to see how he got on tackling cryptosporidium on his dairy farm during the spring of 2020.

“We got great results with little or no sick days. We went 100% by the book and did what we were meant to. Last Spring, we gave it to calves from the first day of the calving season, on day one of the calf’s life. We continued giving it to the calf for the full 7 days after feeding and that’s the reason we got such good results” said Michael

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

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

Cryptosporidiosis is one of the main causes of scour in calves less than two weeks of age. Caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium parvum, it results in acute scour and abdominal pain.

“We had the first outbreak in 2018. It didn’t hit until around the 7th of March when most of the cows had calved.

“In 2019, it came much earlier – around the 22nd of February. This was right in the middle of calving. Intervention came too late” said Michael.

At one stage, his vet John Moore had to put eight calves on a drip. Four of them died. “The labour and the cost was horrendous” said Michael

It was after this episode that Michael decided, following the advice of John Moore, that to get on top of cryptosporidiosis all calves must receive the oral solution from birth.

Oral solution

As soon as cryptosporidiosis was diagnosed in 2018, John Moore prescribed the oral solution which is licensed for the treatment and prevention of diarrhoea caused by Cryptosporidium parvum. Containing the active ingredient Halofuginone lactate, it is available only on veterinary prescription.

  • As a treatment, it should be given to calves within 24 hours after the onset of diarrhoea, once a day for seven consecutive days. Make sure calves are fully hydrated before treating them with the oral solution.
  • As a prevention, it should be given to every calf 24 to 48 hours after birth, once a day after milk feeding for seven consecutive days.

Learning From The Past

Michael Clarke administered the oral solution in 2018 and 2019, only after the first calves were diagnosed with cryptosporidium in each of these years.

“Last year, we didn’t wait for the disease to hit. Instead, we started the programme at the beginning of the calving season. Calves received their first dose the day after birth for seven days.”

The Clarkes are very diligent in their calf rearing practices. Calves are given plenty of colostrum within a few hours of birth and close attention is paid to nutrition levels and to bedding, hygiene and ventilation. This demonstrates that even with good management, cryptosporidiosis is an ever–present risk.

“It’s a must to have your sheds properly power washed and disinfected before calving starts. Previous years, I wasn’t using the product correctly either. I wouldn’t have finished the treatment course and then problems start arising. Three to four weeks into calving, the disease pressure is at its highest and there’re a lot of calves on the ground. So last year, we cleaned out the calf shed every 10 days but didn’t power wash or disinfect as we didn’t have time to let the sheds dry. That, along with the treatment and good management was effective at keeping the disease at bay” said Michael

Michael saw fantastic results in controlling cryptosporidiosis however some calves started to show positive signs of rotavirus around 4 weeks into the calving season.

“When the calves got a heavy infection of cryptosporidium in 2019, I decided to drop the scour vaccine last year. This resulted in the calves getting a touch of rotavirus at around day 18 of the calving season. I talked to John (vet) and we decided that we would vaccinate the cows with the scour vaccine again this year and protect the calves against cryptosporidium from the start of calving season. I get great peace of mind with this broad range of cover” said Michael

Veterinary practitioner John Moore.

Disease Can Get Out of Control

Veterinary practitioner John Moore said where cryptosporidiosis is a problem on a farm the use of the oral solution should be a critical component of the prevention programme. “All calves should be treated daily from 24 to 48 hours old for seven consecutive days.

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

“While the oral solution is not cheap, its use as a prevention is a more economical option than the massive labour, stress and cost involved in treating sick calves as well as the potential losses from dead calves and poor thrive in those that survive,” he stressed.

He highlighted the importance of strictly following the instructions on the use of the oral solution. “Dosage levels should correspond to the weight of the calf and when used as a treatment, make sure the calf is fully hydrated and bright before use.”

Millions of Oocysts

As part of its life cycle, Cryptosporidium parvum produces huge numbers of encysted eggs, or oocysts, which are shed in the faeces of infected calves, cows or other animals.

At peak shedding there may be as many as 10 million oocysts per gram or faeces. It takes as few as 20 of these to cause disease in young, susceptible calves.

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

Period of rapid expansion

The Clarkes converted to dairying in 2010. They ran a suckler herd of 100 cows and bought in around 140 weanling bulls. There was also a flock of 100 ewes.

They bought 200,000l of quota under the new entrant scheme and started off milking 48 heifers.

Last year, they milked 270 cows. This year, they will calve 280 cows and plan to milk around 260. The remainder are being sold as in-calf heifers.

“Our plan was to milk 120 cows. But a neighboring farm of 114 acres came up for lease and we decided to go for it. An additional 50 acres also became available and we leased that too,” said Michael.


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.


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.”


Watch: Fine Tuning Irish Dairy Webinar


On Wednesday September 2nd, MSD Animal Health, The National Dairy Council and Axa Insurance hosted the Fine-Tuning Irish Dairy Conference for a second year running by means of a digital webinar.

WATCH: Fine-Tuning Irish Dairy Webinar Session 2 – Adopting Monitoring Technology on Irish Dairy Farms

0:00 – 19:30: Presentation by William Minchin, Ruminant Director, MSD Animal Health

19:30 – 54:00: Panel discussion including Cara Sheridan, Vet Adviser, MSD Animal Health who discusses the role of the vet with monitoring technology ; Eamon Sheehan, Dairy Farmer who has installed this technology and gives an insight to how it is performing on his farm and, George Ramsbottom, Dairy Specialist, Teagasc who discusses the return on investment and making monitoring technology work on your farm.

Moderated by Matt O’Keeffe

Panel discussion: Fine-Tuning Irish Dairy Webinar Session 2 – Adopting Monitoring Technology on Irish Dairy Farms

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.

Kieran Flatley gives an insight into Harrigton Farms in Kilkelly, Co. Mayo where they calve down 160 sucklers cows in the spring.

Earlier this year, Kieran applied for the BEEP-S scheme. As part of the scheme, farmers had to apply before 15th May 2020. When applying, they had to indicate what actions they would undertake. See figure 1 below which outlines the actions points of the scheme.

Figure 1: The Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme – Sucklers for 2020

For more information on the BEEP – S, click here


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.
Watch: BEEP-S overview and how to correctly qualify for payment if you selected vaccination under Action 2 of the 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.

Watch: Suzanne Naughton highlights some pre-weaning tips and suitable vaccination protocols ahead of the upcoming weaning/housing/sale period

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.

FAQ on IBR Control

Vaccination Starts With The Calf

There are 3 components to controlling this disease
1. Biosecurity
2. Culling
3. Vaccination

Biosecurity:
To keep the disease out of IBR free herds and to limit the spread in herds with IBR positive animals

Culling:
Culling of animals which have tested positive for IBR. In many herds it is not a practical option as there are simply too many animals which are positive (once infected an animal becomes a life-long carrier) and therefore it would not be economically viable.

IBR calf vaccination
Calves from 3 months of age can be vaccinated using Bovilis IBR Marker Live into the muscle

Vaccination
For effective control of IBR, vaccination must:
• Reduce the number of new infections – main cause of virus spreading in a herd
• Reduce severity of clinical signs – Limit cost of disease impact

FAQ on IBR disease and Bovilis IBR Marker Live


Do I need to vaccinate my herd for IBR?

75% of herds have been exposed to IBR, it is an endemic disease in Ireland. Clinical signs are not always present in infected cattle. Subclinical disease (without signs) can result in losses of 2.6kg of milk/cow/day. Speak to your vet regarding screening for the virus through bulk milk tank testing and blood sampling animals in your herd.

Herd level prevalence of IBR by county in Ireland1

I vaccinate my cows and heifers against IBR – should I vaccinate my calves?

The benefit from whole herd IBR vaccination starting with the youngstock is that the calves are protected from the virus and this minimises the number of animals that become carriers. Every animal that is infected with IBR becomes a lifelong (latent) carrier and these animals are the source of infection in the herd.

I vaccinate every 6 months against IBR – can I move to every 12 months now?

12 monthly vaccination (after the initial 2 vaccinations 6 months apart) may be suitable for low prevalence IBR herds. Speak to your vet on how to assess and monitor herd prevalence. Check out the below video showing how to get your herd onto the 12 month vaccination protocol for Bovilis IBR Marker Live. Again, consult with your vet to determine if your herd is suitable to move to the 12 month protocol

I got a high IBR reading in my bulk tank – what should I do?

Talk to your vet about what this high reading may mean in terms of virus in your herd. A high reading indicates that virus is actively circulating in the milking cow herd.

My bulk milk tank test is negative for IBR – does this mean my herd is IBR free?

Not necessarily; bulk tank antibody tests only detect IBR virus when at least 20% of the milking cows are carriers. If you have a suspicion that IBR is in your herd, speak to your vet regarding blood sampling individual animals.

I know IBR is circulating within my cow herd, can they pass the virus to the calves?

In short, yes they can. Cows are most likely to shed virus at times of stress e.g calving time, peak lactation. If calves are in the same air space (remember IBR can travel for 5 metres) as older animals who are shedding virus then they are vulnerable to the disease.

Sub-clinical IBR can have a significant impact on production output

My neighbouring farmer vaccinates for IBR – I’m a beef farmer, how do I check if my herd has IBR?

Blood sampling is the most common method to determine the prevalence of IBR disease within a beef herd. This involves sampling all animals or a representative number of animals in the herd. Talk to your vet for more information.

There is an outbreak of IBR on my farm – is it safe to use Bovilis IBR Marker Live in the face of an outbreak?

Yes, for the fastest onset of activity; 4 days, it can be given intranasally. Onset of immunity after intramuscular administration is 14 days.

I vaccinated my calves up the nose at 1 month of age against IBR – do I give them a booster?

Yes. Calves that received an initial shot of Bovilis IBR Marker Live up the nose will require a booster 2 ml shot, at 3-4 months of age. At this age or older animals, can be vaccinated either intranasally or into the muscle.

What is a marker vaccine?

Marker vaccines do not contain glycoprotein E (gE) and therefore do not cause production of antibodies to gE. Field virus and non-marker vaccines on the other hand do contain gE and therefore lead to production of antibodies to gE. An IBR gE ELISA test in herds that are vaccinating with marker vaccines allows differentiation between vaccine and wild virus antibodies. Non-marker vaccines are still available in Northern Ireland. IBR marker vaccines are the only type of IBR vaccine available in the Republic of Ireland.

Bovilis IBR Marker Live is the number 1 IBR vaccine in Ireland

Which vaccine should I use for IBR protection – live or inactivated?

Less shedding of the virus occurs in animals that have been vaccinated with a live vaccine compared to animals that had received inactivated vaccines. Studies have shown that live IBR marker vaccines provide better protection against clinical signs than inactivated vaccines. There is limited evidence that using inactivated vaccine can result in a better reduction of shedding by reactivated latently infected animals than live vaccine. Bulls intended for use as future AI sires must not be vaccinated with any type of IBR vaccine.

Addition info

Live vaccineInactivated vaccine
Primary courseStandard or low-risk herds
Young calves (2weeks-3months of age)Pedigree herds (except potential AI sires)
All herds including high-risk herds 
High prevalence herds 
In the face of an outbreak 
Comparison of live and inactivated IBR vaccines

Risk factors to a herd:

  • Purchasing stock (especially without a quarantine procedure)
  • Mixing stock from two different farms, including contract rearing operations
  • Poor boundary fences, IBR can spread for up to five metres
  • Bringing cattle to and from the mart
  • Attending agricultural shows
  • Personnel -Farm workers who are in contact with other stock

Talk to your vet today about IBR calf vaccination from 3 months of age, using Bovilis IBR Marker LiveFor more check out our brochure here, our IBR page or Twitter page


References
1. Bosch et al (1996) An attenuated bovine herpesvirus 1 vaccine induces better protection than two inactivated marker vaccines. Veterinary Microbiology 52, 223-234


Do calves need an IBR vaccine?


Turning calves out to grass for the first time is seriously rewarding. Rearing healthy calves in the first place takes great effort and hard work. Minimising the impact of diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia can be challenging and this year was no exception with the storms of early spring to the warm daily temperatures and cold nights of April. Weaning dairy calves, dealing with coccidiosis threats, pneumonia and clostridial vaccination; the calf ‘to do’ list can be comprehensive. What about IBR calf vaccination?

3 month old calves can receive a 2 ml shot of Bovilis IBR Marker now followed by a 2 ml shot in 6 months time. They can then be vaccinated every 12 months

IBR – Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis

Infection with IBR virus is widespread in the cattle population in Ireland, with evidence of exposure in over 75% of herds (both beef and dairy).  It is capable of causing disease (both clinical and subclinical) resulting in huge economic losses at farm level through lack of production and treatment costs. The majority of infections are seen in cattle greater than 12 months of age. However all ages are at risk of IBR.

IBR Calf Vaccination
Herd level prevalence of IBR by county in Ireland1

Clinical infections usually occur when animals are infected for the first time. Signs such as discharge from the eyes and nose, loud laboured breathing, high temperatures, resulting depression and reduced appetite may be experienced. Milk yield may be affected, and abortion may also occur. Subclinical infections are those without overt clinical signs and for this reason may go unnoticed for some time in a herd. Subclinical IBR can result in losses of 2.6kg of milk/cow/day.

The financial impact of subclinical IBR can be significant

Those infected for the first time shed high levels of the virus for approximately two weeks. At times of stress (e.g. mixing/housing/breeding/calving) the virus can reactivate, and that animal may shed again. Every time an animal sheds the virus it has the potential to infect more herd mates.

Control of IBR

There are three components to controlling this endemic disease;

  1. Biosecurity
  2. Culling
  3. Vaccination

Biosecurity

Biosecurity can be further divided into two parts. Bio exclusion and bio containment.

Bio exclusion (the process of keeping disease out of a herd) is of particular importance in Ireland as many herds purchase cattle (e.g. the stock bull), avail of contract rearing for heifers, attend marts or shows (present Covid-19 times excluded). IBR can cross distances of up to five metres so neighbouring cattle during the grazing season can also be a source of infection or vice versa.

Bio containment (the process of reducing the threat of infection within a herd) relies mainly on herd management – segregating of age groups for example.

Culling

Culling of animals which have tested positive for IBR is a quick method to reduce herd prevalence. However, in many herds it is not a practical option as there are simply too many animals which are positive. Remember, once infected an animal becomes a life-long carrier and therefore it would not be economically viable option.

IBR Calf Vaccination
Bovilis IBR Marker Live is the No.1 IBR vaccine on the market in Ireland!

Vaccination

For effective control of IBR, vaccination must:

  • Reduce the number of new infections – Main cause of virus spreading in a herd
  • Reduce severity of clinical signs – Limit cost of disease impact

The time to start vaccination depends on the particular situation of each farm. In the absence of virus circulation among the young calf group, vaccination is started at the age of 3 months and revaccination 6 months later. All subsequent revaccinations within 12 month periods. This will provide protection against IBR virus and minimise the number of animals that become carriers. Herds that have a moderate to high prevalence of IBR, are high-risk and/or have clinical signs are best to remain on a six monthly vaccination programme until IBR is under better control in the herd. For the spring calving herd this will mean calves will receive their first dose of a live IBR vaccine in June/July 2020.

In high prevalence herds or where there is disease in the calves, vaccination will be needed sooner than 3 months. Intranasal IBR vaccination is the recommended route in order to overcome maternally derived antibodies in this scenario. An intramuscular vaccination programme then commences at three-four months of age as stated above. See video below explaining the vaccination protocol for Bovilis IBR Marker Live

Bovilis IBR Marker Live – 12 month vaccination protocol starts by vaccinating the calf from 3 months of age

Bovilis IBR marker live provides protection by reducing clinical signs and virus excretion. It is the only single dose IBR marker vaccine for use either intranasally or intramuscularly. It is a 2ml dose with the fastest onset of immunity (four days after intranasal administration and 14 days after intramuscular administration).

The majority of herds in Ireland are of medium or high seroprevalence. Vaccination with a live IBR marker vaccine combined with biosecurity and monitoring are the most practical and appropriate control methods. Many herds are missing a trick by only vaccinating the cows. This is controlling clinical signs and the impact of IBR on production but not necessarily reducing the spread (to unvaccinated younger cattle) and therefore the number of new infections each year. The aim of whole herd vaccination is to reduce the level of IBR in the herd over time. In answer to the opening question – yes; to IBR vaccination of calves.

Talk to your vet today about IBR calf vaccination from 3 months of age, using Bovilis IBR Marker Live. For more check out our brochure here, our IBR page or Twitter page

References
1. Bosch et al (1996) An attenuated bovine herpesvirus 1 vaccine induces better protection than two inactivated marker vaccines. Veterinary Microbiology 52, 223-234