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Will EWE paint it pink this October?

Will EWE ‘Paint It Pink’ This October?


MSD Animal Health calls on farmers to join in on cancer awareness initiative 


Dublin, October 23rd 2015: MSD Animal Health is calling on farmers across Ireland to show their support for the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) by painting their farm gates pink this month. The Irish Cancer Society’s ‘Paint it Pink’ campaign aims to raise awareness, and much-needed funds for the charity, by encouraging businesses and local communities to have a pink-themed October. In addition to its call on the farming community, MSD Animal Health is also making a financial contribution to ICS in support of its fundraising efforts.


Commenting on the initiative, Seamus Maguire, General Manager, MSD Animal Health, said: “We’re calling on farmers around the country to join us in marking ‘Paint it Pink’ month by adding a splash of colour to their farm or land. Cancer touches the lives, and affects the extended families, of so many Irish people today. MSD Animal Health are delighted to support ICS this month in raising awareness of a extremely deserving cause.”

 Paint it pink

MSD has become a leader in corporate responsibility in Ireland, and was recently ranked as the top contributor in Ireland, based on pure corporate funding support, and fourth overall in terms of total contribution including employee fundraising, volunteerism and in-kind donations. The global healthcare company contributed over €1.6 million to 474 Irish community groups in 2014, through a series of flagship corporate responsibility initiatives, including local Neighbour of Choice partners, fundraising days, local community investments and a wide range of patient partnership programmes. MSD employees also volunteered nearly 1,400 hours of their time throughout the year.

Go pink for cancer

MSD Animal Health is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals, and is a global leader in the research, development, manufacturing and sale of veterinary medicines.  It is a subsidiary of MSD’s Human Health business, which provides healthcare solutions and innovative medicines in areas such as diabetes, heart disease, immunology, oncology, infectious diseases, women’s health and anaesthesiology.


For more information on paint it pink, or to donate, visit


Vaccination is a key part of footrot control for Monaghan farmer

Vaccination a key part of footrot control on Monaghan sheep farm

Vaccination is a key component of the footrot control programme for Monaghan sheep farmer Michael McHugh.

“We have been vaccinating for the past five years and we find that, when combined with effective treatment, proper foot bathing and culling of chronic cases, it has given excellent results,” said Michael who runs a pedigree Texel flock of 140 ewes and a 170 ewe commercial flock at Lisnashannagh on the outskirts of Carrickmacross.

He gets vital support in running the enterprise from his son John.  A qualified vet, John works with Murphy Sheerin Veterinary in Baltinglass, Co Wicklow.  He plays an active role in running the family’s pedigree and commercial flocks.

As the former head of the Teagasc sheep advisory service, Michael McHugh has vast experience in dealing with the ravages of lameness in sheep, to which footrot is the biggest contributor.

“Footrot is a persistent problem in a large percentage of sheep flocks and is one of the biggest factors affecting performance and profit, not to mention the massive drain on labour.  It is particularly difficult to eradicate where stock are being bought in,” he said.

When we called last weekend, Michael had sold all but one of this year’s crop of 61 Greenhill Texels ram lambs.  Of the six rams waiting collection, one was destined for a farm in Germany, an indication of the reputation of the flock.

All ewe lambs are held on the farm.  Around 60 are used as replacements for the pedigree flock and the remainder are sold as pedigree ewe hoggets for which there is a strong demand.

Michael McHugh, Co. Monaghan shows how vaccination has helped sheep diseases such as footrot

He participates in the LambPlus performance recording service provided by Sheep Ireland. The aim is to provide detailed performance information on pedigree sheep for use in Sheep Ireland’s genetic evaluations.  All lambs are EID tagged at birth and all performance information is recorded using a portable electronic tag reader.

The emphasis now in McHugh’s Greenhills flock is on selection for maternal traits such as ease of lambing and milk yield.

The commercial flock consists of Cheviot/Suffolk ewes crossed onto Texel rams.  Lambs and cull ewes are sold through Monaghan Lamb Producer Group. Replacement ewe hoggets are bought in every year.  They come from Michael’s brother and nephew who run the home farm in Donegal.

“We have a scrapie monitored flock and must be careful of where we buy replacements. The bought-in hoggets are foot bathed with zinc sulphate immediately they arrive and are given the footrot vaccine.  They are kept separate from the main flock for at least three weeks,” he said.

All replacements are also vaccinated against toxoplasmosis and enzootic abortion.  Animals are not subsequently boosted.  There is also a rigid vaccination programme against pneumonia and clostridial diseases.

Proper foot bathing is vital

Operating as a vet in an intensive sheep area in west Wicklow, John McHugh has first-hand knowledge of the importance of effective footrot control programmes.

“Foot bathing techniques often leave a lot to be desired.  Running sheep through the bath and letting them straight onto grass just doesn’t work.  They should be left standing in a dry clean area for at least an hour,” he stressed.

Where there is a lameness problem, he advised foot bathing every two to three weeks.


Fiona Lovett, UK Sheep Consultant speaks on Footrot  Dr Fiona Lovatt addressing farmers at a seminar on sheep health in Cavan.    


A big drain on income

“Where footrot affects one in 10 sheep and is not treated, the income loss could be €20/head for every animal in the flock through lower fertility, poor performance and deaths of lambs and ewes. That’s a loss of €2,000 in a flock of 100 ewes not to mention the labour drain.”


This was the message from leading British sheep health specialist Dr Fiona Lovatt who spoke recently at a seminar for sheep farmers in Cavan.  The seminar was organised by local veterinary practitioner Finbarr Kiernan in association with MSD Animal Health.


Dr Lovatt, who is a vet and provides strategic advice on sheep health to farmers across Britain from her Durham base, said sheep never develop an immune response to natural infection with footrot.  This is why some sheep remain persistently infected and others continue to get re-infected.

“If footrot related lameness is over 2%, vaccinate the entire flock.  There is one licensed vaccine available.  Used as part of a strategic plan, it is highly effective,” she said.


Five-point control plan

Fiona Lovatt outlined the following five-point plan for controlling footrot:

FootbathUse an effective foot bathing solution.  Ask your vet for details.

TreatClinical cases should be treated with an antibiotic spray and a long-acting antibiotic injection.  Pare only lame sheep and only where there is a benefit from doing so.  Routine foot paring has been associated with an increase in lameness.

Segregate – All lame sheep should be isolated from the flock and treated accordingly.  Keep bought-in sheep separate for at least 21 days.

Cull – Some sheep are chronic carriers and will not respond to treatment.  They are a continuing source of infection and should be culled.

Vaccinate – It is highly effective against virulent footrot when used as part of a strategic plan.  It also helps to reduce antibiotic use, an important consideration in the current climate of concern about over-use of antibiotics.

MSD sponsor Roscrea Premier Show and Sale

Roscrea Premier Show and Sale, 8th August 2015

The MSD Animal Health sponsored Supreme Champion of the Suffolk, Roscrea Premier Show and Sale held in Roscrea is pictured with the owner Liam McGonigle, Cloontagh, Clonmany, Co. Donegal and Fergal Morris, MSD Animal Health. As well as winning the crown of Supreme Champion of the Show this ram won 1st prize in the Novice Ram lamb Class and 1st prize in the Open Class as well as Male Champion.

Born:   01/01/2015

Sire:              SHANNAGH RESOLVE (95757)

Dam:             DYH:12:047 by WHITESTONE FOOTPRINT (95582)

G.Dam:         DYH:N88 by CAIRNESS ACHIEVEMENT  (94170)


Supreme Champion  of the show winning the Novice ram lamb class, Liam McGonigle


The second image is of the Reserve Champion bred by Messrs Wm J & R Wilson of Raphoe, Lifford Co. Donegal. This ram was 1st  prize winner in the class for ram lamb sired by South of Ireland  bred ram lamb and also 1st in the group of three ram lambs. Pictured with the reserve champion are: Andrew Wilson holding the ram; bother of Richard Breeder; Pat Greaney Judge & Fergal Morris of MSD Animal Health (Show sponsor)

Born:   01/01/2015

Sire:              SHANNAGH RESOLVE (95757)

Dam:             DDX:12:018 by CAIRNESS ACHIEVEMENT (94170)

G.Dam:         CFJ:L2 by STRATHISLA DYLAN THOMAS  (92528)

Winners of the ram lamb sire, J&R Wilson

MSD attending NMR Conference 2015

“Driving dairy efficiency from birth to bulk tank”

This is the key message being driven at this years NMR conference in Tobermore, Co. Derry BT46 5LD on Wednesday 5th August. At the event you will see how their family run farm has expanded their herd from 140 to 240 over the past 4 years with addition of SAC Futureline Max robots.

Topics which will be discussed include:

  • Getting calves on target for a lifetime of productivity – Mairead O’Grady (MSD) / Liam Young (Drumrainey Vets)
  • Efficiency through genomic testing – Lucy Andrews (NMR)
  • Zero Grazing; the merits and the costs – Dr. Ronald Annett (McLarnon Feeds)
  • Lisnamuck herd performance, management & feeding – Sean Fullerton / David Mawhinney (McLarnon Feeds)

Farm tours will begin at 10am with the final one commencing at 12:30pm. Lunch will be served after the final tour.


For more information on the event, register by contacting Ivro Hyndman on or calling +44 7825 177348 or alternatively contact your local McLarnon representative.

How to stop nuisance flies reducing your herd’s milk yield this summer


Treating cows now with an ectoparasiticide will help to reduce the fly population on your farm for the remainder of the summer and autumn. Research1, 2 has shown that nuisance flies affect dairy cow productivity during warm weather, according to Fergal Morris, Ruminant Business Unit Manager at MSD Animal Health.  Fergal said June, July and August are key months when it comes to fly control and if it turns warm and damp farmers need to prepare for the worst – flies breeding rapidly with hundreds of flies becoming thousands and even millions within days.


“The weather is changing from warm and dry to warm and damp, both farmers and cows will be irritated with an increase in nuisance flies over the coming weeks and months. “


Flies multiply fast and efficiently when conditions are favourable. One fly can lay thousands of eggs, so a single fly today, which lays a thousand eggs, gives rise to approximately 500 breeding females from this. These 500 females potentially create a further population of a thousand eggs each within 10 days.  At this stage the problem is very visible and treatment is less likely to have a significant impact on the fly population.

Cows coming out of parlour

Flies are not just an irritant for cows and farmers, they also affect cow productivity – reducing the intake of grazing cows and therefore reducing yields. They can also spread disease, for example summer mastitis. ‘‘The preventative treatment approach is best when it comes to dealing with flies and this is why farmers need to take action now. It’s also important that farmers apply the treatment properly. Pour on’s need to be poured down the whole length of the back.”


Butox Pour On provides up to 2 months cover against a broad3 range of flies that emerge throughout the summer and autumn months.


Butox Pour-On Suspension 0.75 % w/v contains 7.5 mg Deltamethrin per ml for topical use.

Use Medicines Responsibly.
For further information, please consult the product SPC, your veterinary practitioner or MSD Animal Health, Red Oak North, South County Business Park, Leopardstown, Dublin 18, Ireland. Tel: +353(0)1 2970220 E-Mail: Web:
Legal category: LM
  1. Bruce, W. N., and G. C. Decker. 1958. The relationship of stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans) abundance to milk production in dairy cattle. J. Econ. Entomology. 51: 269 -274.
  2. Stork, 1979. The epidemiological and economic importance of fly infestation of meat and milk producing animals in Europe. The Veterinary Record. 105: 341-343.
  3. Haematobia irritans, Hippobosca equina, Stomoxys calcitrans, Musca autumnalis and Musca domestica


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.