Meet the 6 champions of this year’s Pr€vention for Profit competition

This year the Pr€vention for Profit competition is focused on sheep. The competition is aimed at sheep farmers who are maximising their on-farm profitability by focusing on the four pillars of production – nutrition, breeding, animal health and management.

The competition is divided into two categories, lowland and hill sheep farming systems. Three lowland and three hill sheep farmers have been chosen as champions.

The six champions are being assessed by a panel of judges on the four pillars of production and the two winning champions (one lowland and one hill) will win an all expenses paid study tour to Scotland in summer, 2022.

Scroll through the document below to meet all of this year’s champions!

Keep and eye out in the 21st of October’s Irish Farmers Journal where we will be announcing the winners of the competition.


Salmonella vaccination a vital investment for Co. Waterford farmer

Salmonella is a significant disease on Irish dairy farms and can greatly impact on herd productivity and profitability. The implications include high abortion rates, high calf mortality, reduced growth rates and depressed fertility in animals that do overcome the infection. It is also a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transferred easily from animals to humans.

Tom Power, Dairy Farmer, Waterford

One farmer who doesn’t take any risks when it comes to Salmonella is Waterford farmer, Tom Power. Farming in Drumhills, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Tom is milking a herd of 300 cows in a spring-calving system.

In the video below, Tom outlines the importance of Salmonella control on his farm and why vaccinating with Bovilis® Bovivac® S has become a critical component of his herd management programme.

“The herd is at a size now, where we can’t take any chances with their health and that’s why we vaccinate against Salmonella. Like most farmers do, we put a huge amount of time and effort into getting the cows into calf, so keeping them in calf is our number one priority,” says Tom.   

No farm is risk free

According to Tom’s local Veterinary Practitioner, Declan Gilchrist from Deise Vets in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, “no farm is risk free. Just because you haven’t had Salmonella on your farm before, doesn’t mean you are protected from it.”

Vaccination against Salmonella

Currently in Ireland, Bovilis® Bovivac® S is the only vaccine available for the control of salmonellosis in cattle. Healthy calves from approximately three weeks of age can receive the primary vaccination course of two 2ml injections separated by an interval of 14 to 21 days.

Calves over six months of age and adult cattle should receive two 5ml injections 21 days apart. All cattle vaccinated with the primary vaccination course of Bovilis® Bovivac® S should receive a 5ml injection at least two weeks prior to each period of risk or at intervals of no more than 12 months thereafter.

Tom concludes: “We try to give each animal a chance and by vaccinating against Salmonella every year, we are reducing the risk of illness and ensuring the cow’s health and performance is not impacted. As it is a zoonotic disease, vaccination also possibly lowers the risk to anyone working here on the farm.”

Reasons to control Salmonella 

There are two strains of Salmonella to be aware of for your herd. Salmonella dublin (S dublin) is the most common type associated with abortion in cattle in Ireland and has a high carrier status. Salmonella typhimurium is more commonly associated with diarrhoea outbreaks but can be a cause of abortions.

As well as causing abortions, clinical signs can vary from very mild diarrhoea to those which show obvious signs of fever, dehydration, and profuse diarrhoea, followed by death in a few days.

Clinical outbreaks in young calves can often resemble pneumonia. Acute infections can become chronic and may result in poor thrive, chronic diarrhoea, and terminal dry gangrene.

Salmonella is a significant disease on Irish dairy farms. It can survive for up to two years in the right conditions and the disease is shed mostly in faeces.

In many cases, cows that are infected with Salmonella will often appear clinically normal and Salmonella can survive for up to two years in the right conditions and the disease is shed mostly in faeces. In many cases, cows that are infected with

Salmonella will often appear clinically normal and healthy. It is common when these animals become stressed that they begin shedding the bacteria, infecting other cows, or getting sick themselves. 

Hygiene and biosecurity to control Salmonella

Vaccination is critical; however, to maximise animal immunity and minimise exposure, it must coincide with the strict management measures outlined below.

  • Maintain a closed herd.
  • If buying in, quarantine arrivals for a period of four weeks minimum.
  • Strict biosecurity should be particularly maintained around cases.
  • Faecal material from clinical cases must not enter the slurry tank.
  • A disinfection point should be in place for everyone who enters and leaves the farm to use.
  • A rodent and bird control plan should be in place, especially regarding access to feed stores.
  • Hygiene of buildings between batches of animals is also critical.

For more information about controlling Bovine Salmonellosis in your herd talk to your vet or visit Salmonella – Bovilis – MSD Animal Health


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 diarrhea and pneumonia can be challenging and this year was no exception. Weaning dairy calves, dealing with coccidiosis threats, pneumonia and clostridial vaccination; the calf ‘to do’ list can be comprehensive. What about IBR vaccination?

IBR – Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis

Infection with IBR virus is widespread in the cattle population in Ireland, with evidence of exposure in over 70% 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 six months of age, however all ages are at risk of IBR.

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.

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 3 components to controlling this endemic disease:

  1. Vaccination
  2. Biosecurity
  3. Culling

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 epidemiological situation of each farm. In the absence of virus circulation among the young calf group, vaccination is started at the age of three months, revaccination six months later and all subsequent revaccinations within six to 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 seroprevalence 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.

If vaccination needs to be carried out before the age of three months (high prevalence/high-risk herds/disease in calves) then intranasal vaccination is the recommended route in order to overcome maternally derived antibodies.

An intramuscular vaccination programme then commences at three-four months of age, as stated above. For the spring calving herd this will mean calves will receive their first dose of a live IBR vaccine in June/July 2021.

Bovilis IBR Marker live

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 a fast onset of immunity (four days after intranasal administration and 14 days after intramuscular administration).

Biosecurity

Biosecurity can be further divided into 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 restrictions 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 strategies such as segregating age groups and indeed vaccination.

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 (once infected an animal becomes a life-long carrier) and therefore it would not be economically viable.

In summary, the majority of herds in Ireland are of medium or high seroprevalence so vaccination with a live IBR marker vaccine combined with biosecurity 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.


MSD Animal Health bolsters commitment to udder health with new teat sealant, CepraLock®

CepraLock® – a new teat sealant recently launched by MSD Animal Health highlights the company’s commitment to the future of udder health in Ireland.

Available to vets and farmers from June 2021, this new teat sealant is a significant addition to the current MSD Animal Health dry cow portfolio – complementing its market leading dry cow intramammary product and the wider dairy herd health portfolio.  

With new regulations on veterinary medicines coming into effect in January 2022, MSD Animal Health is dedicated to supporting both vets and farmers, by supplying them with the necessary tools required to safely transition from blanket dry cow therapy practices and the adoption of a more selective approach to dry cow therapy based on individual cow information.

This is known as a more holistic, cow centered approach industry wide.

CepraLock® Launch

Speaking at the recent MSD Animal Health webinar, Udder Health – The Past, The Present and The Future, Peter Edmondson, Veterinary Consultant, stated:

“The veterinary practitioner has a really important role to play in the transition from blanket dry cow therapy to selective dry cow therapy.

“This is an opportunity for veterinary practitioners to engage with and educate clients on best practice protocols such as hygiene, product selection and data driven decisions for a more sustainable approach to dry cow therapy.”

According to Dr. Jantijn Swinkels, DVM, PhD, Ruminants Technical Director Veterinarian at MSD Animal Health, all “farmers should be using internal teat sealants, with studies showing that nearly 25% of teat ends remain open for as long as six weeks after drying off.

“Adding a teat sealant to a dry cow management program helps prevent infection and supports the responsible use of antibiotics.”

CepraLock® is designed for use at drying-off, with or without a dry cow intramammary antibiotic, and provides an important inert barrier in the teat canal to reduce the risk of a bacterial infection of the udder during the dry period.

CepraLock® will be available from June 2021 and can be purchased in single boxes of 24 tubes (6 cows) and buckets of 144 tubes (36 cows). Both include biodegradable disinfectant wipes for udder preparation.

MSD Animal Health is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals and the people who care for them, through comprehensive health management solutions, products, technologies, and services. 

For more information on CepraLock® contact your vet.


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.


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


Animal Health remains a priority on farm – Leptospirosis in cattle

As calving comes to an end, focus turns to breeding management. Selecting the correct genetics is vital to the performance of the herd and in order to fully achieve the genetic potential of the herd, correct decisions with regard management, nutrition and animal health must occur. Leptospirosis is a disease that cattle are exposed to while at pasture and can effect their reproductive performance.

In the pre-recorded video below, Cara Sheridan (Technical Advisor – MSD Animal Health) outlines the effect of Leptospirosis disease on cattle performance and mechanisms by which Leptospirosis can be controlled.

Leptospirosis is one of the most common causes of abortion in cattle in Ireland. It is an endemic disease, meaning that the majority of herds test positive for it.

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease meaning it can cause disease in humans. Leptospirosis can be acquired from contact with urine, afterbirth or aborted foetus of an infected animal. Esentially, all those working with stock are potentially at risk. Clinical signs of the disease in humans are flu-like, with headaches and fever, occasionally progressing to meningitis.

  • There are two serovars of Leptospirosis commonly found in cattle in Ireland;

Leptospira interrogans hardjo and Leptospira borgpetersenii hardjo

Leptospirosis circulates in a herd by direct transmission from infected animals (new infections or carrier animals) or by indirect transmission through urine, birth fluids, milk, contaminated water or other species e.g. sheep. Leptospirosis is very difficult to eradicate as some cows can become carriers. Leptospires can also survive for up to six weeks in wet soil and stagnant water or slow moving streams.Clinical Signs of Leptospirosis

Early signs are usually mild and transient and therefore may go unnoticed.

The most common clinical signs include;

  • Milk drop – A sudden decrease in milk yield
  • Abortions – Usually occur 6-12 weeks after the initial infection.

Abortion rates may be up to 30% in a herd infected for the first time.

  • Infertility – Low pregnancy rates and therefore increased culling due to low fertility
  • Weak calves – Infection in late pregnancy can result in the birth of weak calves that die within a few hours of birth

Diagnosis of Leptospirosis

Based on;

  • Blood sampling and looking for high antibodies level in affected animals (which can prove difficult as often the infection were present 6-12 weeks before clinical signs become apparent e.g. low pregnancy rates picked up at scanning)
  • Culture of urine samples
  • Leptospiral abortion diagnosis is best based on finding bacteria in the foetus

Speak to your vet about investigating Leptospirosis in your herd.

Control of Leptospirosis

  • Isolation of the sick cow and aborting cow
  • Biosecurity  – Avoid the introduction of infected animals
  • Quarantine until test negative
  • Double fencing at perimeters
  • Vaccination – The only practical way of controlling Leptospirosis

Timing of Vaccination

It is essential to vaccinate heifers before their first pregnancy. The primary vaccination course consists of 2 injections 4-6 weeks apart and thereafter an annual booster before turnout and at least 2 weeks before breeding.  It is a 2ml dose, given under the skin to all cattle >1 month of age. The correct use and timing of vaccination are vital to their success, always read the manufacturers recommendations.

Why vaccinate with Bovilis Leptavoid-H?

  • Bovilis Leptavoid-H is the only vaccine licensed to protect against both strains of Leptospira hardjo
  • Bovilis Leptavoid-H is the only vaccine that is licensed to improve conception rates where Leptospirosis has been diagnosed as a cause of infertility
  • Bovilis Leptavoid-H can be used on the same day as Bovilis BVD (to cattle >8 months of age)