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

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


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


Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme


As part of the Green Acres program, Agriland have constructed a Calf Health and Management series. As part of that series, Suzanne Naughton from MSD Animal Health discussed some of the key challenges when purchasing calves and the role of vaccination throughout the rearing period.

While calf purchase price and the genetics of the calf are foremost in terms of making a profit on calf-to-beef systems, calf health is also a pillar which deserves significant consideration. Focusing on hygiene and vaccination is the best policy to ensuring this happens. Pneumonia and scour are the two major illnesses that compromise calf health and reduce lifetime performance.

Prevention is always better and cheaper than the cure and a health plan should be implemented on-farm. It should be noted that no amount of vaccination can overcome a lack of quality colostrum administered to the calf at birth and the bacterial and viral challenges calves face when the environment they are reared in is not up to scratch.

Check out the full video below for more information. Also, you can find out more about the vaccines mentioned in this video by clicking on them below
Bovilis INtranasal RSP Live
Bovipast RSP
Bovilis IBR Marker Live

Vaccine Management

Remember that correctly administering and storing vaccines is important to improve the success of a vaccination programme.

“Once you get your vaccines, they should be kept in the fridge until you are ready to go with your batch of animals.

“Vaccines should be made up according to the recommendations on the data sheet in the box – all the information on how much to administer and where is on the data sheet provided.

“Start with a clean needle and a clean syringe. If you are using an old dirty needle, you are increasing the likelihood of an abscess or lump developing.”