BHC Newsletter Summer FINAL

SUMMER EDITION

ANIMAL HEALTH IRELAND Contributing to a profitable and sustainable farming and agri-food sector through improved animal health

BEEF HEALTHCHECK

NEWSLETTER

FEATURE ARTICLES

P2

PROGRAMME NEWS

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GARY FISHER

DR ORLA KEANE

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NATIONAL BEEF HEALTH PROGRAMME

Beef HealthCheck AnimalHealthIreland.ie

Animal Health Ireland, 4-5 The Archways, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, N41 WN27

BEEF HEALTHCHECK PROGRAMME UPDATE

SUMMER EDITION

Dr David Graham, CEO, Animal Health Ireland

C ollection of liver and lung data in participating plants has continued in 2018. In the first three months of 2018, ICBF received information on almost 200,000 animals, of which approximately two thirds were from beef herds. Analysis of data on the proportion in which liver fluke were observed, or which had evidence of fluke damage without fluke being observed showed these to be reported in an average of 3.4% and 16.6% of cattle, respectively, during this period. Initial comparison with data for the same period in 2017 showed that levels of both were similar in each year (Figures 1 and 2). The fact that fluke are being observed in livers during this period, when the majority if not all cattle have been housed for a period, may reflect a number of factors, including lack

of dosing, dosing at the wrong time, dosing with the wrong product, under-dosing, resistance to the product used, or a combination of these. Further analysis of these data will be carried out in advance of the next housing period in the autumn with a view to improving treatment outcomes. In the meantime, guidance on the products available for treating liver fluke, and management strategies for both cattle at pasture and at housing are available on the Animal Health Ireland website click here . In contrast to the findings with liver fluke, the overall level of lung lesions observed in the first three months of 2018 (1.2%) was lower than that recorded in the same period in 2017 (2.6%; Figure 3).

0.0% 0.5% 1.0% 1.5% 2.0% 2.5% 3.0% 3.5% 4.0% 4.5% 5.0%

2018 Live fluke 2017 Live fluke

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Figure 1 . Comparison of the levels (%) of live fluke recorded in BHC animals over the first 13 weeks of 2017 and 2018.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SUMMER EDITION

BEEF HEALTHCHECK PROGRAMME UPDATE

250%

20.0%

15.0%

2018 fluke damage 2017 fluke damage

10.0%

5.0%

0.0%

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Figure 2 . Comparison of the levels (%) of fluke damage (in the absence of observed fluke) recorded in BHC animals over the first 13 weeks of 2017 and 2018.

0.0% 0.5% 1.0% 1.5% 2.0% 2.5% 3.0% 3.5% 4.0%

2018 Pneumonia 2017 Pneumonia

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Figure 3. Comparison of the levels (%) of pneumonic changes recorded in the lungs of BHC animals over the first 13 weeks of 2017 and 2018.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SUMMER EDITION

FEATURE ARTICLE WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE A 365 DAY CALVING INTERVAL IN THE SUCKLER HERD

U nlike our black and white friends, the only output/sale from the suckler cow is her calf. In an ideal world the suckler cow should be doing this every 12 months and most importantly the calf needs to be alive! Analysis compiled by Dr Paul Crossan in 2014 showed that the annual cost of keeping a suckler cow on Irish farms ranged from €550 to €700, depending on factors including: 1. Length of winter. 2. Feed costs. 3. Replacement heifer breeding. 4. Veterinary costs. Where management is poor and grazing season short the cost of keeping the cow can escalate. Farmers can reduce suckler cow costs by e.g. calving close to the onset of the grazing season so that feed costs are minimised, but the costs listed above will remain the predominant costs for suckler beef farms. So the primary aim for suckler systems is to minimise costs while producing a live, healthy and heavy weanling annually so that suckler cow costs per calf or kilogram of weight weaned is minimised. The quality of calf is important but should not be the main focus, as a small living calf is better than a big dead one, particularly for farms selling weanlings. One of the key measures determining the cost and annual output from suckler beef cows is the calving interval. The target has always been 365 days, but for as long as I can remember the national average is sitting at around 400 days- in other words the cow is calving every 13 months. Nationally calving interval is currently sitting at 400 days, with the top 5% of farms at 388 days. So are things any different in the beef groups I facilitate in Co. Donegal where we have longer winters?

Gary Fisher, Beef Advisor, Teagasc, Donegal. Gary is based in Letterkenny and runs 5 beef discussion groups. In this article, Gary reports on the reproductive performance of his discussion groups against the national average and identifies lessons learned and areas for improvement on many Irish beef farms.

So the primary aim for suckler systems is to minimise costs while producing a live, healthy and heavy weanling annually so that suckler cow costs per calf or kilogram of weight weaned is minimised. The quality of calf is important but should not be the main focus, as a small living calf is better than a big dead one, particularly for farms selling weanlings.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SUMMER EDITION

THE IMPORTANCE OF A 365 DAY CALVING INTERVAL IN THE SUCKLER HERD

REPRODUCTIVE PERFORMANCE IN DONEGAL SUCKLER BEEF GROUPS IN 2017

AVG COWS

CALVING INTERVAL

CALVES / COW / YR

% DEAD AT BIRTH

% DEAD AT 28 DAYS

NO OF MONTHS WITH CALVING

GROUP

% RECYCLED

NATIONAL TOP 5%

400 388

0.85 1.07

4.6 -

5.7 -

- -

20 -

GROUP 1 (14) 1

387 (351)

0.88 (1.06)

1.4

2.6

6

19

24

GROUP 2 (11) 1

391 (362)

0.85 (1.08)

2.7

5.5

6

22

42

GROUP 3 (14) 1

383 (357)

0.92 (1.01)

0.9

3.1

5

14

29

GROUP 4 (5) 1

394 (360)

0.91 (1.01)

0

1.5

4

20

18

GROUP 5 (11) 1

397 (360)

0.87 (0.98)

1.2

1.2

6

20

36

1 Herds in each group Figures in brackets – top herd in each group. Group 4 – majority members calf to beef.

South Donegal Suckler Group on the farm of Neville Myles, Legaltion, Ballyshannon, Co.Donegal.

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BEEF HEALTH CHECK NEWSLETTER SUMMER EDITION

THE IMPORTANCE OF A 365 DAY CALVING INTERVAL IN THE SUCKLER HERD

MANAGEMENT As you can see from the above table the groups are all better than the national average and there are individuals in each group with calving intervals below the 365 day target. So one must ask the question what are these farmers doing differently from a management point of view? I see four management areas where these farmers are performing well but that need attention to some degree on many farms.

1. Calving season 2. Bull/A.I. 3. Grass 4. Calving ease

1. Calving season – on average each group are calving cows over 6 months each year and given the herd size (average of 30), this is too long. What starts out as spring calving can eventually turn into autumn calving – i.e. cows being recycled and this is evident above with recycling ranging from 14%- 22% in the groups. To alleviate this problem we come to the bull/A.I. 2. Bull/A.I. – the farms with calving interval below 365 have a definite start and finish date to breeding whether that is with A.I or natural service using a bull. The bull is quite happy to stay with the females, but unfortunately he will serve females that cycle after your end date for breeding, leading to longer calving intervals and longer calving season. Therefore it is important that the bull is removed at the end of the breeding season. Incidentally the farms that are using 100% A.I had calving interval below 365! The A.I technician was not called after the end of the breeding season. 3. Grass – a lot is spoken about this green stuff but how many have it when it matters? No matter how good your silage or meal is, there is nothing like spring grass to improve the body condition of a suckler cow and to get your cow cycling. Ideally cows should be at grass within six weeks of calving, although this will vary across the country, with most mixed drystock farms in Donegal aiming to have cows out by mid-April. Even that target was ambitious this year. So if cows are not going out to mid-April, then calving should not start until 1 st March. Too many cows are calving too early on average silage and on costly meal – losing condition and slipping in terms of calving interval. 4. Calving ease – 365 is the target and gestation length is 285 so you have 80 days to get your cow back in calf. Most suckler cow don’t start cycling until 6 weeks after calving which leaves only two cycles to get your cow back in calf naturally or with A.I. Therefore sire choice is critical, as difficult calving leads to a longer calving interval as the cow/ heifer take much longer to cycle after a difficult calving. Donegal vets are reporting a lot of difficult calvings this spring which leads to higher veterinary costs and longer calving intervals. Farmers need to record calving difficulty accurately so that difficult-calving bulls can be identified quickly and got out of the system.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SUMMER EDITION

THE IMPORTANCE OF A 365 DAY CALVING INTERVAL IN THE SUCKLER HERD

COST • Costs are typically expressed on an annual basis, but if calving intervals are greater than 365 days then the cost of maintaining suckler cows per calf weaned are greater than the annual cost. • Take the example of a cow with an annual average cost of €700 (which may have been even higher for 2017/18 winter) and has a calving interval of 395 days (one year and one month) – in effect the cost of this cow per calf produced is €757. Higher calving intervals reduce output and increase costs per calf. • The overall cost of longer calving intervals, taking into account the above factors, has been quantified as €2.20 per additional day on calving interval above 365 days. Data from ICBF indicates that the average calving interval for suckler cows in Ireland is 400 days. • Using this cost estimate and the national average calving interval and applying it to average herd of 30 cows above, total farm costs are increased by almost €2,310 (30 cows x 35 days longer calving interval x €2.20 per day). €2,310 could purchase 100 tonnes of lime or 7 tonnes of fertiliser. • Overall it is clear that the length of calving intervals on suckler beef farms is an important factor influencing overall farm profitability.

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BEEF HEALTH CHECK NEWSLETTER SUMMER EDITION

FEATURE ARTICLE

ANTHELMINTIC RESISTANCE ON DAIRY CALF TO BEEF FARMS

Dr Orla Keane, Animal & Bioscience Dept, Teagasc, Grange, Dunsany, Co. Meath

I rish beef production is pasture-based with grazing animals naturally exposed to gut worms. Gut worm infection in calves can result in ill-thrift, with sub- clinical infection resulting in reduced growth rates. Disease is generally a greater problem in dairy calf- to-beef than in suckler beef systems and is more common in the second half of the grazing season due to the build-up of worm larvae on pasture over time. After their first grazing season cattle generally develop sufficient immunity to prevent clinical disease but nonetheless heavy infections can reduce performance. Cattle in Ireland are usually infected with a number of gut worm species; the most common being Ostertagia ostertagi (found in the abomasum) and Cooperia oncophera (found in the small intestine). Most cattle gut worms have a similar life cycle, with free-living and parasitic stages. Eggs laid by mature female worms pass out with the dung, hatch and larvae feed on microbes in the dung. The larvae develop into infective third stage larvae after about 4-10 days, depending on weather conditions. The infective larvae migrate out of the dung pat onto the pasture where they can persist for extended periods. Once ingested by grazing cattle the larvae pass to the gut where they develop into adults, mate and lay eggs within approximately 3 weeks. Control of gut worms in cattle is usually achieved by the administration of broad spectrum anthelmintics. There are currently 3 classes of wormers licenced in Ireland for the control of gut worms, benzimidazole (commonly known as white wormers (1-BZ) e.g. fenbendazole), levamisole (commonly known as yellow wormers (2-LV)) and macrocyclic lactones (commonly known as clear wormers (3-ML) e.g. ivermectin). Theseproducts havebeenhighlyeffective in controlling gut worm infection for over 50 years; however, in recent years there have been a number of reports of anthelmintic resistance. Anthelmintic

Risk factors for the development of anthelmintic resistance include dosing animals too frequently, dosing and moving animals to clean pasture immediately, under-dosing animals and continual use of wormers from the same class.

resistance is defined as the inherited ability of worms to survive doses of drugs that should kill them, and it is detected by a faecal egg count reduction test. A study was carried out to determine if resistance to benzimidazole and macrocyclic lactone anthelmintics was present on dairy calf to beef farms in Ireland. A total of sixteen dairy calf to beef farms, spread around the country were recruited for the study in 2017. These farms each had a minimum of 40 co-grazing first season calves. The faecal egg count of the herd was monitored fortnightly from the beginning of May to determine the level of gut worm infection. Once the herd egg count exceeded 100 eggs per gram, the faecal egg count reduction test was conducted. Forty calves from the grazing group were weighed, dung samples collected, and 20 calves were treated a macrocyclic lactone (ivermectin) subcutaneously at

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SUMMER EDITION

ANTHELMINTIC RESISTANCE ON DAIRY CALF TO BEEF FARMS

a rate of 1 ml per 50 kg bodyweight while 20 were treated with benzimidazole (fenbendazole) orally at a rate of 7.5 ml per 100 kg bodyweight. The calves returned to grass and 14 days post-treatment dung samples were again collected. Anthelmintic efficacy was determined. On all 16 farms ivermectin resistance was present. On 2 of the farms the worm egg count actually increased after ivermectin treatment. On 12 of the 16 farms there was fenbendazole resistance. The species of worm that was resistant was identified. On all farms Cooperia were resistant to ivermectin while for 82% of the farms Ostertagia were also resistant. On 36% of farms Cooperia were resistant to fenbendazole while on 91% of farms Ostertagia were resistant. The results from this study demonstrate that anthelmintic resistance can be detected on Irish dairy calf to beef farms. Strategies to mitigate the risk of anthelmintic resistance need to be urgently put in place. Determining which anthelmintic classes are

effective on the farm is a first step in designing an effective worm control plan. Monitoring for gut worms is important and should be an integral part of a herd health strategy. There are also a number of factors that can influence the rate at which anthelmintic resistance develops. Risk factors for the development of anthelmintic resistance include dosing animals too frequently, dosing and moving animals to clean pasture immediately, under-dosing animals and continual use of wormers from the same class. Where possible use grazing management to limit the exposure of young calves to gut worms by grazing new leys or forage crops in the spring or hay or silage aftermath later in the season. Mixed or sequential grazing with sheep will also reduce the worm challenge as most worms are species- specific. Bought-in stock may harbour anthelmintic resistant worms, so it is important that purchased animals are treated immediately with an anthelmintic and isolated for at least 48 hours before being turned out to pasture that has been recently grazed by cattle.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SUMMER EDITION

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