BHC Newsletter Spring FINAL

SPRING EDITION

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

BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER

FEATURE ARTICLES

BEEF HEALTHCHECK REPORTS SOON TO RESUME Natascha Meunier | Page 3

WHAT IS THE FARMER’S ROLE IN TACKLING AMR? Julie Bolton | Page 4

VACCINATION YEAR PLANNERS Rebecca Carroll | Page 11 PARASITE CONTROL AT TURNOUT Natascha Meunier | Page 7

FIRST RESULTS FROM THE NATIONAL CONTRACT HEIFER REARING PROJECT | John Mee | Page 14

NATIONAL BEEF HEALTH PROGRAMME

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

AHI UPDATE AHI welcomes Natascha Meunier as new Beef HealthCheck Programme Manager A HI is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Natascha Meunier as Beef HealthCheck Programme Manager. Dr David Graham said; “I am pleased to welcome Natascha to AHI. In her role as Beef HealthCheck Programme Manager, she will further develop the programme to include data analysis of the information captured in the meat factories with a view to establishing the economic cost of liver and lung diseases on Irish farms and strategies to reduce these. It is also hoped, as part of her role to develop and implement protocols to investigate and record anthelmintic resistance”. Natascha graduated as a veterinarian from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, in 2005. She worked there for several years in mixed practice and as a government vet. In 2011, shemoved to the Netherlands to complete a MSc in epidemiology, where she also worked in private practice as a veterinary practitioner. With a keen interest in infectious diseases, Natascha undertook a project studying bovine tuberculosis in cattle and wildlife in Uganda, obtaining her PhD in epidemiology through the Royal Veterinary College and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2016. She has since worked on research projects based at the University of Edinburgh. Natascha is currently training as a resident in Veterinary Public Health and Population Medicine.

Dr David Graham, CEO, Animal Health Ireland

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

BEEF HEALTHCHECK PROGRAMME UPDATE Data collection and the issuing Beef HealthCheck reports soon to resume

Dr Natascha Meunier, Beef HealthCheck Programme Manager

T he Beef HealthCheck programme relies on the services of temporary veterinary inspectors (TVIs) to collect data on liver and lung conditions during the carcass inspection. Unfortunately, data collection for the programme was significantly reduced in the second half of 2018, as a result of industrial action by TVIs. As a result, many farmers did not receive regular reports on the liver and lung scores of their cattle. Early this year, an agreement to resolve this dispute was reached between the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Veterinary Ireland. The majority of factories have now resumed data collection and the programme should soon be back on track in terms of issuing reports and gathering data to allow continued analysis of trends, including liver fluke levels. The Beef HealthCheck Online dashboard is still available to farmers and their veterinary practitioner through the ICBF website. Beef HealthCheck Online provides tools to review current information and data from both current and previous years. This allows parasite and pneumonia control programmes to be monitored and tailored as needed.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER WINTER EDITION

FEATURE ARTICLE What is the Farmer’s Role in Tackling AMR?

Julie Bolton, Veterinary Inspector, AMR Division, DAFM, Backweston.

What is AMR? Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to grow/survive in the presence of an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics) that should be capable of killing it when given at the correct dose, in other words the veterinary medicine is no longer effective to treat the disease. The terms antimicrobial and antibiotic are used interchangeably but in the context of talking about AMR we are referring to bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Antibiotics are natural or synthetic substances that inhibit the growth of or destroy bacteria. The discovery of antibiotics has revolutionised health care and prolonged life expectancy across the globe. In animal health antibiotics are vital tools to protect animal health and welfare, productivity, and facilitate the production of safe, nutritious food. The term antibiotic residue should not be confused with AMR. If there is an antibiotic residue in the food, this means that there are traces of antibiotics and associated metabolites remaining in meat and milk derived from animals that have been treated with antibiotics. If a farmer adheres to the required withdrawal period for an antibiotic then there is no risk of an antibiotic residue occurring in the meat or milk from the treated animal. However adhering to the withdrawal period does not prevent the development of bacterial resistance over time. Any use of antibiotics will over time lead to bacteria becoming resistant to these veterinary medicines, and the antibiotics will become less effective at treating disease. AMR is a very serious global public health threat. Without effective antibiotics, infections that were once deemed relatively minor have the potential to kill. Scientists estimate that if AMR continues to spread at current levels, by 2050 10 million people may die from AMR related infections, more than the death toll due to cancer.

AMR is a natural phenomenon. Bacteria have been around for millions of years and have developed various survival mechanisms. Bacteria acquire resistance genes which enable them to survive treatment with an antibiotic. Every time we use antibiotics some of the stronger bacteria develop resistance genes in order to survive. The misuse and overuse of antibiotics accelerates the rate at which resistance develops.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

WHAT IS THE FARMER’S ROLE IN TACKLING AMR?

How resistance develops AMR is a natural phenomenon. Bacteria have been around for millions of years and have developed various survival mechanisms. Bacteria acquire resistance genes which enable them to survive treatment with an antibiotic. Every time we use antibiotics some of the stronger bacteria develop resistance genes in order to survive. The misuse and overuse of antibiotics accelerates the rate at which resistance develops, and the problem is that the continued inappropriate use in the human and animal populations has resulted in the increased rate of development and HP-CIAs stand for Highest Priority Critically Important Antimicrobials which are the drugs of last resort for treatment of many bacterial infections in humans. These groups of antibiotics are critical tools to treat disease in humans where the first line antibiotics have not worked. Given the importance of HP-CIAs in human health, strict controls should be applied to their use in veterinary medicine. These antibiotics should NOT be used prophylactically to prevent disease, or as a first line of treatment in animals. They should only be prescribed when there are no effective alternative antibiotics available for the treatment of the bacterial disease. See Table 1 for examples of trade names of products containing HP-CIAs. spread of resistant bacteria. What are HP-CIAs?

Antimicrobial Family

Active

Examples Of Product Trade Names

Baytril, Enrocare, Enrotril, Colmyl, Doraflox, Enrodexil, Enrotron, Enrox, Enroxil, Fenoflox, Floxibac, Kariflox, Quinoflox, Roxacin,

Enrofloxacin

Fluoroquinolones

Marbocyl, Marbocare, Marbonor, Boflox, Forcyl, Kelacyl, Marbim, Marbosyva, Marfloxin, Marbox, Masterflox

Marbofloxacin

3 rd and 4 th Generation Cephalosporins

Cefquinome

Cobactan, Ceffect, Cefimam, Cephaguard, Qivitan,

Excenel, Naxcel, Alfacef, Cefavex, Cefenil, Cefokel, Ceftiocyl, Cevaxel, Cemay, Curacef, Eficur

Ceftiofur

Polymixins

Colistin

Coliscour, Colfive, Hydrocol, Sogecoli,

Tylosin

Bilosin, Bilovet, Pharmasin, Tylan, Tylo, Tylosin, Tylovet, Tylucyl

Erythromycin Gamithromycin

Erythrocin

Zactran Zuprevo Draxxin

Macrolides

Tildipirosin

Tulathromycin

Tilmicosin Hymatil, Micotil, Milbotyl, Pulmotil, Pulmovet, Tilmodyl, Tilmovet Table 1. Antibiotics licenced for sale in Ireland containing HP-CIAs. (Source HPRA website accessed Feb 2019)

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

WHAT IS THE FARMER’S ROLE IN TACKLING AMR?

It is vital to keep these particular last resort antibiotics effective in human medicine, and so the animal health sector has a responsibility to ensure that this particular group of antibiotics are never used as first line treatment in animals. In Ireland, DAFM has published a policy document which outlines the conditions under which these last resort antibiotics should be used in veterinary medicine. We need to ensure that these antimicrobials remain effective for people and animals into the future. Your vet should only prescribe these antimicrobials when no other treatment will work as proven by the results of culture and sensitivity testing of samples taken from clinically affected animals. Responsible Use of Antimicrobials

Reducing the quantity of antibiotics being used in the both the human and animal health sector is key to addressing the challenge of AMR. Minimising disease on your farm means minimising the use of antibiotics as well as maximising productivity. When it comes to animal health, prevention is always better than cure in terms of maximising productivity with knock on benefits in terms of reducing antimicrobial usage and mitigating the risk of AMR development. Good biosecurity, vaccination, adequate housing, optimal stocking densities and parasite control are the cornerstones of disease prevention in animal husbandry. Antibiotics must not be used to compensate for poor farm management practices. What factors Increase the likelihood of AMR

developing? • Underdosing.

• Not finishing the treatment course. • Inappropriate use of antibiotics. • Using antibiotics of last resort (HP-CIAs) as first line therapy. • Incorrect Disposal. • Overuse of antibiotics.

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BEEF HEALTH CHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

WHAT IS THE FARMER’S ROLE IN TACKLING AMR?

FOLLOW THE ABOVE STEPS BELOW TO KEEP ANTIBIOTICS WORKING, IT’S RIGHT FOR YOUR ANIMALS, RIGHT FOR YOU, RIGHT FOR YOUR FAMILY, RIGHT FOR YOUR FARM AND RIGHT FOR YOUR COMMUNITY

Six R’s The “six rights” should be applied in prescribing and using antibiotics:

1. Right veterinary diagnosis; Accurate diagnosis is essential to identify if an animal is suffering from a bacterial infection that will benefit from treatment with an antibiotic. Veterinary practitioners are best placed to make this decision. 2. Right animal; only the animal that has a bacterial disease should be treated with an antibiotic. 3. Right Veterinary Medicine; Antibiotics should only be used when absolutely necessary, and when the vet has diagnosed that there is a bacterial disease present. The antibiotic chosen for treatment should be effective to treat against the particular bacteria causing the disease. Bacterial isolates should ideally be tested for antibiotic resistance in the laboratory to ensure the chosen antibiotic will work. 4. Right dose; Antimicrobials should be administered as per the instructions on the prescription. Animal weights should be estimated as accurately as possible. Underdosing animals accelerates the rate of resistance development. 5. Right duration; antibiotics should be given as directed by the veterinary practitioner. Do not stop the course prematurely as this will not fully treat the disease and may result in resistance to this antibiotic in the future. 6. Right storage and disposal; All medicines should be stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions in order to maintain their efficacy. All out-of-date medicines, containers and application equipment (including needles to a sharps container) should be placed in appropriate clinical waste containers. Antibiotics should never be disposed of with domestic rubbish or poured down the drain or toilet as this leads to development of resistant bacteria in the environment.

A ‘Code of Good Practice Regarding the Responsible Prescribing and Use of Antibiotics in Farm Animals’ was launched in November 2018, click here to view. The development of and spread of AMR is a challenge for public and animal health into the future, we all have a role to play in keeping antibiotics effective for future generations.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

FEATURE ARTICLE

Parasite Control at Turnout

Dr Natascha Meunier, Beef HeathCheck Programme Manager

Introduction Cattle acquire parasite infections while grazing pastures. This means that turnout is the beginning of the period when animals are exposed to the infective stages of parasites on the pasture. If cattle become infected, it may be several weeks before signs of parasitism are seen. These signs include reduced growth rates, scouring, coughing and reduced fertility. To reduce losses due to poor performance, it is better to implement a parasite control programme before noticeable clinical signs are seen. While it is tempting to treat frequently to counteract any production losses, there is an increased risk of resistance in the long-term if anthelmintics are used incorrectly or over-used. Farmers should work closely with their veterinary practitioner to develop the most suitable parasite control programme specific for their farm conditions. If you suspect that there may be resistance on your farm, consult with your veterinary practitioner as this can be tested by taking faecal samples before and after treatment. To maximise the effectiveness of anthelmintics, ensure that the correct dose is being given according to the weight of the animals. Gut Worms Controllinggutworms dependsoneffectivegrazingmanagement, good nutrition, and the appropriate use of anthelmintics (wormers). Control involves trying to limit the typical increase in parasite contamination on the pastures that is seen as the grazing season progresses.

At the start of the grazing season, cattle are usually susceptible to new infections of lungworm but the highest challenge period is in late summer and autumn. Calves that are turned out onto pastures that were grazed by young animals the previous year are at higher risk of infection. Dairy-to-beef calves are at particularly high risk.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

PARASITE CONTROL AT TURNOUT

Grazing management Animals that are high risk of being affected by worm infestation should be grazed on low contamination pastures. These include: • New or reseeded pastures, • Pastures not grazed by cattle the previous year, • Pastures previously grazed by sheep only for 1-2 months, • Pastures co-grazed by sheep and cattle (note that sheep are also affected by liver fluke), • Pastures that undergo rotational grazing. Appropriate use of anthelmintics Cattle have differing susceptibility to worms depending on their acquired immunity. Adults are at low risk of showing any clinical signs of gut worm infestations. Suckler cows usually do not require treatment for gut worms. Second season grazers are at medium risk as they are not yet fully immune to gut worms and can show poor performance or disease. Animals that were not fully exposed in their first year are at higher risk e.g. late-born calves or beef suckler calves, and these should be monitored. First season grazers initially have no immunity to parasites and are at risk of worm infestations, but the risk differs depending on the type of calves. Beef suckler calves are initially at low risk of gut worm infestations as they have a low grass intake when they are still suckling from their mothers. Around weaning, beef suckler calves become exposed to contaminated pastures and are at much higher risk and should be appropriately monitored. Dairy calves in calf to beef systems are at high risk as they are exposed to infection as soon as they are turned out. They should be grazed on a low contamination pasture and closely monitored. Calf growth rate and body condition should be monitored, and faecal samples taken from 10-15 calves to check the number of worm eggs around 8 weeks after turnout. If nutrition seems appropriate but growth rates are below target (0.6-0.75 kg/ day) or a significant number of worm eggs are seen, then using anthelmintics is justified. Follow-up monitoring will depend on the anthelmintic given, if calves are treated, and the grazing management on farm, and seeking veterinary advice is recommended.

Recent research suggests that treating only those animals in a group with growth rates that fall below target still maintains satisfactory group performance.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

PARASITE CONTROL AT TURNOUT

Lungworms Lungworm infection (‘hoose’) can cause clinical signs such as coughing and difficulty in breathing. Cattle which are affected by lungworms are also more likely to develop viral and bacterial pneumonia. Cattle do develop immunity to lungworm infection, but it is short lived (6 months) and without further infection they can lose their immunity. At the start of the grazing season, cattle are usually susceptible to new infections of lungworm but the highest challenge period is in late summer and autumn. Calves that are turned out onto pastures that were grazed by young animals the previous year are at higher risk of infection. Dairy-to-beef calves are at particularly high risk. Calves should be closely monitored for early signs of respiratory disease, such as coughing and if these develop, the whole group should be treated as soon as possible. This limits the severity of the disease and contamination of the pastures. A lungworm vaccine is available in Ireland and the vaccinations should be completed before turnout each year. If adult cattle with partial immunity to lungworm are exposed to a high challenge, for example pastures that were previously grazed by calves, they can develop severe coughing or milk drop (reinfection syndrome). This occurs because the immune system kills migrating larvae. Most of these animals will not have detectable lungworm larvae in the faeces. A diagnosis is then made on grazing history, clinical signs, and a blood test that measures the levels of a particular type of white blood cell (eosinophil). Liver fluke If cattle were treated at housing for liver fluke, it is usually not necessary to treat until later in the grazing season. Cattle which were not treated at housing may have adult parasites which can result in contamination of the pastures with liver fluke eggs. A flukicide that is effective against adult fluke should then be used before turnout to prevent this. First season grazers should not initially carry any liver fluke and should not need treatment until the autumn or housing. However, heavily contaminated pastures may expose animals earlier to liver fluke. Weather and farm history will influence this, and farmers should seek the advice of their veterinary practitioner.

Detailed information leaflets on Liver Fluke and Lungworm are available on the Animal Health Ireland website

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

FEATURE ARTICLE Vaccination Year Planner for spring calving suckler herds

Rebecca Carroll, Veterinary Inspector, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Introduction Vaccines can be a vital tool for controlling infectious diseases but it is important to remember that they are only one element of an overall herd health plan. It is important to put in place bioexclusion measures to prevent disease entering your herd and biocontainment measures to prevent disease spreading within your herd. Which diseases to vaccinate against? Prior to putting in place a vaccination protocol, it is important to assess your herd’s infectious disease status with the aid of your veterinary practitioner. This will involve looking at herd records and testing animals to see what diseases are present on your farm. Where available and considered appropriate, vaccines can then be used to minimize the impact of those diseases which are already present and those for which there is an unacceptable risk of introduction. Herd health plans and vaccination protocols should be reviewed with your veterinary practitioner on a regular basis. Storage and use of vaccines Vaccines should be stored appropriately, withmost requiring refrigeration. Vaccines should be made up in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. It is important to pay attention to hygiene when drawing up and giving vaccines. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and veterinary advice on the route of administration, size of the dose and timing of the primary vaccination and any subsequent boosters required.

Prior to putting in place a vaccination protocol, it is important to assess your herd’s infectious disease status with the aid of your veterinary practitioner. This will involve looking at herd records and testing animals to see what diseases are present on your farm. Where available and considered appropriate, vaccines can then be used to minimize the impact of those diseases which are already Present and those for which there is an unacceptable risk of introduction.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

VACCINATION YEAR PLANNER FOR SPRING CALVING SUCKLER HERDS

When vaccinating animals, stress should be avoided, particularly during pregnancy. It is important not to perform several stressful procedures (moving pens, transportation, dehorning, etc.) at the same time. Do not use vaccines in sick animals. As a rule of thumb, don’t give another vaccine two weeks either side of the date of vaccination, unless manufacturer’s guidelines state otherwise. Most vaccines are given to protect the animal that receive them, but some vaccines given during later pregnancy, e.g. scour vaccines, protect the calf through antibodies they receive through colostrum and milk. It is important to ensure the calf receives colostrum from the vaccinated cow within two hours of birth and continues to receive milk from a vaccinated cow for the first month of life to provide ongoing protection. Bought-in animals should be quarantined. Where possible, their vaccination status should be ascertained from the previous owner. Animals should be vaccinated with any vaccines used on the purchaser’s farm prior to introduction to the main herd. Animals should be quarantined until 2 weeks after the vaccination course(s) is complete. Always include the bull when vaccinating breeding animals. Non-breeding animals should be included in most vaccination programmes, both to protect themselves against the disease and to prevent circulation of the disease- causing agent in part of the herd. It may not be necessary or viable to include them in all programmes but this should be discussed with your vet. Generally non-breeding animals should be given vaccines at the same time as the rest of the herd. The table below lists vaccines that are commonly used in in different age groups in beef suckler herds and suggests times of year when these should be given. The final selection and timing of vaccines to be given in a particular herd should be done in discussion with the farmer’s veterinary practitioner. Note that for some vaccines two doses are required to complete the primary course. All vaccination courses should be completed in advance of recognised risk periods.

See the animal health Ireland website for leaflets from the Biosecurity Technical Working Group:

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

VACCINATION YEAR PLANNER FOR SPRING CALVING SUCKLER HERDS

February/March Prior to turnout

March/April

August/September

October Housing

December/January

Pneumonia vaccines: Vaccines may cover BRSV, PI-3V, BVDV and Mannheimia haemolytica IBR*

Clostridia vaccine (Blackleg and other clostridial diseases

Prior to turnout

Prior to breeding

Mid pregnancy

Housing

Prior to calving

IBR* BVD***

Leptospirosis BVD*** IBR*

Clostridia vaccine Lungworm

Scour vaccine Salmonella**

Pneumonia vaccines: Vaccines may cover BRSV, PI-3, BVDV and Mannheimia molytica

Salmonella**

Prior to turnout

Prior to breeding

Mid pregnancy

Housing

Prior to calving

Leptospirosis BVD*** IBR*

IBR* BVD***

Scour vaccine Salmonella**

Salmonella**

*There are various protocols for IBR vaccination. Discuss with your veterinary practitioner. Do NOT vaccinate potential A.I. sires for IBR. **All cattle vaccinated with the primary vaccination course of a Salmonella vaccine should receive a booster at least two weeks prior to each period of risk or at intervals of not more than 12 months thereafter. As part of an overall herd management programme, for pregnant cattle, it is advised that for each subsequent pregnancy, a booster should be given approximately 3-4 weeks before calving to provide a sufficient level of colostral protection for calves. The other risk for cows is abortion in late pregnancy and a booster in mid pregnancy may be considered. Discuss with your veterinary practitioner. ***Depending on the product, BVD boosters may be required every 6 months or annually.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

FEATURE ARTICLE First results from the National Contract Heifer Rearing Project

John Mee 1 and Marie-Claire McCarthy 1,2 and Luke O’Grady 2 1 Teagasc, Moorepark Research Centre; 2 University College Dublin

T eagasc have completed the first year of a four-year national research project on contract rearing (CR) in Ireland. This project is focusing on the animal health, productivity and fertility aspects of contract rearing. The research team are working with three groups of farmers; contract rearers (beef, dairy, other farmers) who rear the heifers, dairy farmers who send heifers for rearing, and dairy farmers who rear their own heifers at home. Contract rearing involves the movement of dairy replacement heifers from their source farm to another farm to be reared for a defined period and set fee. In the Teagasc National Farm Survey (2016), 5% of farmers identified themselves as involved in CR. With rapid expansion of Ireland’s dairy herd, the practice is expected to become much more widely adopted in the coming years. Currently, demand for heifer rearing services appears to be exceeding supply of contract rearers. By utilising existing farm infrastructure, CR presents the opportunity for rearers to increase farm profitability without major capital investment. Depending on the type of CR arrangement in place, rearers can benefit from regular monthly income resulting in improved cash flow. For dairy farmers sending heifers away for rearing, accelerated growth of the herd can be achieved by overcoming limitations presented by land and labour shortage on the milking platform. However, there are potential drawbacks. A major animal health issue with CR is the movement of animals between farms. Depending on the scale of the CR operation, heifers from multiple farms may be housed or grazed together. In addition, heifers may be mixed with existing stock on the farm of the contract rearer. This represents a potential risk for spread of disease. To date there is an absence of research on CR in Ireland nationally. With this in mind, in 2018 a consortium of national and international organisations (Teagasc, UCD, AHI, DAFM, ICBF and the University of Ghent) commenced a collaborative research project focused on animal health and CR. The study aims to: 1. Characterise the type of CR arrangements in Ireland, 2. establish the relationship between biosecurity practices on these farms and the health, fertility and productivity of heifers, 3. Compare the health, fertility and productivity of heifers that are contract-reared with those that are reared at home. The study will follow heifers from birth to first lactation by visiting each farm four times over the first three years of the project (in spring and autumn). The first visit in spring 2018 was to the heifer source farm before the heifers were moved to the contract rearer and also to control farms rearing their own heifers. The remaining visits are taking place on the farm of the contract rearer and the control dairy farms. The spring 2019 visits (third visit) are currently being conducted on farms around the country.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

FIRST RESULTS FROM THE NATIONAL CONTRACT HEIFER REARING PROJECT

Various performance parameters are beingmeasured over the course of the study including body weight, body condition score and health score (for diarrhoea, respiratory disease, navel infection/defects and other diseases). Samples (blood, faeces, nasal mucus) are also being collected from a cohort of

heifers at each visit. These will be used to assess the exposure of heifers to infectious diseases and parasite burdens. Additionally, bulk tank milk samples have been collected to establish the exposure to infections in the milking herd on the home dairy farms before the heifers were moved to the contract rearer. In order to interpret these animal and lab results, each farmer completed a biosecurity risk assessment questionnaire about the animal health measures they practice on their farm/s.

A total of 178 farms were recruited after using animal movement data records and a national public awareness campaign (involving Agriland, AHI, FRS, ICBF, IFJ, Macra Land Mobility Service and Veterinary Ireland) to identify suitable herds (Figure 1). These herds comprised 67 source dairy farms sending heifers to 58 contract rearers and 53 control herds rearing heifers at home. There are a total of approximately 6,800 heifers on the study. On average, source dairy farms have more heifers (67 heifer calves/herd) than control farms (43 heifer calves/herd). The most common CR arrangement is 1 source dairy farmer: 1 contract rearer (67%), followed by 2 source dairy farmers: 1 contract rearer (30%), (Figure 2). The majority (75%) of source dairy farmers send heifers to a contract rearer in the same county; almost half of source dairy farmers (48%) are located in county Cork. Figure 1: Location of source (purple), contract rearing (orange) and control (blue) farms nationally

1SDF:1CR Herd - 67% 2SDF:1CR Herd - 30% 3SDF:1CR Herd - 1.5% 4SDF:1CR Herd - 1.5%

Figure 2: Types of arrangements between the source dairy farm (SDF) and the contract rearer (CR).

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

FIRST RESULTS FROM THE NATIONAL CONTRACT HEIFER REARING PROJECT

The majority (53%) of source dairy farms intended to send their heifers out for rearing between 2 and 4 months of age, and the majority (56%) expected to bring them back between 18 and 21 months of age (Figure 3).

10 20 30 40 50 60

10 20 30 40 50 60

0

0

0-2

2-8

4-16

16-28

15-18

18-21

22-23

Age (in weeks) heifers move from SDF to CR

Age (in months) heifers return to SDF from CR

Figure 3: Age that heifers leave (left) and were expected to return to source dairy farms (right).

Preliminary examination of the health data across all groups indicates that at a herd-level, diarrhoea, enlarged navels and fever (>39.5 o C) were present in calves on the majority (>50%) of farms visited in spring. Much less prevalent was respiratory disease, other calf health issues and high fever (>40 o C). The same trends were detected at an animal-level, but at much lower prevalence (generally <10% of calves). Rotavirus was the most commonly detected enteric pathogen (~25%) in 212 scour samples. Conclusions to date Heifers being sent for CR are most likely to: • Originate from larger than average herds, • Be involved in CR arrangements between one source farm and one rearer, • Be sent for rearing between 2-4 months of age, to a contract rearer within the same county, • Return from the contract rearer at 18-21 months of age. The results of this studywill informnational and farm-level policy on animal movement regulations for collaborative

farming enterprises in future. Acknowledgements

We thank the farmers who are participating in the study and Jonathon Kenneally and Noel Byrne, Moorepark and Kieran McCarthy and David O’Donnell, Institute of Technology, Tralee. This research is funded by the Teagasc Walsh Fellowships scheme.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION

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