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).
BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION
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