BHC Newsletter Spring FINAL

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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