BHC Newsletter Autumn 2019 FINAL

AUTUMN 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 PROGRAMME UPDATE Dr Natascha Meunier | Page 2

PARASITE CONTROL AND DOSING STRATEGIES FOR THE BEEF HERD | Maresa Sheehan | Page 4

MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR SUCKLER CALVES AT WEANING TO PREVENT PNEUMONIA Dr Catherine McAloon | Page 9 PURCHASING CATTLE - THE BIOSECURITY RISKS | Bosco Cowley | Page 7

NATIONAL BEEF HEALTH PROGRAMME

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

AHI NEWS

Beef HealthCheck programme update

Dr Natascha Meunier, Beef HealthCheck Programme Manager

T he Beef HealthCheck programme has a passed a milestone this summer of more than 2 million animal records to date. The programme has been running since 2016 and previous results are available to farmers online at www.icbf.com. The online tool allows farmers to see a summary graph of their liver fluke information or a fluke graph which shows monthly trends, as well as batch reports and animal reports. Farmers can also share this information with their veterinary practitioner to discuss the results. More information on accessing this online tool can be found on the Animal Health Ireland website click here . Liver fluke There has been a decrease in liver fluke seen at the factories this year to date compared to the average in previous years. Figure 1 shows the trends for heifers and steers for this year compared to the results from the previous three years. Live liver fluke seen in these younger animals has decreased from an average of 2.8% to 1.2% and damage caused by liver fluke has decreased from an average of 15% to 8%. Any damage by liver fluke seen in cows and bulls, while also lower this year, is at an average of 29%. The lowered levels of liver fluke this year may be an effect of last year’s warm, dry summer.

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15%

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JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

Liver fluke damage, 2016-2018

Live liver fluke, 2016-2018

Liver fluke damage, 2019

Live liver fluke, 2019

Figure 1. BHC reported liver fluke percentages (live fluke and damage) for heifers and steers

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER | AUTUMN EDITION

BHC PROGRAMME UPDATE

Liver abscesses In previous years, there has been a increase in liver abscesses in the autumn season for heifers and steers reported by the Beef HealthCheck programme (Figure 2). There are many factors that can lead to liver abscesses in cattle although they are often associated with an inflammation of the rumen (stomach) from transitioning to a diet that is high in digestible carbohydrates. Liver abscesses can lead to reduced feed efficiency and decreased finished live weights but animals tend to be in good condition and will usually not show any clinical signs. If farmers are seeing a high percentage of animals with liver abscesses, it may be worth discussing prevention options with their veterinary practitioner or advisor.

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4%

2016-2018 2019

2%

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Figure 2. BHC reported liver abscess percentages for heifers and steers

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER | AUTUMN EDITION

FEATURE ARTICLE

Autumn parasite control and dosing strategies for the beef herd

Maresa Sheehan, Parsite Control Technical Working Group Member

As autumn arrives and as we have had a mild wet summer parasite burdens on pasture may be at a high level. Beef farmers need to gather information on parasites on their farm, decide on a parasite strategy, implement it, review it and change it if necessary.

GATHER INFORMATION: Look at your beef stock. Are animals coughing and is hoose suspected? Then cattle should be dosed. Weigh your animals, are they thriving, have they diarrhoea? If animals aren’t thriving or have diarrhoea, do you suspect parasites or is there a nutritional problem or another underlying health issue? Consult with your veterinary practitioner if unsure.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER | AUTUMN EDITION

AUTUMN PARASITE CONTROL AND DOSING STRATEGIES FOR THE BEEF HERD

TAKE FAECAL SAMPLES: this should be done as a routine measure on every beef farm. It is one of the most useful tools for controlling stomach/intestinal worms (gutworms) in cattle in a sustainable way. Dosing suckler calves and beef animals unnecessarily is common. The likelihood of spring-born suckler calves needing a dose in the first half of the summer is minimal. If they are thriving, not coughing and not loose in the dung, there is likely no need to dose. They have an advantage over their dairy calf cohorts in that they are drinking milk and co-grazing with their mothers, which reduces their exposure to gutworms. Appropriate dosing of these animals during their first grazing season will also ensure adequate exposure to gutworms which will help their immunity to gutworms in their second grazing season. Faecal samples will help decide the optimal time for dosing towards late Summer/Autumn. The requirement for older cattle to be dosed will be determined by faecal egg count numbers, their condition and if they are coughing.

The Animal Health Ireland Beef HealthCheck programme provides farmers with paper reports on liver and lung lesions from cattle slaughtered in many Irish meat factories. The liver lesions recorded here will give you an indication as to what your farm liver fluke status is. A step by step guide to show farmers how to view this information, what it means and how to share it with their veterinary practitioner is available on the AHI website: click here . You will also know if you have areas of your land that are “flukey” i.e. rushes grow and you have wet areas that are habitats for the mud snail, which is part of the life cycle of both the liver and rumen fluke.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER AUTUMN EDITION

AUTUMN PARASITE CONTROL AND DOSING STRATEGIES FOR THE BEEF HERD

DECIDE ON A STRATEGY: Ask your veterinary practitioner to help interpret faecal egg numbers. A rough guide is egg counts >700 eggs per gram (epg) are indicative of a high worm burden that requires treatment. More than 200 epg but less than 700 epg is suggestive of a moderate worm burden that necessitates close observation and retesting in 1-2 weeks to track increases. Note: poor thrive and diarrhoea due to Type II Ostertagiasis that occurs during winter and early spring may not result in significant egg counts. All egg counts must be interpreted in association with observation of the animal . An animal with poor thrive and scour with a low egg count may still need to be treated as very liquid faecal samples have a diluting effect leading to an artificially lowered egg count. Ensure your grazing is tailored to reduce worm burdens. Suckler calves after weaning should be turned out onto silage aftergrass or grazing that has not been grazed by young stock recently. IMPLEMENT: What product to use and how to use it? Use a product that you know is effective on your farm, i.e. no resistance suspected. If you suspect resistance ask your veterinary practitioner to carry out or advise you how to carry out a drench test. Make sure you use a product that is effective only against what you are treating. If you are not concerned about liver fluke do not use a combined fluke and worm dose. Regardless of the product you choose ensure you calibrate your dosing gun/injector, dose accurately according to the heaviest animal in the group (assuming same age and even bunch) and ensure correct dosing. REVIEW: Are your animals thriving, is there diarrhoea, are there signs of coughing? If you answer yes to thrive and no to the other questions, then your parasite control is likely working. Otherwise you need to ask for help and review your strategy. Parasite control at housing in late autumn/early winter is very important as cattle only pick up gutworms, lungworms and fluke when grazing. An effective treatment given at, or shortly after housing, should ensure that cattle are free of these parasites until they return to pasture the following year. With regard to gutworm control, it is important to select a wormer that has activity against the inhibited larval stages (Type II Ostertagiasis) as well as the adult worms. Some benzimidazoles (white drenches) and products containing macrocyclic lactones (clear drenches e.g. ivermectin, doramectin, moxidectin) are active against these inhibited larval stages whereas levamisole (yellow drench) is not. If this is not done, these larvae can resume development towards the end of the winter period, causing a potentially fatal disease. It is important that young cattle in particular are clear of lungworm and have healthy lungs over the winter period. Lungworm can increase their susceptibility to pneumonia after housing. Doses that treat gutworms will also be active against lungworm. Acceptable levels of liver fluke control may be achieved with a fluke treatment at housing on farms where the burden of liver fluke is low. However, if fluke burdens on grass are high, a further fluke treatment may need to be given 6-8 weeks after housing. An alternative approach is to take dung samples at this time and check for the presence of fluke eggs to see if this follow up treatment is necessary. Please take note of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s annual national liver fluke forecast released in early November which advises farmers of the predicted risk of disease caused by liver fluke infection in their livestock. Winter is also the most common time to see infestations with external parasites such as lice and mange mites and these should be considered when selecting parasitic treatments. Consult your veterinary practitioner in order to discuss the most appropriate parasite control for cattle in your herd at housing.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER | AUTUMN EDITION

FEATURE ARTICLE

Purchasing Cattle - the biosecurity risks

Bosco Cowley, Biosecurity Technical Working Group Member

O ne of the greatest challenges to successful farming is avoiding disease. Anything that risks the health of production animals compromises financial return and the welfare of the animals involved. Keeping a closed herd by never buying in, borrowing or renting any outside cattle, is one of the best ways to keep diseases out of your farm and is strongly recommended. Biosecurity is a term used in disease control which encompasses both bioexclusion (keeping infectious diseases out of farms) and biocontainment (reducing infectious disease threats within the holding). Purchasing cattle is the riskiest practice a farmer will carry out, from a biosecurity point of view. In this short review we will look at seven specific strategies for purchasing animals to minimise this risk. Carefully think through whether you need to introduce animals at all or is there an alternative. If you have a choice, it is best practice to avoid purchasing. If introducing animals, plan to do so as few times as possible. STEP ONE - PLAN AHEAD Introducing higher numbers brings greater risk of disease introduction. Consider also the status of the animal e.g. pregnant cattle really involve the introduction of two animals –the disease status of the dam and the calf when born can be different. STEP TWO - BUY IN AS FEW ANIMALS AS POSSIBLE It is best practice to develop knowledge of the health status of an individual herd or those of a small group of farmers from which you can buy. STEP THREE - PURCHASE FROM AS FEW HERDS AS POSSIBLE From step three above, it may be possible to identify herds that have good disease control practices on farm. These should then be the preferred herds from which to purchase. STEP FOUR - SELECT AND PURCHASE ANIMALS FROM LOWER RISK HERDS

STEP FIVE - PURCHASE LOWER RISK ANIMALS

These might include younger animals (as they may not yet have been infected) or non-pregnant animals. Clinically healthy animals should also be selected as ill animals carry a higher risk of transmission of disease.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER | AUTUMN EDITION

PURCHASING CATTLE, THE BIOSECURITY RISKS

This might involve shortening the transport distance by sourcing from herds in proximity to your own herd and using your own transport equipment. You can then ensure the equipment is clean and disinfected and also you are aware of the status of animals that have been transported in them in recent times. STEP SIX - REDUCE TRANSPORT RELATED RISKS

STEP SEVEN - IMPLEMENT A QUARANTINE

A quarantine should be implemented for animals immediately after they enter your herd. Quarantined animals should be in complete isolation from the rest of the herd (no nose-to-nose contact), and should not share the same airspace. Animals should be quarantined for at least four weeks. During this period you should: a) Monitor for any clinical signs of disease and investigate as appropriate b) Vaccinate and dose animals to ensure they have received the same protective treatments as your own animals have previously received c) Test for specific diseases to reduce the risk of accidental introduction of these diseases. Slurry from the quarantine area should not be spread on grazing ground until the quarantine period has been successfully completed. Animals in quarantine should be batched by farm of origin and no overlap that could result in new infection during the quarantine period should be permitted…an “all-in-all-out” policy should be adhered to. Access should be restricted and no sharing of utensils or stock-people with your own herd without rigorous cleaning and disinfection.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER | AUTUMN EDITION

FEATURE ARTICLE Management practices for suckler calves at weaning to prevent pneumonia Causes of weanling pneumonia Weanling pneumonia is a classic multi-factorial disease, and it is often a combination of infectious agents with inappropriate management and husbandry factors that causes outbreaks of the disease. In fact, healthy cows and calves may carry some of the pneumonia-causing pathogens without showing any clinical signs of disease. Common infectious agents causing weanling pneumonia are viruses including Bovine Herpesvirus 1 (the virus that causes IBR), Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus (BRSV), and Parainfluenza Virus 3 (PIV-3), and bacteria (Mannheimia haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida, Histophilus somni, Mycoplasma bovis). Calves with damaged lungs from previous or current lungworm infestation also have a higher risk of developing pneumonia. Unfavourable environmental conditions and stress can lead to viral infection of the lungs which is then followed by bacterial infection. Bacterial infection causes the main damage to the lungs which can be irreversible and lead to ill-thrift or death if treatment is too late or not continued for long enough. Non-specific stress factors can contribute to compromising of the immune system and respiratory defences, predisposing to pneumonia. Why is weaning stressful for the calf? Weaning breaks the maternal-offspring bond and removes milk from the calf’s diet. In a natural environment the cow would initiate weaning gradually by refusing the calf access to suckle at a later time than that which is generally practised by suckler farmers. Weaning stress has an adverse effect on the immune system, making calves more susceptible to disease, particularly pneumonia. Therefore, it is essential for the health and performance of the calves to minimise stress around weaning by using proper weaning procedures. In addition to the stressful process of weaning for the calf, this time often co-incides with other stressful events in its life such as transport and co-mingling.

Dr Catherine McAloon, Chairman, CalfCare Technical Working Group

Weaning stress has an adverse effect on the immune system, making calves more susceptible to disease, particularly pneumonia. Therefore, it is essential for the health and performance of the calves to minimise stress around weaning by using proper weaning procedures.

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER | AUTUMN EDITION

MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR SUCKLER CALVES AT WEANING

To minimise stress for the suckler calf in autumn: • Concentrates should be introduced at least 4-6 weeks prior to weaning, and calves should be eating at least 1kg of concentrates per day at weaning. Concentrate supplementation should continue for at least 2 weeks after weaning. • Calves should be housed 3 weeks after weaning and ideally in good weather conditions. • If dehorning and castration have not been carried out at weaning stage it should be avoided for at least four weeks prior to or after weaning. • In larger herds calves should be weaned gradually by removing a small number of cows from the herd every five days. • Housing should be clean, dry and well ventilated with sufficient feed and water trough space. Poor ventilation and overcrowding are major risk factors for pneumonia once the calves are housed. • Clean, fresh water is essential to prevent dehydration which will increase the risk of pneumonia. • Minimise stressful handling around weaning. • Seek the advice of your vet about potential vaccination programmes for weanlings suitable to your farm. Management of calves with pneumonia Although difficult, early diagnosis is crucial to maximise the chance of success of treatment. Frequent monitoring is required post-weaning and post-housing to ensure cases are identified early if they occur. If treatment is started early there is a good chance that calves will recover completely. Early signs of disease are dullness, increased respiratory rate, discharge from eyes and nose and fever (over 39.5°C). If calves show pussy nasal discharge and severe respiratory distress the disease may well be advanced, and it is possible that the damage to the lungs cannot be reversed. Those calves, if they survive, will probably be stunted and may never perform to expectations. Treatment Preventing pneumonia by managing animals correctly is preferable to treating outbreaks. Antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections. However, where bacterial involvement is suspected, antibiotic treatment is required. Anti- inflammatory drugs can also be useful. Veterinary advice should be sought for recommendations on treatment protocols. No matter which antibiotic is used, the most important factor for treatment success is to start treatment very early in the course of the disease and to treat long enough (at least for another two days after the signs of disease have disappeared). For further information please refer to the AHI Leaflet: 'Management of the suckler calf at weaning to prevent pneumonia' click here .

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BEEF HEALTHCHECK NEWSLETTER | AUTUMN EDITION

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