Animal diseases on rise following poor Irish summer weather

Lasting effects of the 2012 weather include 97% condemnation of livers from adult cattle, and worm counts in sheep faecal results at 4,500 to 10,000 eggs per gram (1,000 eggs is enough to cause symptoms of infestation).

Other problems anticipated by Aidan Foley, veterinary consultant to the Osmonds animal health company, include increased incidence of Strep uberis mastitis in dairy herds, and raised somatic cell counts.

On the company’s stand at the Ploughing, he said rumen fluke increased in 2012, and is showing up in half of the sheep being slaughtered.

He warned that heavy 2012 rain has leached minerals out of the soil, further endangering the health of livestock for which nutrition may have been substandard during the summer.

Deficiencies of minerals such as copper, selenium, and iodine (important for healthy calves) could result. Quality of colostrum could be affected, leading to longer-term problems in new calves.

Starting mineral supplementation earlier is recommended. He advised dosing now and again at housing, and seven or eight weeks later in dairy cows (because doses for dairy cows are active against adult fluke only).

Lameness problems are widespread, and hoose pneumonia is showing in calves, said Mr Foley.

* Additional protein supplementation for dairy cows was recommended at the Ploughing by Martin Kavanagh, animal health consultant to the Keenan feed mixer wagon group. He said analysis is showing low protein content in silage, some under 10%, requiring protein ingredients of reasonable quality to be added to the diet.

Silage quality is down overall, with DMDs in the low 60s mostly, with very few exceeding 70. As a result of this — and low intakes if silage is badly preserved — extra feed to raise the diet energy content is needed. He also recommended feeding high quality mineral supplements.

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