Seven CalfCare events designed to answer all concerns

Animal Health Ireland and Teagasc, in conjunction with Glanbia, Kerry Agri Business and Aurivo and supported by Volac, will deliver seven CalfCare events in January.

These very timely events will focus on five key areas — colostrum management, calf nutrition, managing the scouring calf, calf performance (weaning to mating), biosecurity and managing Johne’s Disease at calving.

Colostrum Management

When born, the calf’s immune system is not fully developed, and the calf depends on the immunity provided by the antibodies contained in colostrum for protection against disease.

The level of antibodies is at its highest in the first milking, and can drop by half at the second milking. Antibodies are absorbed whole through the calf’s intestinal wall for only a few hours after birth. Therefore, it is vital that all newborn calves receive colostrum shortly after birth.

Speakers from Teagasc and the Animal Health Ireland Technical Working Group will outline how to maximise the effective use of colostrum in disease prevention.

Biosecurity and managing Johne’s Disease

What are the most important disease threats to your stock from outside your farm? This question will be answered as part of a discussion on how biosecurity and good farming practices at calving can prevent the spread of Johne’s Disease on the farm

Members of the AHI Technical Working Group will be present to give a summary of the disease risk to your stock and explain the key measures that can be taken at calving to protect newborn calves from becoming infected with Johne’s Disease.

Calf Nutrition

Calf feeding recommendations have changed a lot in the last couple of years. The old rule of thumb was to feed two litres of milk (or milk replacer) twice daily.

The modern guideline is to feed 13%-15% of calf birthweight. That’s up to 750g of solids — approximately six litres of whole milk or high quality milk replacer. Calves can be fed once daily from four weeks of age, but should be fed twice daily until that age.

Information on feeding rates and discussion on calf nutrition will be given by representatives from Teagasc and Volac at the Open Day.

Managing the Scouring Calf

A scouring calf can lose up to four litres of additional fluids per day, leading to dehydration, if not addressed. The first step is to remove the scouring calf from the group to prevent or reduce calf-to-calf infection.

Rehydration should be with an appropriate electrolyte solution.

Once the calf continues to drink, it should be fed its normal milk or replacer (in addition to rehydration fluids). The milk will not make the scour worse but provides much needed energy.

Speakers from the Animal Health Ireland CalfCare Technical Working Group will explain the reasoning for continuing to feed milk to a scouring calf.

Calf Performance, Weaning to Mating

A number of key milestones need to be achieved in the lifetime of the replacement heifers. At 6, 15 and pre-calving at 24 months of age, the heifer should weigh 30%, 60% and 90% of the mature cow weight.

Research at Teagasc Moorepark shows that, if these targets are not achieved, the fertility and milk production potential of the heifers will not be achieved.

Teagasc specialists, together with the host farmer, will summarise and discuss the importance of reaching key target weights at critical times during the life of the calf up to mating.

Dates and Farm Venues

The seven Calfcare events run from 11am to 1pm, with attendances split into groups and the last group presentation starting at 12 noon.

* January 16, Nigel Bailey, Clough, Gorey, Co Wexford

* January 20, O’Keeffe Family Farm, Churchclara, Kilkenny

* January 21, Tintur Dairy Farm, Cappoquin Estate, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford

* January 22, Tommy Cahill, Tullore, Ballyroan, Portlaoise, Co. Laois.

* January 26, William Dennehy, Currow, Kilarney, Co Kerry

* January 28, Martin Gilvarry, Killala, Co Mayo

* January 29, Richard Gregg, Convoy, Co Donegal


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