The LacPatrick Farm Advisory team held a hugely successful calf health and management event in Monaghan on Thursday 1 February. The event was hosted by LacPatrick supplier Dermot Sherry who is in the middle of calving.
In the region of 100 farmers attended the event which included speakers from Corby Rock, Bonanza Calf Nutrition, Oriel veterinary clinic and Zoetis Ireland. In addition to the industry speakers, LacPatrick Farm Advisory team members Dr Paul Crosson and Majella McCafferty and Niamh McCann from the Veterinary Nursing Department in Dundalk IT spoke at the event.
Dermot started calving on 26 December and between then and the middle of May, he will calve down 130 cows. He is currently milking 90 cows, a mix of fresh calvers and those in late lactations.
The Sherry farm was an ideal location for the calf health and management event for two reasons.
Firstly, Dermot sets the highest possible standards for all aspects of calf health. Calves are removed from the cow straight after calving and put in a clean pen.
They are fed five litres of colostrum before being moved on to whole milk. After three weeks of being fed twice a day, Dermot moves the calves to a once-a-day feeding system. The calves are then weaned at eight weeks of age.
Secondly, Dermot has recently completed work on a new state-of-the-art calf shed. The impressive unit was finished in November and ready in time for the new calving season. Dermot said the new infrastructure is crucial to his overall calf health. He said his older set up had serious draft issues which resulted in calves not thriving. The new shed has place for 100 calves and is divided into individual units for freshly calved animals as well as pens for groups of older calves.
Majella McCafferty paid tribute to Dermot Sherry for hosting the event and as well as all those who attended on the day.
“We would like to thank all those who attended the calf health and management event. It was a very informative and interesting day especially for those who are in the throes of calving. Getting calf health and management right is crucially important for all farms so the event was very timely.”
Take away messages from the calf health and management event:
- Prevention is better than the cure – vaccinate where possible.
- Colostrum is liquid gold.
- Follow the 3-2-1 rule of colostrum. Make sure the new born calf gets 3 litres of colostrum, in the first two hours of life from the cow’s first milking.
- Be strict on biosecurity. Make sure to have footbaths at each entry point to the shed and have isolation points for sick animals.
- Get ventilation right. A drafty shed will affect calf health and can halt the thrive.
- Remain focussed on health and safety at all times. In particular, be vigilant around freshly calved cows.