Healthy routines for weanling purchasers
Weanling sales have started all over the country. Whether you are a seller or buyer, aim to be handling healthy stock. Check out weanling sales prior to selling day, know in your mind what is the market value of your weanling. Arrive early. Most regular buyers know farmers who produce quality weanlings. Let it be known you have quality, weaned stock for sale. Calves weaned weeks before sale should be housed on straw the night before sale and, if possible, have access to hay.
T ranspor t weanlings to sales in a clean, dry, spacious, well- bedded, well- ventilated trailer or truck.
Avoid selling stock that are too light, coughing or have wet snouts. Weanlings are best sold individually. If selling in pairs, they should be perfectly matched by sex, breed, weight, age and colour.
Mar ts are a high- stress environment for weanlings. Management, organisation and good stockmanship are all required to reduce the risk of respiratory infection d eve l o p i n g i n p u r c h a s e d weanlings.
Reduce infection risks
Prevention is better than cure. With this in mind, suggested best practice will involve the following. Weanlings should spend the shortest possible time at the mart.
A rapid, well- org anised system of removal from the mart premises reduces stress and the opportunities to pick up respiratory infections. Buyers need to get to the mart early and observe stock at the intake point. Here, many buyers will know the farmers and their reputation to turn out healthy stock.
Avoid animals that are very nervous, stressed and scouring, or that have nasal or eye discharges.
If possible, transport weanlings home in a well-ventilated, clean, straw bedded truck or trailer. Try to keep purchase batches separate for about two weeks, so that infections that are picked up can be confined to small groups.
Most purchased weanlings will arrive on farms late in the afternoon or at night. Don’t let them out to grass right away. Letting out weanlings that are excited and have maybe sweated excessively increases the pneumonia risk. Instead, put them into a wellbedded and ventilated shed, free from draughts. Provide them with fresh drinking water, and a small amount of meal and good hay or silage. Introducing meal will allow you assess if they have been fed meal before weaning. This should be continued at grass, at low rates to maintain growth. Give animals plenty of lying space, avoid housing them on slats. Weanlings normally need to be housed overnight and the next day. After a day or two, they can be released outdoors. When weather conditions allow, try to get weanlings out in the morning to a small, sheltered, well- fenced field with good quality grass. Small fields are best to keep them close and help herd bonding. Don’t turn them out if conditions are wet and cold, or in muggy weather. Wait for a dry, fine day.
Check newly purchased weanlings two or three times daily to detect signs of illness. If an animal shows signs of illness, check the body temperature with a thermometer. The normal temperature is 38C, with a variation of 1-2 C. Get immediate veterinary assistance if an animal has a raised temperature; pneumonia can spread rapidly in weanlings. Isolate that animal straight away.
For purchased weanlings of unknown origin, consult your vet for a recommendation as to the most appropriate dosing product, in order to minimise any potential pneumonia risk. When you think there is no worm problem, dosing can be left until two or three weeks prior to housing. Use an avermectin-based product. These products provide residual cover for three to six weeks. This will ensure the animal’s lungs are in a healthy condition prior to the high- stress housing period. If buying in large numbers of weanlings, devise a health protocol or veterinary plan with your vet to cover vaccination for blackleg, pneumonia, etc.