THINK ABOUT JOHNE’S CONTROL FOR CALVES
at calving time.
The over-conditioned cow has both an increased risk of calving difficulty and metabolic disease such as ketosis and fatty liver.
It is essential that the calf gets colostrums within the first two hours of life. The quality and quantity of the colostrum produced by the cow will be l argely determined by transition management.
Cows which are stressed before calving because of diets, housing environment or metabolic disease will produce poorer quality colostrum. For this reason, it is essential to have a stock of frozen colostrum available.
The tradition of group feeding colostrum should be avoided due to the risk this poses in terms of spreading Johne’s disease. Current tests for the detection of Johne’s require animals to be four years of age for a high reliability of positive cases.
Johne’s will depress immune systems to the point where there is progressive weight loss, diarrhoea and impaired reproductive performance.
Faeces is another source of di s ease t ransmission. It is essential that calving boxes are kept clean so that calves do not have access to contaminated bedding and feedstuffs.
This will require extra diligence as the calving season proceeds and management practices slip.
Why is there such an emphasis on Johne’s management when it seems to be such an elusive organism? Studies have linked the mycobacterium avian paratubercolosis that causes Johne’s to the polyps of humans with Crohn’s disease.
In the future, it is likely that disease management protocols will have to be in place to satisfy marketing requirements.
A number of our clients in the north of Ireland have introduced pasteurisation of colostrum to minimise the risk of Johne’s disease transmission.
It is in the interest of your business to have a Johne’s management strategy as the disease can be spread easily, will reduce herd longevity and increases herd health management costs.
Australia implemented a Johne’s management strategy approximately 15 years ago. Despite this, they have failed to eradicate the disease and have concluded that disease tolerances will have to be accepted for most herds.
Getting s uff i c i ent immunoglobulins into your calves will protect them from the stresses that can result in pneumonia, coccidiosis or cryptosporidium.
As the number of calves increase in the house, it is essential that ventilation is adjusted for cold and warm days and varying wind speeds. Coccidio- sis and cryptosporidium result in severe setbacks, with significant calf mortality. Calves may recover following treatment for pneumonia and various calf scours.
However, these events may have adverse epigenetic effects on the animal's fertility later in life. There is data that now shows the impact of illness early in life on the onset of reproductive cycles and fertility when the heifers are 13-16 months of age. Physically, these heifers will not be different to their fertile counterparts.
Finally, I would encourage all dairy farmers and their families that take pride in what they do to enter the Zurich Farming Independent awards. There's a separate category for each sector, including dairying, and the application form should only take about 10 minutes to complete.
It's nice to see competitions that recognise the huge effort that goes into farming and hopefully this is just the first year of what will become an annual fixture in the farming calendar. Who knows, you might even win €2,500 in cash, which would surely be a welcome boost to any household budget.