As we race into the New Year, scour vaccines can be a very effective choice
Paul Redmond, MVB, MRCVS, Cert DHH, Duntahane Veterinary Clinic, Fermoy, member practice of Prime Health Vets
Last Sunday, as I was heading out to the point-to-point races for a day, as one of the veterinary surgeons on duty, the weather was rather inclement.
I never saw such rain falling, and I was filled with trepidation as to what might lie before me.
The racecourse was in surprisingly good order, and I remarked on this to the owner of the land, when I bumped into him during the course of the day.
He was delighted to inform me of the special variety of grass that he had introduced to his land.
He told me that it was a New Zealand species that produced a great sod, and therefore was ideal for the job in hand.
In between races, I took the opportunity to chat to a lot of clients and other acquaintances, some of whom I am sure just kept chatting because of the umbrella that I was holding over us.
One of these was a lad who told me that he had all his cows dry and was going to enjoy the time off to relax as best he could.
He told me that, in recent years, he had started running, and found it to be a great way to unwind and forget about the normal humdrum of life. As he talked, he got quite animated about his running, and I quite enjoyed chatting to him.
The day brightened considerably after the first few races ,and towards the end, the sun, low in the sky, was causing problems for the jockeys, and a few of the fences had to be excluded from proceedings for health and safety reasons. With the last race completed, I headed for the exit, but had to be pulled through the quagmire by another of my clients on his tractor, to whom I am eternally grateful. It was great to see fellas relaxed at the end of a long and sometimes arduous year. The weather came to us in 2018 in a way that we never expected, with never-ending rain in the spring followed by an exceptionally long dry spell, that tried the best of farmers, but by and large most ended up the year happy enough with their lot. So what of the coming year? What do you think we can expect?
No one knows, but there are certain things that can be done on the farm in the meantime to help make life a small bit easier in 2019. Definitely, those who have had problems with Rotavirus in the past, or possibly Coronavirus or E Coli scour, should be vaccinating their cows and in-calf heifers pretty soon for these diseases.
There are a number of different vaccines available for this job, but you must give them in plenty of time to build up the required immunity before the calving date. Talk to your vet to find out which vaccine might suit your particular farm setup. There is no doubt that these vaccines are very effective in curbing the heartache and damage caused by these infections.
For these vaccines to work properly, the manufacturers recommend feeding colostrum and transition milk to calves for the first three weeks of life.
This flies in the face of all the recommendations of the Johnes Disease programme, so you really have to talk to your vet about any issues you might have there. Pasteurisation of this transition milk may be one option, but then, there is the cost of getting one of these pasteurisers, and also the labour of using it.
But “you gotta do what you gotta do”, or so they say. I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a successful 2019.