Helen’s Farming week: Focusing on Prevention Rather Than Cure

Patrick Bolger

| Cattle & Dairy

| Mar 16, 2017

Helen farmer in shed with calves

Calving is in full swing at the minute with 22 cows calved and a Nitrates inspection in the middle of the hustle and bustle!

Helen Mulqueen with this years calves

For once, calving is going quite well. So far, there has been very little trouble with cows or heifers calving so fingers crossed it will stay like that.

Even though, for the 22 cows that have calved we have had three calves that came backwards, it is only a small percentage if that is all we get until the end of calving, but it would be a lot if it continued this way.

Trying to keep the Vet bill down

This time of the year vets bills gets crazy, so this spring we are hoping to nail it on time, working towards a ‘Prevention’ rather than a ‘Cure’ system. It is a costly system at the time, but not as costly as vets bills when trying to cure an animal – between time, vet call outs and bottles of injections and doses, it really adds up.

Prevention is better than Cure

Our herd has previously suffered from IBR and Coccidiosis, along with that we had a


Calves ready for vaccination
The 2017 Calves ready for vaccination

scare of Crypto last spring. To keep this under control the cows are given an IBR booster vaccine every year and once each calf is 18 days old, they are vaccinated for IBR.

This is where we find Herdwatch handy, once we have up to five calves around 18 days old, they can be checked from the app in the yard and I set a notification for the repeat vaccination for three weeks time.

They are vaccinated for all four diseases on the same day as the repeat IBR vaccination. They get Vecoxan to prevent against Coccidiosis, Baycox to prevent against Cryptosporidium and Bovipast RSP to prevent against Pneumonia.

It is crucial to give the repeat vaccination exactly on time otherwise it does not work as effectively. This will show up on my ‘to do list’ in Herdwatch. I think this is a godsend, “killing two birds with the one stone” as the saying goes. The repeat treatment is recorded and it is recorded for Bord Bia too.

Learn About How Herdwatch Can Help You Manage Your Vaccination Plan

Better Cow Management

We are trying to work harder on looking after the cow before calving, making sure we provide them good quality silage and pre-calver buckets every few days.

I used to use the bag of minerals but found that all of the cows were not getting the same quantity, so leaving in a few buckets is much more effective.

Managing the Workload

As it is such a busy time of the year, along with maintaining the scraping of the cubicles and liming them twice daily to prevent mastitis, we need to keep paperwork up-to-date and use everything we can to keep the workload to a minimum.

Not being on the farm throughout the day and trying to manage the paperwork, I find that the app is a very easy way to catch up on any treatments that have been done each day, any feed purchased or any cows that were served. It helps that I do not have to face into paperwork at night, it is the last thing anyone wants to do!

A Surprise Nitrates inspection

Last week, we received notification that we were having a nitrates inspection the following day. This is our third inspection since 2011. It can be very hard to make all improvements within a short space of time, but thankfully this time we got the thumbs up.

Managing the day to day work

Helen scraping the yard with the New Holland
Helen getting ready the scrape the yard

In the last few weeks, we emptied out some of the dung that was in the dung stead. For the past year, we have tried to do as much work as possible ourselves by renting out machinery instead of getting a contractor in. In the long-run, it can work out a lot more cost effective, so we hired out a dung spreader from Hire-Agri, in Rathcabbin.

At the minute, we are getting the fertilizer out and getting any bit of fencing fixed up before we let out a few yearlings.

So all busy, but that’s the way it is.

The first set of twins
The first set of 2017 twins

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