Keep an eye out for coccidiosis infection in calves. Wet weather has meant there is an increased risk indoors where bedding material is scarce, and it will also be a risk if cows and calves are outdoors, feeding around dirty troughs. It usually presents itself with a black/mucus scour. Infected calves will often appear to be pressing or straining. It can occur in calves from three weeks to about nine months of age and infected calves can excrete large amounts of oocytes. These infected calves then infect other calves in the group very quickly. Changes in weather, stress or other disease burdens can all affect how hard the disease hits calves. In terms of treatment, there are oral doses on the market, with the dose rate based on the weight of calves. Sulfadimidine powders are also sometimes prescribed to aid in the treatment process. Sick calves can become dehydrated quite quickly, so fluids may need to be given to very sick calves. If you have to treat some calves in a group, you are probably better to treat the entire group, as their risk of infection will be a lot higher. Hygiene is extremely important in the prevention of the disease. Disinfected pens and plenty of clean bedding are crucial. Take care not to crowd sheds too much and also keep an eye around troughs where there is a higher chance of infection being harboured.


Heifers that were given their first shot of BVD and Lepto vaccine four weeks ago, should be receiving their second shot this week. Don’t forget to include stock bulls and vasectomised bulls on the farm. Young calves that received their first clostridial vaccine four to six weeks ago should also be getting their second shot for clostridial disease. Giving one shot for clostridial disease is a false economy, as you won’t be covered for the full grazing season. Yearlings being turned out should then get a booster shot at turnout if they got two shots last year. A number of cases of black leg have cropped up in the last two weeks, where weanlings have been turned out to paddocks around sheds. Poaching and increased soil exposure have meant the clostridial bacteria in the soil is more exposed and in turn cattle are more prone to succumbing to the disease.


Pneumonia outbreaks have also raised their head in the last seven to 10 days. Sheds are under big pressure, particularly on suckler farms. Delayed turnout has meant that stocking rates in sheds are too high in some cases and this is putting pressure on stock and ventilation. If ventilation is an issue, try to leave as many doors of sheds open as possible to increase air flow and take out stale air. Try to keep calf creep areas as well bedded as you can. If a calf is lying on wet straw, it will be more prone to sickness. Make sure all your pneumonia vaccines are up to date if you have had issues in the past with pneumonia. It’s easy to forget the routine tasks on farms when there is so much other work going on in yards at the moment. Make sure to herd twice daily and take a walk through creep areas for a closer examination of calves in the coming days.