Rain continues to wreak havoc on many farms around the country in relation to turnout and getting some field work completed. There have been a few dry days this week, and some farmers have ventured out with light weanlings.

Grass supplies actually aren’t bad on some farms, but it’s the underfoot conditions that are very difficult to manage. Some parts of the country are forecasted to receive very high levels of rainfall later this week, which will delay turnout for another 7-10 days in a best-case scenario.

Some autumn calving herds have begun to dry off cows and wean calves. Cows are being kept inside on hay, with weanlings being turned out. This is reducing feed costs where calves were on meal in creep areas.

The weanling trade is still performing very strongly, so if you had calves that are over 300kg it could be a real option to relieve some stress on tanks, fodder, bedding and cash. In spring calving herds it’s important to keep creep areas and calving pens well bedded and clean.

It’s been a long, tough spring with the risk of scour and pneumonia is at its highest when shed space is under pressure. Make sure cows with spring born calves are getting good silage and meal, as losing body condition could be detrimental to them going back in calf quickly in a few months’ time.

Calf Scour

Difficult weather conditions have meant turnout has been delayed in many parts of the country. This has the knock-on effect of space being at a premium, and has led to outbreaks of scour on some farms over the last few days. Make sure young calves have a clean, dry bed to lie on for the first few days.

Try and clean out calving pens on a regular basis. Disease will build up in calving pens as calving progresses, and this is when problems will arise. Plenty of fluids are very important for the scouring calf.

A scouring calf will require at least eight litres of fluids in 24 hours. Stomach tubing two litres in the morning and another two litres in the evening won’t be enough.

Oral rehydration products can vary widely. Some vets say that the best rehydration therapy will contain electrolytes (sodium/potassium), an energy source (glucose/glutamine) and products to correct metabolic acidosis (e.g. bicarbonate).

It may not be obvious if there isn’t enough of each ingredient, so if in doubt consult your vet to get advice on what product to use. The current advice is to leave calves on the cow, i.e. on milk during any treatment.

The use of calf jackets for sick, weak calves seems to work well on some farms and can speed up the recovery process.

Elphin mart Seminar

There continues to be a lot of interest in organic farming, and Roscommon has one of the biggest uptakes of new entrants into organic farming in the last few years. Elphin mart is running a seminar on Thursday evening, 4 April.

The event kicks off at 8pm and will have speakers from Teagasc, Irish Organic Association and Emlagh Lodge Vet Clinic. Anybody interested in organic farming should come along to brief themselves on exactly what is involved before any decisions are made for their farm.