Pneumonia issues:

I’ve had a number of reports this week of pneumonia in calves and weanlings in sheds. Recent mild weather has meant that sheds with poor ventilation have struggled to get enough air movement and this had led to health problems. Stress is a big factor, so make sure animals aren’t under any nutritional or parasite strain. Remember, in the face of an outbreak, don’t stress calves too much and seek veterinary advice. While vaccinating calves intra-nasaly can work quicker and give faster cover, vaccinating in the middle of an outbreak of pneumonia when animals have high temperatures and are actively shedding the virus will hinder the vaccination working correctly. If dosing, weaning or castrating is planned, wait until all calves are fully clear of pneumonia – as stress could lead to a relapse. Check your ventilation and see if some temporary measures like taking off a few side sheets could get you through this winter. Make sure calves have a clean, dry bed at all times and take care not to stock sheds too heavily. Straw costs have increased in the last 12 months and with that there is a higher risk that it will be used sparingly. Make sure that you don’t skimp in creep areas. Cold, wet calves are a recipe for outbreaks.


If stock bulls are neglected during the winter period, this can have a negative impact on a bull’s fertility and functionality. Take care where bulls are housed on straw-bedded pens with no access to concrete areas, as feet can become overgrown and tender. It’s also important that the bull does not lose too much condition over the winter months. It’s important that they are fit and not fat either. In most cases, ad-lib access to good-quality silage plus 3-4kg of a balanced ration is adequate. Avoid feeding rolled barley on its own, as this could increase the incidence of feet problems. Make sure the bull receives all doses and vaccinations that the herd gets, if outwintered or housed separately, they can often be forgot about.


Cashflow is extremely important to the smooth running of a business and cashflow management can sometimes make or break a farm business. Many drystock farmers will have received cashflow injections over the past few weeks, with a number of payments issuing from the Department of Agriculture. Others, including ACRES participants, could see some of these payments being delayed, with a 2024 payment now likely. This could present cashflow difficulties on some farms. The bigger problem is on many drystock farms these payments will be the only injection until cattle sales start again and on some farms this could be as late as autumn 2024. Managing this cash is critical. Sit down and see where the cash is needed and draw up a monthly cashflow budget for the farm. If there is a deficit, what will happen? Look at the possibility of taking out an overdraft or delaying investment if things look too tight. Having a cashflow plan is essential if you are going to the bank for funds in the form of overdrafts or term loans. Planning ahead and being organised will also be a positive.