March is a crucial month for animal health. So much is happening in spring with calving and lambing, turnout to grass, changing diets and unpredictable weather all having an impact on animal health.

Adverse health in spring will have knock-on effects on performance for the rest of the year, so it is really important that all stock are maintained in good health this spring.

Dealing with sick calves can be a tortuous experience – eating up time and sapping the farmer, never mind the calves of vital energy.

Disease prevention in calves is all about immunity and that comes from two sources.

Firstly, the amount of colostrum the calf receives at birth and, secondly, the nutrition and the environment that the calf is in. Poor feeding and poor housing will lower the calf’s immunity and make it more exposed to disease such as scour or pneumonia.

Adam Woods takes a look at keeping suckler calves healthy in their first few weeks of life.

With so much riding on the health and subsequent performance of that calf, Adam says that all work should be geared towards making sure the calf has the best start in life that’s possible. That involves ensuring the calf gets enough colostrum, that the cow has enough milk and that the straw lieback area is well-bedded and cleaned out regularly.

Darren Carty reports from the recent Teagasc hill sheep conference where AFBI’s Jason Barley detailed the important components to include in a robust flock health plan.

A good health plan encapsulates the day-to-day health risks but also looks at the broader risks that may not be readily apparent. Jason says a health plan should also be fluid and be continually updated to protect your flock and herd to the latest risks.