Coccidiosis: Coccidiosis generally occurs in calves from about three weeks of age and is commonly associated with profuse watery brown/green diarrhoea, frequently containing blood. It has become a problem on some farms this year with prolonged housing of three- to six-week-old calves.
In severe cases, affected calves show continuous signs of straining to pass faeces, with a raised tail. These calves can sometimes pass mucus or gut lining along with faeces.
Once affected, calves can excrete up to a billion oocysts over the course of a full infection, leading to the rapid spread of the disease.
Infected calves can become stunted, have dry coats and generally never reach their growth potential. There are a number of products on the market to treat coccidiosis, however they are most efficient when used as preventatives in at-risk calves prior to clinical signs. Calves on farms where coccidiosis has been diagnosed should be strategically treated with coccidiostats at seven to 10 days of age, and again two weeks later where environmental contamination is high.
Infected calves showing clinical signs should also be removed from the group as soon as possible, and strict hygiene measures employed in relation to feeding utensils and footwear used. Proper power-washing and disinfection of calf creeps and sheds with an effective disinfectant is also extremely important. Discuss treatment options with your vet.
Tullamore Farm webinar: The second instalment of our Tullamore Farm webinar series next Tuesday will look at breeding on the farm. We will explain how indexes are used to help improve technical performance. Farm manager Shaun Diver will talk about how he manages the breeding season, including artificially inseminating over 90 cows. Heat detection aids and timing of AI will also be discussed. The webinar takes place on Tuesday 6 April at 8.30pm on farmersjournal.ie and across all IFJ social media channels. It’s free to watch and no pre-registration is necessary. If you have a question for me or our panel send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or 086-836 6465. Anyone who missed the first episode on sheep can watch it back on www.ifj.ie/tullamorefarm.
Grazing fertiliser: Many drystock farms will be considering fertiliser application on grazing ground. While first thoughts always go to nitrogen (N), we shouldn’t forget about phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). The 2020 Teagasc soils report showed that 55% of soils on drystock farms are deficient in P while 43% are deficient in K. Just 56% of soils on drystock farms have a pH greater than 6.2. If your soils are deficient in P and K, it is better to spread a compound fertiliser to try to build soil fertility. In terms of P and K, 1,000 gallons/slurry/acre is the equivalent of a bag of 0:7:30/acre. Aim to frontload your N applications to spring and May when the grass plant will be at its most efficient in terms of converting N to grass. On a drystock farm stocked at 1.8LU/ha you should aim to spread around 80-100units/N/acre annually split across 40/units/N/acre in March/April, 20 units/acre in May, 10-20 units/acre in June/July and 10-20 units/acre in August and September.