About a week or 10 days after the weanlings were housed, farmer John Hally noticed fresh blood in the dung on the slats. There was enough seen to be from more than one or two animals, so further investigation was required.

The farm vet, Tom Julian from O’Connor Julian veterinary practice in Cashel, Co Tipperary, called to the farm to inspect the cattle. From this, Tom was quite certain that it was a coccidiosis issue.

There was only a few cattle noticed with a problem and the signs were a slightly raised tail, as well as regular forcing to make manure, which was loose and only small amounts being made each time.

These factors all indicated that there was some discomfort in the rectum.

Prior to going in with any treatment, it was decided to carry out a dung sample, both from the noticeable off-form animals and a pooled sample from the rest of the animals.


The results of the pooled dung sample did not show oocysts levels high enough to cause clinical signs in the cattle. Even in the dung samples from the individual animals, the level of oocytes did not warrant treatment.

The course of action was to keep a close eye on stock over the following days to see if the problem persisted.

Within two days, there was no trace of blood in the dung in any of the weanling sheds and cattle continued to feed well and look healthy, so no corrective action was necessary.

The dung samples did indicate that the animals needed a worm dose, as we expected, so they were treated prior to Christmas.


The cause of the clinical signs for those two days was likely a result of housing. This changed the animals’ environment, diet and social groupings, as cattle were penned into differing groups.

All these factors combined may have put a slight stress on the system leading to the upset.


I was worried that by not treating the animals we were running the risk of losing out on thrive and production. However, when we saw how quickly the animals got over the problem, any fears were quickly alleviated.

Every year, we carry out a mid-winter weighing, so the plan is to weigh all the cattle next week to see how they are performing.

They were weighed at housing time, so we will be able to calculate daily liveweight gains indoors. If there are any issues with the level of performance, further investigation will be necessary.

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Watch: Thrive Demo Farm update – coccidiosis in weanlings