BY JOHN SEXTON
TEAGASC Cork West opened its 2019 series of seminars with an open day on calf rearing on the O’Mahony family farm at Shanakill, Kilbrittain, on Thursday, January 10th.
While many aspects of calf rearing were dealt with, the central theme concerned the dreaded Johnes Disease. The principal speaker was Eamon Guinevan, MRCVS, of the Riverview Group, who gave an extensive talk to four workshops on the seriousness of the disease and the steps to be taken.
The Irish dairy industry has taken a significant step in developing a long-term approach to the control of Johnes Disease. Phase two of the Irish Johnes control programme is a long-term and sustainable approach with stakeholders agreeing to jointly fund a range of activities for four yours.
The main focus of the programme continues to be at herd level and provides pathways for test negative and test positive herds to give demonstrable progress towards improved herd assurance for Johnes Disease. For herds entering the test negative pathway, there is an option to reduce the intensity of testing after four years of test negatives.
In addition to herd level activities, phase 2 of the programme retains a commitment to enhanced communication and the continuation of farmer awareness seminars. In conclusion, Eamonn said herd owners are required to complete regular Veterinary Risk Assessments and Management Plans undertaken by approved by veterinary practioners.
An annual herd test (one blood or one milk sample per eligible animal) is available for all herds in 2019 with ancillary testing of faecal samples following test positive results in herds where infection has not already been confirmed (by previous faecal positive result), and a veterinary investigation funded through the targeted advisory service on animal health following positive ancillary test results.
The seminar was opened by Matt Treacy, Teagasc dairy adviser at Darrara, who gave a brief outline on the number of calves born each year and the number which survive. Also contributing to the opening was Grainne O’Dwyer of Animal Health Ireland.
Ciara Hayes of Teagasc gave an extensive talk in the shed on calf scour, its preventive and control, while Stuart Childs and Nigel Kennington dealt with calf housing and Mark O’Sullivan and Matthew Ryan spoke about general animal welfare.
Una Hickey of Volac gave a general summing-up. Also present at the seminar were John McNamara, Teagasc adviser, and John Horgan, regional manager of Teagasc, Cork West.
The conditions displayed by the O’Mahony family farm were conducive to healthy calf rearing.