As the main run of suckled calf sales gets underway this week buyers are delighted to learn that a number of those on offer will be Surecalf® calves, identified by their blue ear tags in the sale ring.
There is an entry of 36 calves for the sale in Ballymena Mart today and further entries for the suckled calf sales in both Enniskillen Mart and Ballymena.
Aurelie Moralis, Veterinary Surgeon with Zoetis explains: “SureCalf® is a pre-conditioning programme aimed at minimising the impact of bovine respiratory disease and improving the welfare of calves as they pass through market. There are three schemes within the programme, based on which vaccine is used, age of the animal, and whether or not it has already been through a winter housing season, but the aim of each is the same - to help minimise the impact of respiratory disease; to help protect the buyer’s investment and to maximise the sale value for the seller.”
Calves are vaccinated pre-sale against the three key respiratory viruses, BRSv, Pi3v and IBR.
Although not a specific requirement of the scheme, calves may also be tissue sample tagged and verified BVDv free on the BVDv data base.
It is a very simple system whereby these sellers registered their calves at least two weeks prior to sale by calling the SureCalf® Helpline on 0800 668 1886 and provided the dates of birth of the calves, numbers being sold, the date of vaccination and the batch number of the vaccines used, plus the name of their veterinary practice. On sale day they will have personalised SureCalf® certificates, which outline these details. These signed certificates will be given to the buyer to indicate compliance with the SureCalf® programme. The calves will also have blue ear tags and a sign on their pen to identify the vaccinated calves for potential buyers.
Aurelie went on to explain that a combination of the stress of transportation and mixing of calves from different sources increases exposure to new pathogens.
This increases the risk of respiratory disease, with the potential for calves to suffer setbacks when they arrive at the finishing farm. Not only does this cost money in treatment and calf losses but it can also extend the time needed to finish these calves - costs that the industry cannot afford in today’s economic climate.
Farmers who wish to participate in the SureCalf® scheme should call the SureCalf® Helpline on 0800 668 1886 for further information.