A programme to assist sellers and buyers of suckled calves to minimise the impact of respiratory disease has just been launched in Northern Ireland by Zoetis.
Initially the programme will operate in Ballymena and Enniskillen from the end of September but the eventual aim is to expand it to all marts.
Veterinary Surgeon with Zoetis, Aurelie Moralis explains: “Suckler herd owners are currently planning for the suckled calf sales and are hoping for firm prices to ensure a profitable enterprise, while beef finishers want to purchase healthy calves that will not suffer setbacks and will continue to thrive in order to get the maximum potential growth from each animal.”
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.
So how can the calf buyer ensure that he or she is buying calves that have a reduced chance of suffering a setback after sale?
SureCalf® is a pre-conditioning programme aimed at minimising the impact of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) 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. Whilst the scheme requirements may differ, 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.
SureCalf ® Duo is ideal for calves sold in the autumn prior to their first winter housing period. Calves are vaccinated pre-sale against the three key respiratory viruses, BRSv, Pi3v and IBR. Although not a specific requirement of the scheme, calves should ideally also be tissue sample tagged and verified BVDv free on the BVDv data base. Sellers register their calves at least two weeks prior to sale by calling the SureCalf® Helpline on 0800 668 1886.
The information required are 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. They will then receive personalised SureCalf® certificates, with these details. On the day of sale the seller provides the buyer with this signed certificate showing compliance with the SureCalf® programme. The seller will also receive blue ear tags which can be inserted in the calf’s ear and cards for the calf pens, thus identifying the vaccinated calves for the buyers.
Calves must be over 10 weeks of age, and are vaccinated one to three weeks prior to sale with a single intranasal dose of Rispoval® IntraNasal (against BRSv and Pi3v) and a single intranasal dose of TracherineTM (against IBR). The buyer benefits from up to six months ongoing cover against IBR and up to three months ongoing cover against BRSv and Pi3v ensuring protection going into the winter housing period.
Aurelie added: “SureCalf® was launched in Scotland in 2007 and has grown each year with sellers experiencing keen demand for their calves and buyers reporting reliable good health and strong growth performance which more than justifies any premium they may have paid.”