The suckled calf producers who have signed up to the SureCalf® programme and are planning to sell their calves in Enniskillen Mart include leading calf producers, Stephen Maguire from Congo, Maguiresbridge and Francis McDonnell from Derrynaseer Road, Dromore.
These two farmers are dedicated to animal health and welfare and to producing the best calves possible for the market. Both are closely involved in research projects and in farmer groups where transfer of knowledge is paramount.
Stephen runs a 58 cow herd of Simmental and Limousin cross cows which calve from January to April. He maintains a closed herd for biosecurity reasons with the only animal purchased being the Limousin stock bull. He is involved in the AgriSearch project which has synchronised and A I’d 1000 cows and heifers on 12 farms throughout NI.
Close liaison with Brendan Fee from Three Valley Vets ensures a detailed and effective herd health programme. This involves vaccination of cows and heifers for BVDv and Lepto and vaccination prior to calving with a three-way vaccine against Rotavirus, Coronavirus and E. Coli K99 to prevent neonatal calf scours. The whole herd is vaccinated for IBR and blackleg. All young stock have been wormed three times throughout the season and calves were wormed two weeks ago with CYDECTIN® 0.5% Pour-On for Cattle to provide five weeks cover against stomach worms and lungworm.
Stephen is taking eight AI bred, January/February born bull calves to Enniskillen which are on the SureCalf® Duo programme and are creep grazing and creep feeding to reduce stress at weaning. He said: “If you want to be in this business for the long term then your calves must perform for the buyers. Equally the buyer must be prepared to pay for better performance.”
Stephen’s calves have obviously performed in the past as he has a repeat buyer for the remainder of his calves.
He is a keen advocate of farmers learning from each other and for this reason is part of the NI Suckler Beef Programme where transfer of knowledge between the members has proved invaluable.
Francis McDonnell agrees wholeheartedly with this philosophy and is fully engaged with CAFRE’s local Business Development Group. Both farmers are learning from transfer of knowledge in their group and from local research – Francis is also involved in AgriSearch’s AI and synchronisation project.
Francis has a busy schedule working full time with Fujitsu in IT in Derry and working in partnership with his father, Michael, on the farm. Their 45 cow herd of Simmental, Charolais and Limousin cross cows calve February to May and they have been rearing their own replacements for the last four to five years.
They vaccinate for BVDv, Lepto and Rota/Corona/E. Coli K99 and young stock were treated for stomach worm, lungworm and late immature plus adult fluke over one month ago and a second time a fortnight ago. They work closely with Noel Doyle and Roger Wallace at Three Valley Vets.
Their calves, which are part of the SureCalf ®Duo programme, and are destined for the Enniskillen sales, are eight bulls and two heifers which were born in March and April. Some are AI bred and some sired by their Charolais bull. Again the calves are creep feeding and graze during the day to gradually break the maternal bond prior to weaning.
Aurelie Moralis, Veterinary Consultant with Zoetis said that she was delighted that two such enterprising farmers were participating in the scheme. She said: “These farmers are dedicated to their livestock and are keen to learn and improve through transfer of knowledge from their peers, from advisory sources and from research.”
Aurelie went on to say that any farmer who wishes to participate in the SureCalf® programme can register their calves at least two weeks before 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 Tracherine® (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.