Siobhan Regan has been recently appointed as Animal Health Vision (AHV) Ireland’s veterinary technical specialist.
Veterinary surgeons will play a key role in reducing the usage of antibiotics within Irish agriculture. In fact, it’s a development that is already gathering momentum – and Siobhan is a case in point.
“I have taken on the role following two years of involvement with a mixed veterinary practice,” said Siobhan.
“The need to reduce the levels of traditional medicines used within the livestock sectors is obvious. What attracted me to AHV was the new and innovative thinking that the company has brought to bear in this regard.
“Everyone involved in livestock production, farmers and vets, are now in a learning process, one that will see more focus placed on improved herd health strategies and recognising the need to deliver better disease prevention and welfare outcomes for animals.”
AHV’s pioneering of quorum-sensing science as a means of managing the bacteria was an issue that Siobhan had only a peripheral knowledge of prior to joining the business.
“Going back to my college days, I was aware of the fact that bacterial populations produce biofilm, which is a critically important part of their communication system,” the veterinary technical specialist said.
“But it was only when I joined AHV that I got fully up to speed on how this fundamental fact in tandem with the science, that is associated with quorum sensing, can be used to develop effective solutions to deal with health challenges that animals face.”
Siobhan was brought up on a beef farm close to Castlebar in Co. Mayo. She has also had a strong interest in horses throughout her life.
In her new position, Siobhan will be working closely with other members of the AHV team, livestock producers and veterinary surgeons to advise on how best to deal with specific animal health cases that arise.
A lot of her time will be dedicated to helping AHV customers put in place management plans that will prevent animal-health related problems from arising in the first place.
One of the biggest challenges facing Irish dairy farmers at this time of the year is that of getting cows back into calf successfully.
“Ensuring that cows are not in a negative energy balance at the beginning of the breeding season is critically important in this regard,” Siobhan explained.
“If they do not have the energy required to drive regular ovulation, then fertility rates can be badly affected.
“Another potential consequence of cows having a poor energy balance during the breeding season is that of early foetal absorption.
“Cows in severe negative energy balance directly post-calving are predisposed to a host of metabolic disorders in both clinical and sub-clinical forms,” she added.
“It all adds to the additional stress being put on a cow that is programmed to produce high volumes of milk in early lactation,” the veterinary technical specialist added.
“And, of course, prevention is always better than cure.”
According to the AHV veterinarian, the company’s ‘Booster’ tablet has been designed specifically to allow cows to deal more effectively with the challenges associated with a negative energy scenario developing directly after calving.
“The Booster tablet works in two ways. One, by encouraging the populations of those bacteria in the rumen that will act to extract higher levels of energy from the feeds offered to cows post calving,” she said.
“Two, by improving the efficiency of the liver as the liver is the main supplier of energy. By targeting the two ‘engines’ of the cow, more energy will be produced and used efficiently for both fertility and production.
“Given the seasonal nature of Irish dairy farming, it is important to ensure that cows achieve as close as it is possible to get to a 365-day calving cycle for successful profitability of the business.
“So, as soon as a calf is born, farmers will be striving to get the dam back in calf again to meet the production needs of the business.”
With this in mind, Siobhan recommends administration of a Booster tablet at some point during the calving interval (from two weeks before calving to four weeks post calving) for high-yielding dairy cows, and a second tablet 60 days post-calving for breeding purposes.
“This approach helps to ensure that negative energy balances are minimised and that cows enter the new breeding season with regular and successful ovulation and with an inherent ability to conceive effectively,” she said.
“Cows that did not receive a Booster tablet in the weeks post-calving will benefit from the administration of one now.
“There is ample evidence to confirm that by taking this approach farmers can proactively manage one of the key drivers that impacts on the efficiency of Irish milk production.
“The entire AHV range has been developed to allow animals to use their own immune system and general metabolism to prevent health-related issues from impacting on their production and performance-related capacities in the first place,” Siobhan continued.
“The company has brought new thinking to bear in terms of delivering improved health outcomes for production animals.
“I believe both farmers and vets would benefit greatly by learning more about what AHV has to offer the livestock sector.
“We are all on a journey, one that requires us to work with animals in ways that allow them to express their innate abilities to fend off disease.”
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