The greatest vaccine on every dairy farm….

There is one thing more important than any vaccine or magic bullet when it comes to animal health and it starts with underlying husbandry practices, according to some of the top young dairy farmers.

They singled out colostrum as the best instrument dairy farmers have in terms of animal health on their farms.

Talking at the Teagasc Dairy Expansion Seminar in the Horse and Jockey recently, their opinion was also backed up by Donal Sammin of the Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Laboratories, who said farmers must ensure new born calves get adequate colostrum as it has a big impact on calf mortality and health.

“More important than causes of disease are more underlying husbandary practices such as inadequate colostral immunity in neonatal calves.

“As people intensify they get into more cow numners and there are not enough hours in the day – so you have to prioritise.”

Laurence Sexton, a dairy farmer from Kilbrittan, Co. Cork told the seminar that he doesn’t take advice easily as he thinks it will cost him money, but “advice is essential so make sure you are getting good advice”.

He warned that bad habits can creep in when you’re expanding and things happen that you can’t necessarily control.

“The greatest vaccine we all have is colostrum. If you give that animal the best start in life it will do everything right further along the road. You can talk about every other fancy magic bullet in the world, but colostrum is the best possible start.”

He reminded the seminar of the one, two, three of colostrum:

  • First milk
  • Two hours
  • Three litres