Improving the health and welfare of beef cattle

The second in a series of live interactive Teagasc Virtual Beef Conference webinars takes place tonight at 8:00pm, with this evening’s focus being on improving the health and welfare of beef cattle.

Register today at www.teagasc.ie/beefcon20 and join online this evening for information on how the performance and welfare of cattle can be affected by different penning conditions and the increasingly important role vaccinations have in suckler cows pre-calving.

Session two this evening will be chaired by Dr. Conor McAloon, University College Dublin (UCD) School of Veterinary Medicine, and the panellists are Dr. Bernadette Earley from Teagasc Grange and Dr. Doreen Corridan from Munster Bovine.

Topics covered tonight will include:

  • Effect of space allowance and underfoot conditions on indoor finishing cattle performance and welfare;
  • Best practice vaccination protocols for suckler cows pre-calving.

Effect of space allowance and underfoot conditions on indoor finishing cattle performance and welfare

Recently there have been increasing concerns at EU level around the whole area of cattle welfare during housing.

These concerns include housing conditions; areas for feeding; walking and resting; space allowances; and floor conditions.

One of the more alarming suggestions being made is that the space allowances per animal on concrete-slatted floors would increase to 3m2 for a 500kg animal and that this should then increase by 0.5m2 per 100kg above.

This would equate to an almost doubling of the current space allocation provided to finishing cattle.

There have also been calls for the use of concrete-slatted floors to be phased out altogether and to be replaced by more ‘welfare friendly’ floor surfaces such as slats covered in rubber mats or the use of straw bedding.

Dr. Bernadette Earley has recently concluded a number of large research trials where she looked at the effect of space allowance and underfoot conditions on indoor finishing cattle performance and welfare and she will be presenting these results this evening.

Best Practice Vaccination Protocols for Suckler Cows Pre-calving

Vaccines play a key role in maintaining health. A question often asked is: “What should I vaccinate for?”

Dr. Doreen Corridan from Munster Bovine will address this topic this evening where she will emphasise the advantages of taking blood samples from five to 10 weanlings to see what diseases are circulating in the herd.

Screening weanlings is very effective as suckler cows have their calves with them for the first seven to 10 months of their life.

Combining this screen with other issues on the farm in the previous 12 months gives the basis on which to draw up a herd health plan with the vet.

Dr. Corridan will be covering the vaccines that need to be considered for suckler cows, including scour vaccines, leptospirosis, IBR and salmonella.

The third and final session of the Teagasc Virtual Beef Conference will be on tomorrow night at 8:00pm where a panel of speakers chaired by the Teagasc Director, Prof. Gerry Boyle, will be discussing how we as a country can exploit the full potential of Irish grass-fed beef.

Find the full schedule at www.teagasc.ie/beefcon20.