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TheBeefSite Newsletter - 22 May 2013

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Wednesday 22nd May 2013.
Michael Priestley - Editor

Michael Priestley

Calf Preconditioning Programme Gathers Momentum

A preconditioning vaccination scheme that protects calves against pneumonia and other respiratory diseases is gathering pace in the UK.

The Zoetis scheme, dubbed SureCalf, had an estimated 5,000 calves enrolled last year, mainly in Scotland and Northern England. Premiums of 12 pence per kilo have been reported by some livestock auctions meaning an overall average gain of £36.47/head.

This is according to Carolyn Hogan, a Vet at the animal health company Zoetis, where the vaccine used in the scheme is made.

Data collected from United Auctions Sales shows that SureCalf is gaining popularity. This is underpinned by both buyer and seller benefiting, states Mrs Hogan. 

“For Surecalf sellers, they invest in a vaccination that protects calf post-sale and may mean good relationships can be built up with the buyer," said Mrs Hogan For the buyer, their investment is protected against the potentially devastating effects of pneumonia on calf health, welfare and farm profitability.”

The product involved is Rispoval 4, which protects calves against Bovine Respiratory Virus, Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis, Parainfluenza and Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD). In the US, different people run similar preconditioning programmes, although Mrs Hogan states these are very complex arrangements.

Although the programme has impressed in Britain, no similar preconditioning package currently exists in Europe. Mrs Hogan has suggested that if communication and marketing can be made to work, the scheme could have potential to expand abroad - particularly into the Spanish or Italian feedlot sectors.

“We have looked at doing something similar to SureCalf in Europe. As far as we know, no such thing exists. Surecalf would be hugely valuable in a situation where suckled calves go into feedlots such as in Italy.

“Opportunities may exist in Ireland where they send a lot of calves over to the Spanish and Italian feedlots but it is a case of trying to get buyers and sellers acting together over continents – this is a bit tricky,” added Mrs Hogan.

Basil Lowman, Beef Specialist at the Scottish Agricultural college, has praised the scheme, saying that SureCalf is a fantastic scheme that has been slow spread over the UK. 

"I've never known a year when vaccinating against pneumonia will be more critical," said Mr Lowman, in favour of SureCalf. 

"My general advice to farmers at the moment is if you aren't vaccinating already, then start doing so."

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This Week's Articles and Analysis

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Forage Focus: Stretching out the Spring Flush of Forage Growth
May is a vital time for spring 'flush', when forage grasses should achieve 70 per cent of growth and perennial grasses reach full head, writes Chris Penrose, Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Morgan County.

Phosphorous in Your Cows Minerals?
Expensive and environmentally damaging if used incorrectly, phosphorous requirement needs gauging by forage testing, writes Chris Wand, Beef Cattle and Sheep Nutritionist at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

Soil Nitrogen for Efficient Grass Production
Noeleen McDonald was the recipient of the Best Oral Presentation at the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship seminar for her PhD investigation into soil nitrogen supply potential in Irish grassland soils

Phosphorous In Wheat Can Be Improved
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Company News

MSD Animal Health Announce New Vaccinator Range
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