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June Management Tips

Avoid CCN disease in calves

CCN (cerebrocortical necrosis) is a disease of the central nervous symptom (also referred to as B1 deficiency). The symptoms of the disease seen are weakness, blindness, head pressing, un-coordinated movement and sometimes death. The disease is sporadic in nature (and has been seen in the Bandon area) and very often it may be seen once on a farm and never again.  However there are farms where the problem is seen more frequently. Generally calves are affected but store cattle can also be affected. CCN can also be a significant factor in clinical feed lot acidosis.

Because of its sporadic nature the cause the disease is not well understood. Recent research is indicating that a drop in rumen pH may be causing thiaminase enzyme in the cell wall of bacterial to separate away and become active. This may explain why we see the problem occur where conditions are conducive to acidosis. The basic underlying cause is a deficiency of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine). This vitamin is normally synthesised by microorganisms in the rumen of the calf.

Introduce Beef Sire – Avoid late replacement heifer calves

Results from the Bandon Co-op Heifer rearing programme highlight the fact that the heifers born in late March/April are generally the lightest and also have the lowest ADG. These heifers will struggle to reach target bulling weight. In order to avoid having these heifers in the first place it may be a good idea to introduce beef sires earlier in the breeding season. It is estimated that 5 AI straws are required per heifer that enters the herd eg. A 100 cow herd requiring 20 replacements in the parlour will require 100 AI straws to achieve this. Once these 100 straws are used you should switch to an easy calving beef sire. This will shorten the calving spread of your replacements while also adding value in the form of the beef calf. A cow bred on the 21st May 2017, will calve on the 28th February 2018 (283 days gestation). Any cow bred from now on will be calving in March!

Avoid restricting grass intakes

Unless grass is being measured regularly, it is very difficult to allocate 12 blocks of grass accurately. On 12 hour blocks cows are forced to clean up paddocks at every grazing and hence restrict their intakes. With 48 hour blocks, cows are only forced to eat the low quality grass once every two days. When many farmers are asked why they won’t switch to 36/48 hr blocks, there answer is “I’ll run out of grass in a fortnight!!”. They have missed the point that they are holding their cows potential back by not giving them enough to eat, both in terms of grass and feed.