Volac Conference NI
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 13:58
Volac director Pat Cahill, left, at the replacement heifer rearing workshop on Greenmount Campus with, from left, Jamie Robertson, Aberdeen livestock housing consultant, Prof Mike van Amburgh, Cornell University, USA, Alistair Sampson, Volac NI business manager, and Volac global products manager Niall Jaggan.OVER two hundred farmers and vets packed Greenmount College assembly hall for the Ulster launch of the ‘Feed for Growth’ programme from Volac reports Rodney Magowan.
 Setting the scene at this calf rearing workshop Niall Jaggan, global products manager for Volac, pulled no punches when it came to showing how critical early days are in determining a dairy cow’s lifetime performance.
 “Getting calf rearing right as regards nutrition, health and environment boosts cow lifetime performance by 40% over the national average. By following the ‘Feed for Growth’ programme your heifers can calve down by 24 months, produce more milk for more lactations and get back in calf on time. And all for less investment of your time and money!
 “Volac has developed this new programme to ensure we make full use of the young calf’s ability to make much better use of feed than at any other period in life. Feeding well early in their life yields a huge lifetime bonus. Output rises, inputs fall and herd health is improved.”
 Turning to UK wide average figures Niall noted that lack of longevity was a problem with far too many cows dying in debt.
 “If heifers are not reared on target to be calved and in the parlour by 24 months then they may not break event and be in profit until the third lactation! A lactation almost 60% of British dairy cows currently do not live to see!
J P Harkin, right, of Volac welcomes some younger milk producers from Co Louth visiting Greenmount for the first time to attend the heifer rearing ‘Feed for Growth workshop. “It only took 90 mins driving up and was time well spent.”
 “On farm research has shown that following the Volac ‘Feed for Growth’ programme and using the toolkit supplied can add 10 months to a dairy cow’s milking life!
“Sadly most producers here, and across the water, are reporting an age of first calving average of 29 months. A shocking waste when you realise this means huge numbers do not calve until nearer three years than two years old.
 “This pushes rearing costs up and can be avoided by putting the emphasis on how calves are managed, especially prior to weaning. That is when food conversion figures at 2:1 are best and the foundations are literally laid for a well framed cow able to keep on milking and keep coming back into calf on time.
 “Ensuring calf birthweight has doubled when weaned at no later than 60 days of age makes sound business sense for years to come. Heifers are reared for much less yet put more milk in your bulk tank sooner and for much longer.
 “Research, including on farm trials in the USA and here in the UK, has shown the massive impact of successful heifer rearing on a farm’s viability in good times and bad. 
 “Thus the Volac ‘Feed for Growth’ programme is being launched as a package to help make every farmer a truly professional calf rearer. One, who has target figures in place and the simple, time saving means of recording each animal’s progress. 
Alistair Sampson, left, Volac welcomes Bessbrook milk producer Roy Harper to the ‘Feed for Growth’ dairy heifer rearing workshop at Greenmount College.
 “If you don’t know where you are then the chances of getting to the right place on the bottom line in any enterprise is poor.
  “To freely access the ‘Feed for Growth’  programme browse www.feedforgrowth.com  or contact Volac NI manager Alistair Sampson, tel; 078606 26442.
 “Volac has for 40 years been market leader with quality calf milk replacers manufactured using a unique filtration process. Now the company is stepping forward to provide calf rearers with a heifer roadmap that helps maximise lifelong livestock performance.”

BE proactive and set growth targets in order to optimise first and subsequent lactation milk yields Prof Mike Van Amburgh urged his Ulster audience.
 “If your heifers fail to achieve these targets by first conception, then they never ever catch up,” warned the Professor from Cornell University College of Agriculture. Five hours drive north of New York City the campus is in an area of New York State home to over 30,000 dairy cows.
 “Younger animals at first breeding are reproductively more efficient, they are able to do more work so you’ll get more days of milk and they’ll have fewer problems. These younger animals do not cost as much to rear to first lactation and produce more profit. Furthermore, you need fewer annual replacements to maintain herd size.”
 “Your goal is to achieve 82% of mature size to achieve 80% of mature cow milk yield. For mature weight, it’s determined at the middle of the third and fourth lactation, 80 to 200 days in milk on healthy cows, not culls.” 
See Table 1 for target weights.

IS your calf housing ‘a make do and mend affair’ at the bottom of your yard and at the bottom of your investment priorities?
Despite being the same week as the RUAS Winter Fair this Volac Feed for Growth event filled the main hall at Greenmount College to capacity!
 If so Aberdonian cattle housing consultant Jamie Robertson had some words of warning during the Volac ‘Feed for Growth’ heifer rearing workshop at Greenmount College.
  He urged rearers to list the costs accumulated by a mediocre shed over the past year due to deaths, numbers not thriving, medicines used and time taken up trying to sort out problems.
 “Then ask how many years have you and your family put up with these problems? Problems that have an immediate impact on your daily chores and for years to come leave you with less productive animals.
  “For many this wee bit of number crunching leads to a more serious look at how an existing outbuilding can be improved or money invested in a purpose built calf rearing unit.”
 “In my consultancy work around the British Isles I find that about half of naturally ventilated cattle sheds are simply not fit for purpose. Indeed as calf housing will not benefit from any stack effect a fan and duct is essential.”
  Continuing he reminded rearers that housing problems are generally down to imbalances in the animal’s environment due to too much moisture, lack of fresh air or wrong air speed.
Dromore, Co Down dairy producer Beattie Lilburn paused to chat with Mairéad O’Grady, MSD Animal Health and Alistair Sampson, Volac NI business manager as the ‘Feed for Growth’ heifer rearing workshop got underway.
 “Poor drainage,  poor ventilation or having no
means of controlling air speed will cost you money again and again so my message is simple – get it sorted. 
 “Look at websites such as www.dairyco.org.uk for information on building design.
  “Time and again ill health and poor performance can be traced back to poor drainage and not considering the actual wind speed, air quality and temperature down at calf height”
Jamie Robertson, Livestock Management Systems consultant is based at; 81, Waterloo Quay, Aberdeen, AB11 5DE. Tel; 07971 564148

NUTRITION and growth rate prior to weaning has a much more direct and significant effect on milk yield than genetic selection for production according to American trials.
 “Whilst genetic selection within the herds evaluated yielded just 68kg – 115kg of additional milk per lactation, better pre-weaning calf nutrition and management yielded between four and eight times more milk,” revealed Prof Mike Van Amburgh at the Volac event on Greenmount CAFRE Campus.
Farmers and vet travelled up to a 100 miles to the Feed for Growth workshop on heifer rearing at Greenmount College, Co Antrim.
  “That means when you feed for more nutrient supply above maintenance, then you are actually setting the calf up to be a better lifetime milk producer.
  Continuing the Professor noted the influence calf health on an animal’s livelong performance. Pre-weaned calves in US trials which had no health problems went on as adults to produce an additional 780kg milk yield compared with those suffering diarrhoea.
These pre-weaned calves suffering scour proved to be very sensitive to intakes compared with healthy ones. Feed intakes were reduced consequently less protein was available for protein accretion. Growth rates reduced when calves suffered diarrhoea by 30g/day and where treatment was administered overall growth was 50g/day less when compared to healthy calves. The stunted growth period was compounded by the fact it takes two to three weeks for recovery before normal feed intakes resume.

JUST when does the process of creating a quality heifer begin? From conception, Cornell University Professor Mike Van Amburgh told the ‘Feed for Growth’ Volac workshop at Greenmount.
Volac NI business manager Alistair Sampson, centre, met up with John Herron from compounders R S Herron and Ruiri McAteer of Aurivo.
  “Dairy cows giving birth to heifers have higher yields. US trials featuring 2.39 million lactations from 1.49 million cattle concluded that those calving heifers produced an average 980lbs more milk over their first two lactations. 
 “These findings demonstrate that a cow’s nurturing signals start at conception and biased milk production is programmed during pregnancy. A cow favours her heifer with more milk for better growth.
 “That’s lactocrine hypothesis programming: a cow sends signals via her colostrum which say she wants her calf to grow and be healthy,” he added.
 “Whilst noted for providing immunoglobulins (IgG) to establish passive immunity, colostrum also contains a complex mix of nutrients and non-nutrients which instruct the calf how to realise her genetic potential.” 
They include insulin which drives glucose out of the gut and into the digestive system, prolactin, IGF-1 which drives protein synthesis, 17 βEstradiol, a steroid for growth promotion and growth hormone.
 Whilst research into understanding colostrum’s function is currently ongoing, trials have so far proven that the mix of components encourage 
Welcome smiles as Brendan McVeigh, MSD Animal Health, meets up with Patricia and Gemma Andrews from Parkland Veterinary Group, Portglenone at the Volac heifer rearing workshop at Greenmount College. Health, nutrition and housing being the three key themes discussed.
- gut maturation - more developed function tissue and more enzymes encourage greater digestibility, absorption capacity and uptake  
- a supply of hormones that enhance absorption
- and an uptake of hormones which altered set points for feed uptake, and possibly feed efficiency
  Prof van Amburgh noting that ,“US trials which extended colostrum feeding beyond the first 24 hours to the first four days concluded that glucose uptake increased by almost 100%, plasma glucagon and plasma protein levels were higher and plasma urea lower. 

“Further US trials have concluded that colostrum’s components can impact on pre and post weaning feed efficiency. Colostrum has also been proven to influence feed intake regulation or satiety post weaning and the combination of the two effects maybe for life. 
 “In other words, the lactocrine hypothesis proposes that some factors in colostrum may permanently affect future calf performance such as growth, efficiency or even future milk production.” 
Volac Pink Wrap a Winner
Friday, 04 September 2015 10:52
VOLAC pink edition film proved a winner on all fronts as NI farmers, merchants and the media backed a UK wide campaign to increase breast cancer awareness and raise funds for medical research.
 Veteran Volac NI manager Alistair Sampson appeared in newspapers, on TV and across five radio stations explaining that for every pink roll sold a donation went to aid breast cancer research, prevention and treatment.
At the NI launch of the Volac pink big bale silage wrap that raised funds for breast cancer charities were radiographers Harriet Gibson, left, and Deborah Sproule, a Castlederg dairy farmer's wife. For every pink roll of Topwrap RS1900 sold a donation went to aid breast cancer research, prevention and treatment.  A David Ralston Photograph.
 Film sold out fast following the NI launch of the pink wrap on the Castlederg dairy farm of Gareth Sproule and his wife Deborah. A radiographer with the breast screening unit at Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry Deborah used the eye catching pink film to remind women that routine screening can save a life.
 For Alistair this Trioplast pink wrap first used in NZ was a winner on all fronts. Yes, film sold out, but more important Volac was able to raise funds for research and remind farm families of the need to take care of their own health.
 Over three months later pink film photos sent in by farmers and merchants are still appearing in the press!
Liver and Rumen Fluke Research
Friday, 04 September 2015 10:49
A Liver and Rumen Fluke Research Briefing with keynote speaker Dr Philip Skuce of the Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh attracted over 60 vets from practices province wide reports Rodney Magowan.  Other speakers were Dr Ryan Law, Dunbia and host Mairéad O’Grady MSD Animal Health.

THOUGH the life cycle of the Liver Fluke and the risk this parasite poses to profitability has long been known to farmers it remains a potent threat to livestock health Dr Skuce warns.  “Even the long dry summer and autumn of 2014 does not mean fluke won’t be a problem as last winter was wet and mild. Indeed predicting fluke risk has become more problematic.
Dr Philip Skuce from the Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh reported on research into the spread of both Liver and Rumen Fluke.
 “From the 1950s until recent years the Ollerenshaw Index was used to prepare fluke forecasts and allow farmers to give timely doses. In more recent times, possible climate change, drug resistance, increased animal movements and EU environmental schemes encouraging land owners to protect wet ground have all combined to make forecasting harder.
 “This means farmers, more than ever, must to plan ahead to protect stock with the advice of their vets and using the correct flukicide at each stage of the life cycle.
 “Remember, it is vital you know what active ingredients are in the different fluke products on offer as some flukicides kill only mature fluke whereas some others also hit immature fluke. Vets can advise on this and check if there is a resistance problem with any particular fluke dose. Dairy farmers also need to comply with recent rulings that limit their options to products containing Albendazole or Oxyclozanide for use during lactation.”
 Continuing Dr Skuce, a native of Northern Ireland, who joined the Moredun Research Institute in 1995, warned that keeping fluke at bay also makes good business sense. “Taking time to develop a strategy to control and prevent Liver Fluke will yield dividends as this parasite reduces milk yield and DLWG in cattle. One investigation found the cost of lost production from beef cattle was up to £250 a head.
 “For milk producers fluke on the farm means heifers not reaching target weights for age and a longterm drop in yield. Likewise sheep deaths due to severe fluke infestation are seen all too often and overall flock performance suffers.
 “With fluke risk forecasting more problematic, rising resistance to drugs and changes in legislation producers must plan to protect their businesses from the new threat this old foe poses to profits.”


ASKED if Rumen Fluke was likely to pose a major new threat to livestock performance Dr Skuce noted that despite all the anecdotal reports regarding rumen fluke  just two cases have been reported to date, one in sheep, the other in cattle..
 “These deaths were caused by Rumen Fluke on flooded farms across the water; however these parasites are becoming more common. Over the past decade Rumen Fluke eggs have started to appear in dung samples taken from cattle and sheep across the British Isles.
 “Indeed recent AFBI veterinary investigations found that about 30% of sheep and 40% of cattle in NI now have Rumen Fluke. So far the clinical importance of Rumen Fluke seems very marginal compared to that of Liver Fluke, but many farmers are reporting that successfully treating stock that have Rumen Fluke leads to improved animal performance.”
 Dr Skuce added that current work at the Moredun has found that the strain of Rumen Fluke in the British Isles is ‘Calicopharon daubney’ and not Paramphistomum cervi as previously thought. The potential significance of this finding is that C daubney is the main species of Rumen Fluke found on the European mainland and is known to favour the same mud snail as liver fluke as its intermediate host.
  This would back up reports of Rumen Fluke being a problem on drier land with no fresh water or river boundaries.
  “As always, farmers fearing a problem with fluke should take dung samples to their vet for analysis as large numbers of immature Rumen Fluke in the intestine can cause ill thrift or diarrhoea. There is no licensed treatment available for rumen fluke. However, we are aware that oxyclozanide is effective against rumen fluke which means rumen fluke can be controlled as a result of dosing with oxyclozanide-containing products such as Zanil to treat liver fluke.”

Ballynahinch Farmer Blue President
Friday, 04 September 2015 10:42
BALLYNAHINCH, Co Down farmer Johnny Young has become the first ever Honorary President of the Northern Ireland Blue Cattle Club reports Rodney Magowan.
One of the pioneers of British Blue cattle breeding in the province Johnny was  appointed Hon President at the  Cattle Club AGM, much too his surprise! Making the presentation Club committee member James Martin of Ballyblack paid tribute to Johnny’s unstinting efforts for the club over many years.
Ballynahinch farmer John Young, centre, was made Honorary President at the NI Blue Cattle Club AGM in recognition of his efforts on behalf of the breed. Club members James Martin, left, Ballyblack and Alan Cleland, Downpatrick, made the surprise presentation. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
 “No one ever had to ask Johnny to come along and help run events such as the young handlers’ competition, he simply turned up and quietly got on with the work! “ James noted.
 “Always a pleasure to work with our new President has consistently encouraged other breeders, especially the younger folk.  So it is hardly surprising his grand children are so closely involved in managing the family’s Magheradroll pedigree British Blue Cattle Herd.”
 Responding Johnny said that being in a club means working together for the good of the club and ensuring young people are made welcome as they are the future of any organisation
. “British Blue cattle are the ultimate beef breed when it comes to adding value to calves bred from dairy or suckler herd. Being made Hon President is a great honour and I wish the club success in the future.”
Top Terminal Sire Breeds Mart Toppers!
Friday, 04 September 2015 10:39
“WHEN it comes to adding value to calves from dairy or suckler herds British Blues remain the top terminal sire for progressive farmers,” the key note comment from Chairman Jason Edgar at the NI Blue Cattle Club AGM.
  Continuing Jason noted that beef prospects were improving after a difficult year for the sector. This had, until recently, impacted on pedigree bull sale prices, but nationwide dropped calves, stores and finished stock with Blue breeding kept topping mart reports in good times and bad times.. “Through out this year past the Blue Club had a series of events, including a strong presence at NI shows. Indeed British Blues bred in NI took awards and top prices at breed shows and sales across the water. This reflects the quality of cattle bred in this part of the UK.
Jason Edgar, Chairman, NI Blue Cattle Club and Libby Young, Secretary with Paul Elwood, right, HVS Animal Health, the guest speaker at the Club's AGM. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
 “To all members who have helped promote the breed at events and to all our sponsors a big thank you from club officer holders...
 “However, I must especially note that a good friend of the NI Blue Club has decided to step down as secretary of the British Blue Cattle Society. John Fleming always tried to help and encourage breeder in this region and we wish him well in retirement as we welcome new secretary Andy Ryder.
 “On behalf of the NI Club our British Blue Cattle Society council member Harold McKee has made a presentation to John.”
 The following were then elected to serve for the year to come;
Chairman Jason Edgar, vice chairman Basil Dougherty, treasurer David Young, secretary Libby Young.
Executive committee; James Martin, Oliver McCann, Alan Cleland, Ivan Gordon and Stephen Gordon.
Auditors A Cleland and Jim Sloan.

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