A husband and wife team in Powys has improved calf performance by working closely with their vet as part of a proactive animal health project.
Stoc+ is a project which is working with farmers and vets in Wales to promote proactive flock and herd health management, to help Wales lead the world in animal welfare, sustainability and efficiency.
The project, led by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), is one strand of the Red Meat Development Programme – a 5-year Welsh Government and European Union-funded initiative.
Old Hall is an upland farm in Sarn, Newtown run by Tom and Danielle Hill. The main farming business is sheep and beef and, as part of the Stoc+ project, the couple have worked closely with Oli Hodgkinson at Trefaldwyn Vets to identify priorities and recommendations to improve the farm’s flock and herd health.
Reducing incidence of pneumonia in young calves which are bought in was identified as a key priority on the farm. The couple have been working with Oli to improve calf health and growth rates by making simple changes to calf management and cattle housing.
Oli explained, “Once we identified pneumonia as an issue, we were able to take action to improve calf health and performance. All calves were given jackets and were vaccinated on arrival against pneumonia which improves the calves’ immune response and prevents disease.
“Ensuring that the calves were housed in appropriate conditions was also key to improving their performance and to reduce the number of pneumonia cases. At Old Hall, following the use of a smoke bomb to check the shed ventilation, the calves are now housed in smaller pens and smaller groups with stock boards on hurdles to reduce the draught coming through and to improve the ‘nesting area.’”
Tom Hill added, “Being part of the Stoc+ project has encouraged us to work even closer with Oli to improve calf health and performance on the farm and reduce the risk of pneumonia. It has also highlighted that vaccination is only part of the solution and adapting the current housing and ventilation will improve health and performance.”
More information on cattle housing and checking the buildings to ensure healthy cattle can be found here.
HCC’s Stoc+ is one of three 5-year projects in the Red Meat Development Programme which is funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.