The autumn months can certainly be a busy period with suckler calf sales, housing of livestock and the slurry spreading deadline approaching. This year is very different to 2018’s ‘back end’ with more unsettled weather, heavy bursts of rain and deteriorating ground conditions for nearly all parts of the country. Although grazing cover in some areas is still good, the poorer weather makes performance gains harder to achieve and most farms will be looking to commence housing, or indeed have housed cattle already.
Problems from a variety of sources which cause disease outbreaks like pneumonia and dysentery can occur as different batches of cattle are housed and mixed and additional animals are bought-in, along with the sudden changing of the forage type from fresh to ensiled grass. Therefore there is a need for good farm management practices to prevent outbreaks. In terms of housing, it should be free from draughts, well ventilated, clean and dry, comfortable and properly stocked. A major factor in the spread of infection is poor ventilation, where inadequate air movement results in stale, humid air conditions in which pathogenic organisms thrive. The chance of these problems occurring can be reduced by maintaining good air quality.
One method of improving air quality in livestock buildings is by fogging the air over the animals with Provita Promist, with the use of a mechanical fogger. The natural organic acids in Provita Promist lower the environmental pH providing an environment inhibitory to pathogens. It also reduces atmospheric dust and ammonia levels to improve the overall air quality. Typically 25 litres of Promist can be used to fog housing for 100 cattle and only costs £2 per head for the housing period. Promist is used regularly across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Large calf rearing unit
Approximately 2000 calves per year are reared on the farm and Promist is used to fog houses as calves arrive on farm as they come from many different sources so are exposed to a mixture of various airborne pathogens. Before the use of Promist it was estimated 50% of the calves needed to be given an antibiotic for respiratory-related infections. Since using Provita Promist regularly, the effect was immediate and a significant improvement in the air quality resulted in only 5% of calves needing an antibiotic; this is a 90% reduction!
Mixed beef enterprise
Provita Promist is used to fog sheds when weanlings, young stores, finishers and suckler cow groups are housed from late September to early November. The results are very noticeable when mixing various batches of cattle in the same air space as no groups develop acute coughs upon housing. This means cattle settle quicker into the housing environment and has little impact on daily liveweight gains. The respiratory health of bought-in calves has also been greatly improved with use of Provita Promist.
Autumn calving herd
The farm has always favoured a “prevention rather than cure approach” to all matters of animal health. With respect to this, the farm was advised to use Provita’s Promist product in the sheds as soon as the cattle are housed. It is used on a daily basis in the calf shed for the first month or so after housing and the results have been tremendous. Respiratory related cases are kept to an absolute minimum and calves respond with excellent growth rates over 1kg per day being achieved. Once calves settle into the winter housing, the frequency of fogging is cut back slightly. This farm would “recommend the use of Promist to all farmers rearing calves and, particularly, on those farms where the risk of young stock taking pneumonia is high.”
For more information or to arrange an on-farm demonstration of Promist contact George Shaw, Technical Adviser on 078 4192 6219 or Provita on 0800 328 4982.