Calves which were part of the SureCalf ® programme were popular with both sellers and buyers at sales in Enniskillen, Ballymena and Plumbridge last autumn.
Glen Warnock, Glenshane Road, Claudy had visited some sales at other centres a few weeks before his calves went on the market and was disappointed at some of the prices paid.
However, when his 18 bull and two heifer calves, which were born at the end of January, went through the ring at Plumbridge he was pleased with the result.
He sold 13 Charolais, and three Simmentals which were by his own bulls and two calves by a Limousin AI bull to average 217 pence per kilo.
He works closely with his vet, Des Fitzsimmons from Cumber House Veterinary Surgery, to ensure that his calves are healthy and thriving thus ensuring repeat buyers for many of them at the sales each year. He also retains some of the bulls for finishing as bull beef and heifers for breeding. None of the 40 remaining calves still on the farm that were vaccinated at the same time as those sold at Plumbridge needed any further medication for pneumonia to date ie. first week in January 2017.
Stephen Maguire from Congo, Maguiresbridge, was also pleased with the prices he received for his SureCalves ® at Enniskillen Mart when they averaged 220 pence per kilo for the eight calves offered. He reckons that the price did more than recoup the price of the vaccine.
Stephen runs a 58 cow herd of Simmental and Limousin cross cows which calve January to April. He maintains a closed herd for disease reasons. He is involved in research projects and farmer business groups as he believes that the transfer of knowledge is paramount. Close liaison with Brendan Fee from Three Valley Vets ensures a detailed and effective herd health programme.
The remainder of Stephen’s calves are sold privately to a repeat buyer who has experience of the quality provided.
Eric Bruce from Killymitten, Ballinamallard is also aware of that quality, and purchased some of Stephen’s SureCalves ® at Enniskillen Mart. He commented that Stephen always brings out top quality calves. He noted that October is a stressful time for young calves as the weather is changing and they are meeting the challenge of weaning, transport or housing in these colder temperatures - they need to be prepared for these challenges.
Jim Black, Montober road, Cookstown, buys suckled calves to finish as forward stores. The SureCalves ® he bought at Enniskillen are thriving well and will be sold next September at 550 to 600 kilos. He admits that the SureCalves ® cost maybe £30 to £50 more per head but felt that it was worth the extra money in order to get calves that can thrive in spite of the challenges of weaning, travelling and mixing with other calves at the sale.
Also buying SureCalves ® at Enniskillen Mart was Sharman Dougan from Red Rock Road, Collone, in Co.Armagh and he too, will finish them as forward stores next year. He bought SureCalves ® last year and decided to purchase them again this year in order to procure calves that will thrive from the day they arrive.
Commenting on the success of the SureCalf ® program, Aurelie Moralis, Veterinary Consultant with Zoetis said: “It is a program that will take time to grow as buyers experience the benefits and are prepared to reward the seller adequately. This has been our experience in Scotland – the programme started slowly and expanded as buyers experienced the benefits and sellers were rewarded for their participation.”
Aurelie went on to say that the procedure for the program is very simple. The information required are the name and address of the seller, number and breed of calves, dates of birth of the calves, numbers being sold, the date of vaccination and the batch number of the vaccines used, plus the name of their veterinary practice and date and venue of intended sale. They will then receive personalised SureCalf ® certificates, with these details. On the day of sale the seller provides the buyer with this signed certificate showing compliance with the SureCalf ® programme. The seller will also receive blue ear tags which can be inserted in the calf’s ear and cards for the calf pens, thus identifying the vaccinated calves for the buyers.
Calves registered as SureCalf ® Duo must be over 10 weeks of age, and are vaccinated one to three weeks prior to the sale with a single intranasal dose of Rispoval ® IntraNasal (against BRSv and Pi3v) and a single intranasal dose of Tracherine ® (against IBR). The buyer benefits from up to six months ongoing cover against IBR and up to three months ongoing cover against BRSv and Pi3v ensuring protection going into the winter housing period.