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Irish Limousin Cattle Society, Kilglass, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork

T:+353 (0)25 85036 F:+353 (0)25 85060 Twitter: @irishlimousin



About Limousin

Herd Health




Sire Catalogue

Live Herdbook






Herd Health Programme for Limousin Breeders with Doreen Corridan MVB MRCVS PhD, Munster Herd Health

Why Have a Health Programme?

  • Insurance Policy for your own Herd
  • Quality Assurance for your customers
  • Guarantee your Market
  • Competitors (UK & NI) have one
  • Bulls available for AI/Tully

Pedigree breeders need to produce animals that are of a high genetic status and also of a high health status. It is no longer acceptable for herd-owners to introduce disease into their herds by purchasing a pedigree bull or heifer. Each herd needs to have its own programme firstly as an insurance policy to protect its investment in genetics and secondly to be able to market bulls, heifers, embryos and semen. UK and Northern Irish breeders are at varying stages in their health programmes, with details of their herd status being published in bull sale catalogues e.g. Carlisle and in their promotional material. The UK and the Northern Ireland market is an important market for us. Animal health Ireland has been launched with the aim of raising awareness of the costs of disease on farms and to coordinate approaches to improve our health status. The Better Farming Group – the joint initiative between Teagasc and the Irish Farmers Journal have begun health Programmes on commercial farms.

Steps involved in a Successful Health Programme

  • Planning
  • Establish Current status
  • Status Established, Eradicate & Vaccinate
  • Control; BioSecurity & Purchase Policy
  • Ongoing Monitoring
  • What are the Minimum Requirements?
  • Herd Tested Free of Johne’s
  • Animals sold BVD virus free/BVD Vaccinated
  • Leptospirosis Vaccinated

The minimum requirements are that are to have a herd tested free of Johne’s and to sell animals that are free of the BVD virus. It is important to remember that Johne’s is an entire herd issue; a negative test on an individual animal is of little value. Secondly it is also preferable to have animals for sale that are vaccinated for BVD and Leptospirosis as these may be entering herds that are infected with BVD and Leptospirosis, if vaccinated they will be immune and will not succumb to exposure. This is especially true of breeding bulls and in calf heifers. Vaccination will result in fewer bulls returned for infertility and incalf heifers that are less likely to abort and are more likely to produce a live healthy calf.

Additional Requirements?

  • Neospora free
  • Salmonella free/Salmonella Vaccinated
  • Digital Dermatitis free
  • IBR

IBR is an issue especially if you wish to enter bulls into AI or Tully. Also, more dairy herds are experiencing problems with milk drop and infertility. Depending on your herd size, current rate of infection and if you wish to continue showing cattle the easiest route to ensure that your selected bull is free from IBR and that you are selling animals with a lower risk of spreading the virus, is to vaccinate all the animals on your farm every six months with the IBR marker vaccine intramuscularly except the ones you choose for AI or Tully. It will also help if you prevent other forms of respiratory disease by ensuring good ventilation indoors, vaccinating calves against RSV, PI3 and pasturella, dosing calves at grass for hoose and a stress free weaning process.

Neospora and digital dermatitis are increasing and care needs to be taken not to introduce them into your herd.

Where Do I Begin?

  • Establish Current status
  • Status Established Eradicate & Vaccinate
  • Control; BioSecurity & Purchase Policy
  • Ongoing Monitoring

How Do I Establish Current Status?

Firstly your vet can do a risk analysis on your herd; he/she will know the history and also can rely on historic lab records.Johne’s: blood sample the entire herd over 2 years (entire means entire Pedigree & Commercial) to establish Johne’s status a portion of these can be used for leptospirosis and salmonella status. BVD: blood samples a group of approximately 10 unvaccinated weanlings; include some from each separately managed group to establish BVD & IBR. Late pregnancy animals are the best animals to establish neospora status.

Status Established – Eradicate Johne’s and BVD carriers. If some animals test positive for Johne’s?

  • Have a detailed Plan done out for your herd with a Vet who understands your management system.
  • Confirm positives either by repeated bloods, clinical examination or dung samples or history & ancestry. Once confirmed they need to be culled.
  • Cows that are positive but with good genetics can be isolated and flushed safely.
  • Isolate suspects.
  • Avoid milk, colostrum and dung from positives and suspects getting into contact with young calves and animals under 1 year old.
  • Embark on a programme of 6 Monthly Blood Tests.
  • Management changes in calf management – water troughs and slurry management.
  • Vaccinate for BVD as this lowers the immunity and allows Johne’s spread more easily.

BVD Virus Positive

  • If weanlings have positive BVD antibody and are not vaccinated they have been exposed to the virus.
  • Find the carrier animal (PI) by blood sampling or ear notching the entire herd or if certain of parentage, a number of adult animals can be deemed negative if they have a son or daughter tested negative.
  • Cull PI animals after two positive virus tests three weeks apart.
  • Begin a vaccination programme one month prior to the breeding season.

Status Established – Vaccinate

  • All herds selling pedigree stock should be vaccinating for BVD and Leptospirosis as a minimum.
  • This will not alone protect your herd from an outbreak and the resultant losses in abortion/early embryonic deaths/weak calves etc.
  • It will also ensure that the in calf heifers and bulls you sell into infected herds will perform in their new herds and not abort/stillbirth or go infertile for a period of 2-3 months respectively.
  • Consider the IBR marker vaccine if you have stock suitable for Tully or AI or if you wish to continue showing.
  • Use the marker vaccine intramuscularly in all animals except the bulls for AI or Tully.
  • It is a six monthly vaccine use it prior to peak times of spreading which are calving and weaning.

Control – BioSecurity/Purchase Policy:

No point in spending money on eradication & vaccination if disease is allowed to enter the herd continually. Animal movement into the herd and neighbouring stock are the biggest source of infection. Consider the following when purchasing bull/heifer/recipients.

  • It is much safer purchasing maiden heifers than incalf animals.
  • Purchase from a Johne’s free herd or blood and dung sample immediately repeat at 6 months and annually with the herd monitor thereafter.
  • Do a BVD virus test post movement on all animals entering the herd; do not forget to test the calf when born if the purchased animal was pregnant at the time of purchase.
  • Do a Neospora (Females only) test post movement repeat at the later stages of pregnancy as testing at this stage is more accurate.
  • Consider Salmonella.
  • Isolate until results are back at end of isolation check for signs of digital dermatitis.

Ongoing Monitoring

  • Herd performance Indicators
  • Annual Johne’s blood test
  • 5-10 weanlings for BVD & IBR

These programmes are specific to each herd depending on the system of production, purchasing policy, existing levels of infection and the number and profile of neighbouring herd-owners.

The future is elite genetics with a high herd health status.

Act now

  • Establish a herd health programme
  • Establish your status
  • Enter into an Eradication & Vaccination & BioSecurity Programme
  • Have a defined purchase policy
  • Continue Annual Monitoring



Irish Limousin - A History





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Fax: 353 (0)25-85060


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