Clipping Cattle – A Worthwhile Job Or An Unnecessary Task?

As winter housing of cattle gets underway on beef farms across the country, farmers will have a new set of management tasks to be completed and the daily work routine begins to change on the farm.

One of these management tasks with cattle being housed for the duration of the winter on many farms is the clipping of hair on their backs.

While some farmers choose not to clip the backs of their cattle at housing, many farmers will ritually clip them when going into the shed and would say it improves animal comfort and performance.

When clipping cattle, farmers should start with one run of the clipper along the base of the animal’s spine, with a further one or two runs either side to complete a full clipping of the topline.

It’s important that clipper’s are maintained and oiled before use and blades are sharpened if necessary.

It is also recommended to clip any hair on the animals tail also to avoid dirt building up on it and help keep the animal clean.

Benefits of clipping cattle

As cattle are housed, it can result in humid and high temperatures being created within a shed and cattle’s coats to grow thick and long as a result of decreased access to UV sunlight.

By clipping the backs of the animal, it allows excess heat to leave the animal’s body and cool down more effectively – which helps reduce the risk of the animal contracting pneumonia.

Clipping cattle will also help improve growth rates and daily liveweight performance as the animal is more comfortable and is better fit to regulate its body temperature.

From a herd-health perspective, it allows for the effective management of external parasites. By clipping the hair on the top of the animal, it removes the shelter area for lice to hide.

If using a pour-on dose to treat lice, ideally and practically it should be completed after the animals have been clipped, as this will allow for a close skin-contact treatment.

For cows calving in early 2022, by clipping their hair, it will ensure that dung will not gather on their tails causing udders to get dirty pre-calving.

(Source – Agriland – Breifne O’Brien – 15/10/2021)

Beef Farmers: 4 Parasites To Be Conscious Of At Housing

Beef farmers are being reminded that there are at least four major parasites in beef cattle that need to be addressed at housing.

A high burden of parasites in beef animals can significantly hinder performance and, if left unaddressed, can negatively impact animal health and welfare.

Farmers in many parts of the country have already begun housing livestock for the winter while in other areas, preparations are being made to start doing so.

Failure to control parasites in beef cattle at housing could see significant production losses from reduced weight gain, fertility issues, irreversible lung damage, increased susceptibility to disease and even death, according to Responsible Animal Medicines Advisor (RAMA) Mark Pass from Beeston Animal Health.

The four major parasites farmers need to be conscious of at housing are:

  • Gutworms, (particularly Ostertagia);
  • Lungworm;
  • Fluke;
  • Lice.

“At housing, you are bringing together animals and placing them in close proximity with shared airspace, which aids disease transmission. It can also be a stressful time due to the change in housing, diet and mixing of groups.

“Managing parasites now, eases the pressure on stock and helps ensure they are as productive as they can be,” he outlined.

When it comes to treatment, farmers should consult their vet to identify the best options available.

Where farmers are unsure if gut worms are a problem in their cattle, the best advice is to take a dung sample and get it analysed to identify the worm burden in cattle; however, it is important to remember a dung sample will not identify if a lung worm issue is present in an animal.

Where fluke is an issue, farmers should be conscious that some products may only treat adult fluke and so should plan their treatment date to ensure the highest possible kill of the targeted parasite.

With a lice treatment, all cattle in a shed should be treated as lice can jump from pen to pen and will spread to untreated groups of cattle in a shed.

As well as parasites to contend with, farmers should be conscious of other setbacks which may have to be contended with in cattle at housing also.

Pneumonia is one of the major ones and farmers should consider implementing a vaccination programme for youngstock in particular, at housing.

(Source – Agriland – Breifne O’Brien – 14/10/2021)

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Rural Enterprise Skillnet
Rural Enterprise Skillnet

The Rural Enterprise Skillnet is funded by member companies and the Training Networks Programme, an initiative of Skillnets Ltd. funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills.

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