Animal Health Ireland, Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture in conjunction with Slaney Foods International, recently invited farmers to attend an animal health awareness event on the farm of Mark & Loftus Symes, Leskinfere, Gorey, Co. Wexford.

Mark is a store finisher of predominantly continental grass-fed steers. With an average carcase weight of 384kg in steers, 335kg in heifers and a residency period of 124 days there is no room for error on the Symes farm. Animal well-being and health checks to ensure optimum animal performance, is of major importance.

The main aim of this event was to highlight the importance of good animal health, discuss the most predominant animal health issues at housing time and create awareness around responsible use of antibiotics on beef farms.
After an introductory message from James Doran (Teagasc) and Denis Brennan (Slaney Foods), the group of over 180 farmers attending this event, were divided into 4 groups.

Caroline Garvan, Veterinary Inspector with the Department of Agriculture spoke about Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). She discussed the importance of disease prevention measures, and stressed that farmers should only use antibiotics on foot of veterinary advice. Her final message was “Reflect before you inject and ensure Right Animal – Right Drug – Right Dose – Right Duration. AMR is a concern for you, your animals, your family and your community”.

Caroline Garvan Department of Agriculture
Next to speak was Rebecca Carroll Programme Manager at Animal Health Ireland. In recent years, information on animal health relating for example to, Pneumonia, Liver Fluke and Liver Abscesses as well as other health issues such as Timber Tongue, is recorded by veterinary surgeons at Slaney Foods on the day of processing. This information is then printed on a Beef Health Check sheet which is given to the farmer. Rebecca explained to farmers how to interpret this information and also explained how they can address problems which are occurring on their farm using this information.

Attendees then listened to Veterinary Surgeon Tommy Heffernan from Avondale Veterinary speaking about weanling pneumonia and how through animal management, careful purchasing and operating a thorough vaccination programme farmers can greatly reduce pneumonia during the first winter housing period.

Tommy Heffernan Avondale Veterinary
Finally Michael Bergin Veterinary Surgeon with Ballyragget Veterinary, spoke about the effects of parasites on animal performance and their significance to both the farmer and the animal. Michael outlined the most effective ways of controlling parasites such as liver fluke, lungworm, lice and gut worms. He emphasised the need to use a combination of dung sampling and medical intervention when treating animals to prevent anthelmintic resistance on farms.

On a final note, Slaney Foods International would like to thank everyone who was involved in organising the event, the farmers who attended and the Symes family for agreeing to host this informative event on their farm.

on the farm
Photo L to R: Bob Sherriff Teagasc, Pierce Kelly Teagasc, Mark Symes, Alison Kenny, Loftus Symes, Rebecca Carroll AHI, Michael Bergin Ballyragget Veterinary, Tommy Heffernan Avondale Veterinary, Grainne Dwyer AHI, Denis Brennan Slaney Foods and James Doran Teagasc