Here are a number of tips which you could follow before you purchase:
- Heifers (pregnant or maiden) are less of a risk of being disease carriers than mature cows – this applies to both viruses and bacteria.
- Don’t buy any animal the week before you need them. Aim for buying at least one month before you need to introduce them to the main herd, to ensure the animal establishes
- Think about the timing of buying-in. However it is understandable that this cannot be done in all cases. It just depends on the requirements and circumstances of the farmer. It is preferable to buy multiple animals from a single source rather than single animals from multiple sources.
- At what times are there the most susceptible animals (pregnant heifers, newborn calves, etc) in your herd? Avoid buying-in at these times.
Ask the seller questions about the health of the animal.
- What vaccines (if any) have been administered?
- When were they given?
- Does the herd of origin have a BVD/IBR/Johnes health management programme in place? Is there any certification of such?
- Remember cattle can pick up disease during transport from one clean farm to another clean farm.
The following advice has been provided by Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine:
Operating a true quarantine requires huge commitment and effort. Ideally separate housing, feeding, and calving areas should be used for “home” versus “quarantined” cattle. However an absolute minimum, to make any meaningful difference, is that contact between the two groups of cattle is prevented.
Your quarantine area is for newly-introduced stock and should NOT be your sick bay for other stock. Both should be kept well separated from each other and the main breeding herd.
- Pay particular attention to keeping your breeding herd separate from the quarantine. You, and only you, can protect them.
- Talk to your vet about how best to implement a workable quarantine on your farm.
- Cattle should be quarantined for at least one month before you introduce them to the main herd.
- Quarantine all animals returning from shows, marts, and sales.
- Pregnant bought-in animals should remain separated from the main herd until BOTH the dam and calf have been tested as negative for BVD virus.
- All animals should be observed daily for any clinical signs of disease and any such evidence of disease should prompt immediate action. If in doubt, check their temperatures.
- For prevention of respiratory diseases, particularly in weanlings, “home “ and “ quarantined” cattle cannot share the same air space.
- Any manure or run-off from the isolated cattle cannot come into contact with any animals from the main herd.
- If lameness is a concern in your herd, use a foot-bath initially on bought-ins.
- Ideally aim for groups of animals to enter and leave quarantine all at once.
- Buying and adding cattle in dribs and drabs becomes impossible to manage.
- Adopt an all-in, all-out policy.
- Always milk, feed and muck out bought-in, quarantined cattle after the main herd.
- Disinfect all boots in foot-baths after leaving the quarantine.
- It makes sense to treat for internal (worms, fluke) and external (lice, ringworm) parasites now. This is also a good time for vaccination and to allow adjustment to any new feeding regime.