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Neonatal calves at risk of lowered immunity, diet study suggests
Researchers found that only a third (34 per cent) of calves achieved adequate colostrum status.
Small pilot study finds 13 per cent of calves in danger of FPT

New research suggests neonatal calves may be at risk of lowered immunity due to poor absorption of colostral antibodies.

Researchers from Moredun and Norvite explored the relationship between diet and neonatal calf health on eight farms.

Previous research by University College Dublin has shown over-supplementation of iodine in ewes during the pre-lambing period can cause failure of passive transfer (FTP) of colostral antibodies in newborn lambs, with detrimental effects for their immunity. However, this had not yet been demonstrated in calves.

Moredun and Norvite researchers carried out a survey of iodine supplementation on farms from Orkney to Lanarkshire. They found large variations between farms in the contribution of forage to iodine intake, highlighting the importance of farms carrying out annual forage analysis before consulting a nutritionist on mineral supplementation.

Colostrum uptake was estimated in a sample of 70 calves using zinc sulphate turbidity (ZST). Researchers found that only a third (34 per cent) of calves achieved adequate colostrum status (ZST level of 20+), while 13 per cent were in the danger zone for complete FPT (ZST <5).

According to the findings, farm six, which had the highest iodine levels, had the lowest mean ZST levels and had a history of neonatal calf disease. Meanwhile, farm seven, which had the lowest iodine levels, had the highest mean ZST and was the only farm to have no calves in the FPT danger zone.

Farmers struggling with neonatal calf disease were urged to speak to their vet about checking antibody absorption in a selection of calves under a week old this spring, and to contact a nutritionist to carry out forage analysis and mineral budget for the in-calf cows for the following year.

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Hen charity starts work on first rehoming centre

News Story 1
 The British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) has begun work on its first hen welfare and education centre. Located in north Devon, the 250 square metre building will comprise a state-of-the-art rehoming centre and fully equipped veterinary clinic.

Image © Guy Harrop  

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Former RCVS president to chair new Horse Welfare Board

Former RCVS president Barry Johnson has been appointed as the independent chair of a new Horse Welfare Board. Barry, who is also past chairman of World Horse Welfare, was selected by an industry panel including the British Horseracing Authority, the Racecourse Association and The Horsemenís Group.

The welfare board aims to develop a new welfare strategy covering the whole racing industry. Mr Johnson said: ďIím very pleased to have been asked by racing to take on this role and by the sportís commitment to continuous improvement in the welfare of racehorses."