The number of E-coli mastitis cases on dairy farmers has doubled this spring compared to the same period last year, according to a Co. Limerick-based vet.

Edwin Murphy, a veterinary with Adare Veterinary Clinic, said that it has been an early spring as most of the better dairy farms in his practice have 66% of their cows calved.

However, earlier calving and not being able to get cows out to grass has caused some serious issues with mastitis.

The practice, which covers about 10,000 dairy cows on an annual basis, has seen a high rate of call outs to deal with cows suffering from mastitis.

But, the number of really severe cases are beginning to drop as farmers take advantage of the dry weather to get their cows out to grass, he said.

Delayed turn out is having a negative impact on the health of both beef and dairy herds in Co. Meath, according to Veterinary Surgeon Frank O’Sullivan of the Patrick Farrelly and Partners Veterinary Practice.

The number of cows treated for mastitis in the first two months of 2016 has jumped by 5% on the same time in 2015, he said, with the longer housing period creating problems on farm.

“It is difficult to get animals out to grass and we are starting to see some overcrowding of calving facilities.

The bugs are having a field day and calves are presenting with increased levels of diarrohea, older calves are experiencing cases of respiratory disease and pneumonia.

O’Sullivan said there has been a 10% increase in both beef and dairy calves presenting with scour.

Furthermore, Mountbellew-based vet Conor Geraghty said there is potential for increased calf mortality in dairy herds this spring.

Geraghty said that mortality could become a major issue on dairy herds which have expanded heavily, as the calving facilities may not be adequate for the extra numbers.

There was a lot of investment on dairy farms, but calf houses generally weren’t touched.

Geraghty, of the Geraghty and Neary Veterinary Clinic in Mountbellew said that limited calf housing really becomes a problem if the herd goes down with TB.