Radical improvements are needed to secure better cattle health and and welfare, says the first state-of-the-nation report into the sector.

The industry and government must “get its act together” to provide better data that will help improve welfare and productivity, says the document.

The report on cattle health and welfare in Great Britain was launched at the Livestock 2012 event at the Birmingham NEC on Tuesday (4 September).

Published by the industry’s Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG), the document provides a snapshot of health and welfare in both dairy and beef sectors.

CHAWG chairman Tim Brigstocke said it heralded significant progress in establishing a baseline for the cattle industry, but highlighted a number of urgent issues.

Advancements in herd health planning and breeding goals, as well as measures to control Johne’s disease and mastitis, had resulted in tangible improvements to animal health in recent years.

But there were many areas which needed improvement – including mortality in youngstock and lameness in dairy cattle.

“Data remains the main hurdle to us moving forward as quickly as we’d like, and is the main reason this report has been so long in coming,” said Mr Brigstocke.

“There are large gaps in availability and consistency of current and geographical data across GB, and there is considerably more information available for dairy cattle than for beef herds.”

Private companies operating in the industry could pool information pre-competitively, said Mr Brigstocke.

Sources of data on health and welfare could include the Cattle Tracing System of the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) and the National Fallen Stock Company.

Abattoir data collected by what was the Meat Hygiene Service – now part of the Food Standards Agency – could also be useful.

“We need to resolve this issue over data; until we do so, the industry will struggle to confidently quantify both levels of challenge and improvements in performance.”

The report is available to download from www.chawg.org.uk, via the EBLEX website.

For more on this topic

Top 10 cattle health and welfare concerns

See our Livestock 2012 page

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