Better farm health planning could be the key to boosting returns, as figures on disease loss rates are released by EBLEX.

Estimates show pneumonia could cost as much as £82 a calf. Over a 10-year period Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is estimated to cost £46 per animal each year.

EBLEX Beef Better Returns Programme has published a four point plan to aid the planning and to cut costs from disease.

Step 1 – Up to date performance records

Simple farm records (see below) are essential in order to make comparisons with previous on farm performance. Recording this basic data could help target potential problems.

– Reproduction rates (e.g. calf losses, calving spread, pregnancy rate)

– Growth rates

– Kg of beef sold per animal or per hectare each year

– Losses (number of deaths and culls)

– Health problems and medicinal records

Step 2 – Small steps to help aid performance

Small changes to specific management practices and environmental conditions could be crucial to improving your herd’s health. Areas to consider are

– batch calving

– all-in-all-out policies

– stocking density in buildings and on pasture

– Ventilation

– Bedding conditions and drainage systems

– Storage of bedding straw to prevent contamination

– Implementation of effective treatment protocols e.g. antibiotic therapy for pneumonia cases, vaccination and parasite control.

Step 3 Biosecurity

– Knowing the health status of your herd and of any animals bought in.

– Keep animals secure from neighbouring animals or stray stock.

– Prevent shared grazing

Step 4 Measure success

Regular herd health reviews with a local vet will aid the herd health planning process, continuously improving it.