Following a planned approach to herd health can provide real financial benefits for the farm and lead to advances in the health and welfare of livestock, said Matt Dobbs of Westpoint Vet Services.

When dealing with intangibles, such as the impact of a disease at herd level or the management of fertility, in a market where the value of an individual animal does not necessarily warrant individual attention, investing in herd health planning may not seem a high priority.

“But the BCVA cost calculator, developed to help vets and farmers address these types of issues, demonstrates the financial benefit of controlling disease.”

The previous vet role of ill-health management provides little opportunity for vets to add value to the farming operation, despite being highly regarded.

“The planned approached to good health management should include assisting the farm to embrace developments in technology and animal husbandry, promoting preventative rather than reactive medicine and encouraging farmers to develop expertise through education.”

Health management must incorporate surveillance, risk assessment, risk management and monitoring, he said.

“We must discover what problems exist, assess which pose most risk, create practical ways of reducing problems and measure results by reviewing control strategies.”