HEALTH PLANNING is designed to reduce losses from disease and substantial cost, so why are just 1% of UK cattle herds members of a certified health scheme?

Disease represents a huge cost to the UK industry and in a world without subsidy, reducing disease represents an opportunity for herds to remain profitable, North Yorks vet Jonathan Statham told conference delegates.

“By implementing changes to management and environment, using vaccines where appropriate to reduce disease costs and by preventing entry of major single agent infections through health planning, producers can reduce disease and cost.

“But losses must be identified before they can be reduced, added Mr Statham. “Records don’t have to be hi-tech or expensive. Some basic data can provide a wealth of information on herd performance.

” He advises weighing calves and plotting growth graphs as well as recording reproduction results, culls/deaths, specific health problems and medicines used.

Once problems are identified, he said a vet-producer partnership can implement change to improve performance. This could include adopting all in-all out systems for housing youngstock in calf rearing enterprises or modifying the environment by adapting existing housing.

Vaccination policies may also be initiated, following appropriate diagnostic tests. And when disease cannot be completely prevented, effective treatment protocols should be implemented, he added.