21 June 2002

Most dairy vet call outs for cures

USE of vets on dairy farms is usually to cure disease rather than prevent it, with only one in five producers employing vets routinely.

In a survey of 14,175 producers, conducted by the National Farm Research Unit (NFRU), more than 81% say that vet use is limited to specific call outs and problems. Those producers who did have a routine programme of vet visits tended to have larger herds in the south and east.

Producers with regular vet visits also tended to have full time herd staff and pedigree herds, says Mike Heisig of NFRU.

The number of available vets/cow in different regions also has an impact on the regular use of vets. Where fewer vets are available/head of dairy cows, use tends to be more ad hoc.

But lack of a routine vet plan does not necessarily mean herd health will suffer, believes Jan Rowe, vice chairman of the NFUs national animal health and welfare committee.

"It is likely to be to do with herd management; with seasonal breeding there will be peaks and troughs of vet need. With the increasing specialisation of farms, staff are becoming more aware of vet problems and their knowledge is increasing. This, together with the range of vaccines available, means producers are more able to manage herd health themselves."

Ultimately, herd managers should use vets often enough to ensure good herd health and producers should not try to do everything themselves, suggests Mr Rowe. &#42