12 June 1998

SACthrows hat in ring with another cattle health plan

By Allan Wright

THE Scottish Agricultural College has launched a cattle health scheme in direct competition to Cattle Health 2000 run by Bloxham Laboratories of Devon. The diseases covered and the approximate costs are the same.

Bloxham won the MAFF contract when the Ministry privatised its farm livestock health monitoring programme at the end of 1995. The SAC won the contract to run the sheep and goat health scheme, but now wants to compete for the cattle work.

Launched at Beef 98 last Friday at Bulbuthie Farm, Fife, the SAC Premium Health Scheme will operate initially in Scotland. "But we want to move quickly to cover the whole country," said George Caldow, who will manage the scheme.

It will be marketed in England and Wales through Signet, the advisory body run by SAC and MLC. Headquarters for both SAC cattle and sheep health schemes will be Inverness.

The cattle diseases covered will be Johnes, bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), and infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR). "These are the three most important infectious diseases of cattle and we aim to eliminate them from cattle herds, identify herds which are free of the diseases and provide breeding cattle of certified health status. It will also aim to prevent the introduction of these diseases to herds which are clear," said Mr Caldow.

The scheme will operate as a partnership between herd owner, his vet and SAC vets who would work together to draw up a testing and management programme specific to the needs of an individual herd.

"By following the programme, the individual herds objectives will be met. That may be demonstrating freedom from any of the diseases or controlling and eradicating the selected disease," he said.

First year cost

First year membership will cost £100 for one disease, £115 for two, and £125 for testing and monitoring of all three. Membership in subsequent years is £50, £65, and £75 respectively. There are various charges for blood and microbiological tests in the laboratory.

The membership fee includes veterinary consultancy from SAC, administration and production of certificates, licensing of shows and sales, and national promotion of the scheme.