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Think outside the box: health planning for your livestock

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Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) promotes the Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork brands in the UK and abroad. QMS also delivers a range of activities aimed to promote, support, develop and protect the Scottish red meat industry.  QMS’ quality assurance schemes – which make animal welfare a priority -  cover more than 90% of livestock farmed for red meat in Scotland.

Find out more at or follow QMS on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Perhaps, for some, the health plan is considered a tick-box exercise. However, it’s actually a vital tool to help farmers evidence continual improvement.

In this era of change, where consumers and retailers are thinking about big issues like climate change, antibiotic resistance and animal welfare, a robust health plan allows you to demonstrate your commitment to principles of sustainability, stewardship, and a good quality of life for your stock.

There are lots of ways to create your plan, but QMS are delighted to support a new approach which is being developed by a team at SRUC: dynamic health planning.

Put simply, this involves setting yourself a target, regularly horizon-scanning for potential obstacles to achieving it, and then reviewing things to determine whether you achieved your goal.

This method keeps you one step ahead of potential pitfalls and, while it can take a bit of a mindset shift to embrace the (sometimes uncomfortable) examination of things that went wrong, it is much more meaningful than a forgotten document. Importantly, it should be of immediate value to you as the keeper.

Health planning is an integral part of a resilient and profitable farm business. To read a vet’s perspective on it, see: How do we make herd/flock health management sexy? by Andy Cant, Director of Northvet Veterinary Group in Orkney.