Know How / Dairy / Health and welfare

Good health and welfare is an essential feature of dairy herd management. Read up-to-date information on major welfare issues and diseases affecting dairy animals including infectious disease such as bovine TB and BVD, respiratory disease, mastitis, lameness and keep up to date with the latest welfare requirements.

Case studies


How a dairy farm is using a straw dryer to reduce waste

Farmer Jonny Wyatt is using waste heat from the anaerobic digester (AD) plant on his mixed farm near Thetford, Norfolk, to dry out-of-spec straw to make drier bedding for his…


4 ways a robotic dairy got mastitis under control

Mastitis can lead to serious issues with milk quality and result in the suspension of milk contracts, but the problem can be tackled successfully. Vet Ellie Button explains how one…


Three-times-a-day switch improves yields by 2,000 litres/cow

When the George family increased milking frequency they realised an uplift in milk yield of 2,000 litres a cow. As pedigree Holsteins, the cows were already high yielding, producing an…


How finishing beef adds value to dairy business

The Mallett family decided to invest £100,000 in a shed to rear and finish beef bulls and heifers from their high-yielding dairy herd while they were locked up with TB.…


How a farmer uses antibiotics on just 10% of herd at dry-off

Exceptional mastitis controls and an overall infection rate of just 7.8 cases for every 100 cows is allowing one Pembrokeshire farm to use antibiotics on just 10% of the herd…


Dairy's chemical-free disinfectant delivers multiple benefits

A dairy farm in Norfolk has replaced chemical disinfectants with a system using only water and low-voltage electricity. This has helped reduce the farm’s carbon footprint, improved cow health, delivered…

Practical advice

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5 ways to improve dairy milking routines

Good routines will set up milking for success in the key areas of hygiene, mastitis detection, herd throughput and, arguably the most important, milk flow rates. Together they will improve…


How spring-calvers can prepare for end of bull calf euthanasia

Producing a viable dairy bull calf is a challenge in a system that relies on an efficient cow of smaller stature to maximise milk production from grazed grass on the…


4 ways to further improve herd fertility

Many farmers could make big improvements to the fertility of their herds by paying greater attention to dry cow management, stable nutrition and routine vet visits. According to vet Graeme…


5 ways to build on improvements in udder health

Improved environmental management, protocols and breeding for udder health have combined to help lower mastitis rates and antibiotics use. However, farmers could make bigger strides with improved recording of mastitis…


Foul-in-the-foot in cattle: Treatment and prevention

Foul-in-the-foot is a bacterial infection found between the digits in cattle and can cause severe lameness.  It affects the tissues under the skin in this area, causing severe pain, swelling…


Pros and cons of different mastitis tests for dairy cows

Mastitis is one of the most prevalent health issues on UK dairy farms – estimated to cost the industry more than £170m/year. Catching cases early is critical to minimise animal…



Video: Fluke video gives powerful insight into parasite

A video documenting the different stages of the harmful liver fluke parasite has been made to help farmers understand its complex life cycle. The video (below) shows the liver fluke…


Best dairy bedding for minimising mastitis-causing bacterium

A study carried out at the University of Nottingham has shown sawdust to be the best bedding for minimising the survival of the mastitis-causing pathogen streptococcus uberis (S. uberis.) S.…


Guidance on mastitis recovery rates helps aid treatment plans

A new model developed by Quality Milk Management Services (QMMS) could help farmers better understand the probability of individual cows recovering from a case of clinical mastitis, therefore guiding better…


Vet survey reveals serious challenges ahead for profession

Poor retention and recruitment rates, Brexit and dissatisfaction in the industry could see a shortage of farm vets in the future if action isn’t taken.  Farmers Weekly carried out a…


4 farmers’ badger-proofing inventions help cut TB risk

Inventive farmers are mitigating the risk of bovine TB spreading from badgers to their dairy and beef cattle by devising their own obstacles to wildlife incursions. Some of the winners…


Next phase in Defra bovine TB strategy explained

After months in the making, the government has launched its latest consultation (PDF) on the next stages of its strategy to eradicate bovine TB in England by 2038. The eight-week…


How genomic testing of heifers can improve profitability

Genomic testing replacement heifers has a cost benefit of £19.39 a heifer, according to a three-year study involving nine Welsh dairy farms. The project compared the difference between estimated breeding…


CMT could cut dry-cow antibiotics use by half, study shows

Using the Californian Mastitis Test (CMT) at drying off could help cut antibiotics use by 50% without impacting clinical mastitis, a study has found. In the first large-scale investigation to…


Parasite project helps dairy farm to improve worm control

A Ceredigion dairy farm is revising worming protocols for its replacement heifers after a parasite control research project detected early stage resistance to clear wormers.   The Jenkins family, who milk…


BVD vaccination can lift milk yields, trial shows

Vaccinating dairy cows against the bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) virus can lift milk yields by up to 1 litre/day, a recent global study has shown. A total of 1,463 cows…


UK bovine TB rules, penalties and incentives

Defra has introduced more rigorous, evidenced-based bovine TB testing regimes for cattle this autumn, backed by tougher penalties and incentives to encourage farmers to improve biosecurity. While the number of…


How successful has the Welsh Cymorth TB scheme been?

Five years ago, the Welsh government challenged farmers to take control of TB herd breakdowns by improving their on-farm biosecurity. To encourage the improvements, it set up a scheme that…

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