Farm health planning: Top tips

Better farm health planning could be the key to boosting returns, as figures on disease loss rates are released by EBLEX.

Estimates show pneumonia could cost as much as £82 a calf. Over a 10-year period Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is estimated to cost £46 per animal each year.

EBLEX Beef Better Returns Programme has published a four point plan to aid the planning and to cut costs from disease.

Step 1 – Up to date performance records

Simple farm records (see below) are essential in order to make comparisons with previous on farm performance. Recording this basic data could help target potential problems.

– Reproduction rates (e.g. calf losses, calving spread, pregnancy rate)

– Growth rates

– Kg of beef sold per animal or per hectare each year

– Losses (number of deaths and culls)

– Health problems and medicinal records

Step 2 – Small steps to help aid performance

Small changes to specific management practices and environmental conditions could be crucial to improving your herd’s health. Areas to consider are

– batch calving

– all-in-all-out policies

– stocking density in buildings and on pasture

– Ventilation

– Bedding conditions and drainage systems

– Storage of bedding straw to prevent contamination

– Implementation of effective treatment protocols e.g. antibiotic therapy for pneumonia cases, vaccination and parasite control.

Step 3 Biosecurity

– Knowing the health status of your herd and of any animals bought in.

– Keep animals secure from neighbouring animals or stray stock.

– Prevent shared grazing

Step 4 Measure success

Regular herd health reviews with a local vet will aid the herd health planning process, continuously improving it.

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