Know How / Health and welfare

Animal health is critical to all producers of dairy and beef cattle, sheep and pigs. Get advice on dealing with livestock diseases such as, bovine TB and mastitis, and conditions such as heat stress, lameness and ewe prolapse. See best practice on vaccination, medicines and reducing antibiotics.

Case studies


How changes to ventilation and bedding cut mastitis

For dairy farmer Pete Charles, a key driver in tackling mastitis was the effect on staff morale of constantly treating clinical cases and keeping milk out of the tank. He…


How a spring-block herd tackled heifer mastitis

Outwintering heifers to reduce pressure on housing led to a spike in clinical mastitis and herd cell counts peaking near 450,000 cells/ml for a spring block-calving herd in Cumbria. In…


Brothers seek £73/ha profit lift with less output

Sheep are making way for suckler cows to minimise winter feed requirements and pay the mortgage on an organic grassland farm. The alteration is one of several Graham and Michael…


How an Irish farmer keeps his spring-calving system on track

An Irish Olympic race walker has used sports psychology to help him expand a simple spring-block system and keep it running profitably. We finds out more about spring block-calver Jamie…


How adviser's dairy foot health focus improved milk yields

Veterinary lameness expert Sara Pedersen is seeing real progress in improving the foot heath of the nation’s dairy herds, a problem that is estimated by the Royal Veterinary College to…


How cobalt deficiency tests led to higher lamb weights

A split trial on a Dorset farm highlighted a 3.52kg uplift in weight gain and reduced susceptibility to worms in lambs supplemented for cobalt deficiency. The result of the trial,…

Practical advice

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Benefits of a mentored team approach to lameness control

Lameness is estimated to cost the dairy industry £250m/year through impaired fertility, reduced production, premature culls, and treatment costs. The average cost a day of lameness for all lame cows…


How to use and go beyond worm egg counts

Gut worms are one of the most significant challenges to the health and production of grazed livestock – particularly sheep. Over the past century, drenches and injectable wormers have proved…


Advice on how to avoid heat stress in calves

Although heat stress is more common in adult cows, calves can suffer in a hot summer too. Following a few simple rules will help protect health and performance. Calves have…


Advice on using water vaccination for broilers and layers

Vaccination remains one of the tried and tested ways to reduce the risk of production losses in flocks from rising disease challenges. Pathogens can have a devastating impact on farms,…


How to plan and prepare for African swine fever

Pig producers are advised to double down on biosecurity and be as prepared as possible for the possibility of African swine fever crossing the Channel. The first case of African…


What are the most common causes of mastitis in UK herds?

The easiest wins for improving udder health often come from changing milking machine settings – even though improvements may take some time to occur. The tougher ones are those aimed…



Could the pig industry survive African swine fever?

As the largest animal disease outbreak ever recorded, African swine fever (ASF) poses a real threat to our domestic pig industry. How ready is the UK for a potential incursion?…


Pig tech promises 5-day advantage detecting coughs

A listening device that monitors coughing in pigs can alert the producer to the onset of respiratory disease up to five days earlier than farm personnel. SoundTalks, launched across the…


Irish trial shows benefits of microbes for piglet gut health

Feeding piglets microbes from birth to support gut health can reduce scours, lower routine antibiotics use and improve average daily gain, research carried out at a commercial pig farm in…


Q&A: All you need to know about bluetongue disease

With bluetongue disease on the increase again in mainland Europe and with midge activity expected to gather pace as the weather warms up, Farmers Weekly spoke to Defra deputy chief…


Analysis: What a live exports ban means for farmers

A ban on the live export of animals for slaughter and fattening from Great Britain could be introduced in just a few months as part of a manifesto commitment by…


Excess copper found to impair liver function in heifers

Feeding excess copper to dairy heifer calves can compromise liver function, leading to poorer fertility and lower milk yields in first lactation. This is according to AHDB-funded research at Harper…


Are milk fever and negative energy balance under control?

Milk fever and negative energy balance are issues for many dairy herds, despite most dairy farmers recognising the importance of the dry period to cow health and productivity. According to…


Why simple, relevant data is focus of cow behaviour research

Business lore says that what gets measured can be managed or improved. Yet dairy farmers are at risk of being overloaded with information now that cow tracking technology can record…


6 livestock tech developments to look out for

From driverless tractors to cameras for identifying diseases, several high-tech innovations are coming down the track. Farmers Weekly looks at six highlights. See also: NI farm transforms slurry and food…


How local TB programmes are ‘giving farmers back control’

Local TB programmes working in collaboration with farmers, vets and Animal and Plant Healthy Agency (Apha) staff are having a positive effect in helping farmers take control of the disease.…


Why avian flu vaccine rollout would cost £1.5k/shed a month

Vaccinating UK poultry flocks for avian influenza has been described as “cost prohibitive” because an EU surveillance requirement for swabbing and testing would set producers back £1,000-£1,500/month for every shed…


4 ways to improve on 60-day calf mortality rate

Healthy calves can achieve growth rates of 1,080g/day, but just one day of diarrhoea reduces this by 80g. A calf with respiratory disease will lose 180g/day off its growth rate…

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