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


Video: How a new parlour improved herd efficiency and health

Investment in a rotary parlour has helped a Devon dairy maximise efficiencies during milking of its 350-head Holstein Friesian herd, with milking time slashed by more than 50%, labour burdens…


How mineral blood test helps cut barren rates

Analysis of ewe bloods for minerals in late gestation prompted a change in supplementation that has cut barren rates from 5% to 1.6% for an Aultbea-based sheep breeder. Ryan MacLean…


Flock genetics beat challenges to hit 170% reared budget

Prolific flock genetics and skilful management have overcome setbacks to get a lowland sheep flock hitting budgets, three years after being established. Farm manager Ben Smith says the accounts at…


Benefits of training heifers to use the parlour

A snap poll by Farmers Weekly revealed that 52% of dairy farmers who responded, train their heifers through the parlour and 26% run a separate heifer group. Both results are…


Why two systems are running separate heifer milking groups

Milking heifers separately from cows has improved social cohesion and reduced bullying for a block-calving herd and an all-year-round setup at Sansaw Estate in Shropshire. This spring block-calving herd has…


How cattle on herbal leys have transformed Essex farm

A short video about grazing herbal leys sparked a complete change of direction for an Essex arable farm. Gone are the wheat, oilseed rape and potato crops, and in their…

Practical advice

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Advice on cleaning teats with enough let-down for milking

Medicated teat wipes and laundered udder cloths have revolutionised teat cleaning in the parlour. But convenience and quickness can sometimes overtake the need to allow sufficient let-down time before attaching…


Why it is important to optimise dairy cow lying times

Dairy cows’ lying behaviour is considered a sign of their wellbeing and comfort, with 12 hours a day often used as the benchmark. Yet lying times vary between individual cows…


Ways to reduce heat gain and promote heat loss

Monitoring cows for heat stress needs to start before the temperature humidity index kicks in, because this is a late-stage indicator, according to Dr Jennifer Van Os, assistant professor in…


Dairy teat care products: 6 things to consider

With a huge range of teat dips available, it can be difficult to know what the best choice is for your herd. Tom Greenham offers expert advice on how to…


What you need to know about Q fever in dairy herds

Dairy herds with sub-optimal fertility, unexplained abortions or weak calves are being advised to test for Q fever. Dubbed the “subtle disease”, it is now thought to be behind underlying…


Why regular foot-bathing strategies need to change

Routine foot-bathing should be part of a farm strategy for digital dermatitis, rather than viewed as the cure. Dr Laura Solano of Lactanet, Canada’s largest milk organisation, says dairy farmers…



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…


Sheep health: Government schemes and farmer priorities

Disease does not respect borders, so it is incumbent on the whole industry to take a strict stance towards protecting flock health. Sheep breeder and National Sheep Association (NSA) trustee…


Calf monitoring and health plans key to future performance

Some 90% of farmers want to make changes to improve the future sustainability of their youngstock management in the next 12 months, according to a Farmers Weekly exclusive survey. Yet…


Coccidiosis in broilers - what role will new vaccines play?

Research is under way at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) to develop cheaper vaccines that could be used more widely against coccidiosis in broilers. Current vaccines for the disease –…


Is England headed for healthy cattle and TB-free future?

Bovine TB is a devastating disease affecting cattle, causing significant trauma for livestock farmers and rural communities. It is the most challenging animal health disease the UK faces, costing taxpayers…


Survey reveals full impact of bovine TB on Welsh farmers

Bovine TB is continuing to put an immense financial and mental health strain on farmers in Wales, with the cost of the disease to each farm business averaging more than…


Can sheep be 'worm tolerant' and what are the implications?

Lambs most tolerant to worm burdens could have a 10-day weight gain advantage over less tolerant ones, a pilot study has shown. The study, Breeding for tolerance to worms for…


Why diverse forage mixtures could improve outwintering

Findings from a recent trial in Devon have concluded that outwintering cattle on a diverse mix of forages can help improve both animal and soil health, while also benefiting the…


Why organic acids are key to reducing cellulitis rates

Since 2010, the number of cellulitis rejects has increased nearly threefold, according to Food Standards Agency data. “In the early 2000s we were concerned about a 0.5% cellulitis infection rate…


Emerging diseases – another unwanted climate change effect

Insect-borne livestock diseases that were once confined to the tropics are increasingly likely to threaten farms in the UK as climate change expands the number of countries where they can…

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