The issues of lameness, mastitis, fertility and infectious disease are frequently at the forefront of our minds when we think about key areas affecting UK farm productivity. However, problems associated with youngstock management and the losses that occur are often overlooked.
Performance figures for youngstock rearing in the UK highlight a significant area where improvements can be made to aid the welfare and productivity of British cattle farming.
The National Youngstock Association (NYA) was formed earlier this year to serve the UK dairy and beef industries by providing information, education and access to the most up-to-date research on all topics relevant to the health, welfare and profitable management of youngstock.
The NYA has been set up as a not-for-profit organisation, open to all individuals working with or having an interest in any aspect of cattle youngstock, and is supported by a large number of organisations and companies working in the sector.
By providing a forum for farmers, vets, industry and researchers, the aim of the NYA is to promote best practice and enable the exchange of ideas relevant to all stages of youngstock rearing. The NYA’s first event was its annual conference held at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire. This was attended by nearly 200 people, and provided delegates with a series of “practical approach to…” seminars on the latest developments in breeding, nutrition and health.
Plans are already in place for next year’s conference and the NYA is working with Farmers Weekly and the RABDF on a series of farm walks to be held early in the New Year.
The NYA is pleased to be working with Farmers Weekly on the Youngstock: Stop the Loss campaign and hopes it will help reduce the losses occurring on British farms, by raising awareness and providing practical, up-to-date information on how best to manage youngstock.
The association believes the industry needs to realise the importance of youngstock for its long-term sustainability; a lot can be achieved by just being more aware of what is going on with the calves on farm and ensuring that they are being managed in the most appropriate way.
Tim Potter, National Youngstock Association chairman