Stop disease – vet
VETS and producers must recognise the true cost of disease in terms of lost production and move away from a reactive to a preventive approach to control, according to a Glasgow Vet School researcher. But there may also be scope to target drugs more effectively.
"Typically only 30% of the cost of an outbreak of cattle respiratory disease relates to therapy. What is never quantified is the adverse effect on animal performance which accounts for 60% of disease costs," says David Barrett.
In a review published in the Vet Record, Mr Barrett says measures can be taken to prevent pneumonia outbreaks occurring on the same farms year after year.
"Vaccines have been available for many years, yet uptake could be higher. Improving building-use neednt cost the earth and avoiding mixing calves of different ages and isolating bought-in calves help with disease prevention."
Membership of farm assurance schemes provides producers with an ideal opportunity to quiz their vet, says Mr Barrett.
"Fulfilling the requirements of these schemes means vets visit producer members. Some vets could also be more forceful in suggesting prevention plans."
When antibiotic treatment is required there is also room for improvement in choosing the most efficient and cost-effective drug, but generally insufficient lab data on the disease is available to assist vets, he adds.
Disease prevention by improving husbandry is crucial to the future success of the industry, he believes. "Much money is being lost through disease and producers that will survive will be those with the healthiest and most productive animals."