Effective Herd Health Planning To Boost Profitability

UK - Disease reduces fertility, growth rate and increases mortality and labour costs, according to Eblex. A planned approach to the prevention and control of disease is the most cost effective way to address these losses.
calendar icon 2 November 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Your Veterinary Surgeon will be able to advise you on the measures most appropriate for your herd health plan which should be updated at least annually. Farm Assurance Schemes recognise the benefits of these health plans and have included them in their standards.

Key Elements of a Herd Health Plan

  1. Production Records

    Herd production records – cow mated, calves born, calves weaned, length of calving season, number of cull cows and reasons are the minimum records required. These are related to target figures with an action plan for improvement.

  2. General Management Records

    Management records detailing all classes of stock, from neonatal calves through weaning to sale, cows at all stages of their production cycle, and bulls.

    Details of housing and handling facilities. Items include: type of housing and capacity, feeding systems, calving boxes, cattle race and crush construction and disinfection.

    Feed records for all classes of stock throughout the year. To include monitoring for conditions due to under or over nutrition (e.g., body condition scoring, liveweight for age) and standard operating procedures for recognition of problems and treatment.

    Transport and casualty slaughter arrangements – transport type and cleanliness for healthy cattle. New guidelines and arrangements for humane destruction of any sick or injured animals, unable to be effectively treated should be outlined.


  3. Health and Biosecurity Records Medicine use and proper storage on farm. How to avoid residues. A list of agreed medicines to be prescribed by your vet. Medicine usage outside these guidelines would usually require further advice or investigation. Biosecurity and isolation – see Action for Profit Note 7 (Better Returns from Effective Herd Biosecurity). Details of isolation facilities available for sick animals and disinfection procedures listed. Lameness – Standard operating procedures detailing diagnosis and treatment. Calving time – standard operating procedures for calving & neonatal problems including: - prolapse and dystocia - what to do, when to call your vet, when to cull.

  4. Disease Health Plans

    Infectious disease. This will include monitoring for disease, treatment and control including vaccination.

    Diseases to consider: Tuberculosis (TB), Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD), Johne’s, Leptospirosis, Mastitis, Campylobacter fetus spp., Salmonella, Rotavirus, Coronavirus, E. Coli, Pasteurella, Respiratory Syncitial Virus (RSV), Bovine Herpes Virus 1 (IBR), Parainfluenza 3 Virus (PI3), Listeriosis, Digital Dermatitis, Ringworm and any other disease relevant to your area or farm plus surveillance for new or emerging diseases.

    Parasitic disease, a control plan for both internal (worms and fluke) and external (lice, tick and head fly) parasites is essential. This includes appropriate use of products for control and treatment and surveillance such as faecal egg counts (FEC).
  5. Herd Health Calendar

    The herd health calendar provides an instant check on routine preventive and health management procedures. A health plan is a partnership with your vet. It is a living document and will need to be reviewed and updated (frequency depends on type of unit, stock numbers and existing problems).

Further Reading

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