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Scottish Dairy Farmers Tackle Health and Welfare

12 November 2009

UK - Three of the country’s leading organisations will host an innovative national event that will help farmers continue to deliver the very best in health and welfare to the modern dairy cow.

National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS), in collaboration with the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) and DairyCo, will host the ‘Talking Health and Welfare’ conference at SAC’s Crichton Royal Farm, Dumfries, on Thursday, 3 December. Believed to be the first specialist farmer event in Scotland to focus exclusively on dairy cow health and welfare, it demonstrates that all three organisations are committed to promoting efficient, responsible and profitable dairy farming.

The conference will underline that happy, healthy and comfortable dairy cows are also the most profitable.

NFU Scotland President, Jim McLaren, who will speak at the event, said: "The dairy sector’s record on health and welfare is regularly placed under the microscope. Faced with this level of scrutiny, farmers are stepping up to the challenges they are being asked to address. Huge strides have been taken in recent times to ensure that the health and welfare standards on Scottish and UK dairy farms remain amongst the highest in the world. We can be proud of the way we look after our cows and this specialist dairy farmer event will guarantee that we maintain that record.

"All dairy farmers know that they are morally and legally obliged to look after their cows to the best of their ability and dairy farmers themselves have the greatest appreciation that a happy, healthy, comfortable cow is also the most profitable cow. This conference will help reinforce the message that delivering on health and welfare can also deliver on the bottom line in terms of financial return.

"As well as looking at specific disease threats, such as Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) and Johne’s Disease, the conference will tackle thorny issues such as the industry’s record on dairy cow longevity and mastitis head on. The average age of a cow on UK dairy farms has been increasing, year-on-year, since the mid-nineties and conference speakers will explain how breeding priorities built around a cow's lifetime will only enhance this further.

“In addition, the incidence of mastitis has plummeted and is now less than half that seen 30 years ago but tackling mastitis to improve milk quality remains a priority for all producers. There is no room for complacency and industry plans are in place to breed robust animals well able to cope with the demands of modern dairy farms while at the same time improving udder health and further cutting mastitis rates.

"Scottish dairy farmers also know that there remains room for improvement, particularly in areas such as fertility and lameness, but they have a vested interest in the well-being of their animals. I would urge them all to attend this fantastic event, which has pulled together industry-leading experts on dairy cow health and welfare and will help to build on the great strides that have been made by Scottish farmers in addressing such issues in recent times."

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