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Getting to Grips with Dairy Herd Health

11 March 2013

UK - Maintaining the health of the dairy herd at a time when the spotlight is on issues of animal welfare and sustainability and the demand is to produce more food economically is a challenge for all dairy farmers, writes Chris Harris.

Dairy Herd Health, published by CABI, puts together a series of papers from various authors covering the basis of maintaining herd health and signalling important areas of concern and areas for attention.

The book focuses on disease prevention at the herd level, but the editors stress that this does not mean that the health of individual animals is not important.

The ethos behind the book is that in modern farming systems, preventing disease at the population level will ultimately be more rewarding.

"If we get this right, we can improve the lives of many animals and reduce the need for individual interventions," the editors say.

Each chapter of the book deals with important areas of dairy herd health concerns.

The book aims to cover most of the important areas in sufficient detail to allow for even the inexperienced reader to put in place herd health programmes. It also aims to help the more experience herd health practitioners to look again at what they are doing and improve their practice.

The book adopts an evidence-based approach and backs up its message and advice with research literature.

The book sets out by looking at the concept of herd health and then looks at how practices have changed on the dairy farm. It discusses why have a herd health programme, how to establish pone and how to train staff.

It stresses that there needs to be good communication between the farmer and the cow health advisor. The books says that working as a team is essential to good cow herd health.

The book then discusses youngstock where it looks at rearing and mortality and disease in youngstock as well as financial considerations of rearing youngstock. It looks a monitoring the health of younstock through the neonatal stages including claving, pre-weaning, post-weaning, first calving and lactation periods and monitoring into culling in the adult herd.

It gives targets at each stage and summarises disease control.

The book then looks at herd reproduction and fertility, controlling mastitis and enhancing milk quality, controlling lameness, controlling infectious diseases including diagnostic tests and practical implementation of disease controls, nutrition management and food security and environmental issues.

The book is edited by Martin Green from the University of Nottingham together with a team including Andrew Bradley, James Breen, Helen Higgins, Chris Hudson and Jon Huxley also from the University of Nottingham, Jonathan Statham from Bishopton Veterinary Group, Laura Green from the University of Warwick and Alistair Hayton from Synergy Farm Health.

The book is available through the 5M Retail Shop.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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