Getting Involved in CHeCS – Cattle Health Certification Standards

 

Getting started with CHeCS

The first step is to identify which diseases you want to control, and contact a licensed CHeCS Cattle Health Scheme which covers that disease. A list of participating health schemes is at the bottom of each ‘disease’ page. Herd owners may test for any or all of the diseases at the same time. Where to start depends on a herd’s individual circumstances. The entry level to a Cattle Health Scheme only requires routine monitoring (which in dairy herds is by regular bulk milk testing). This will give a good assessment of the health status of the herd. Once the health status is known, a herd may progress through a programme of control and eradication to eventual accreditation of disease free status. All of this is explained in much greater detail in the CHeCS Technical Document.

 

Why improve your herd health status

Herd health schemes protect the overall health, welfare and profitability of the herd, and provide a very noticeable reduction in annual losses.

For example, it is known that in just 10 years, uncontrolled BVD in a 100 cow herd can cost at least £45,000, and for Johne’s Disease more than £20,000. Defra estimates that BVD costs the cattle sector between £25-61 million/year whilst Johne’s is estimated at £13 million/year. These are considerable and often underestimated costs

It’s easy to get started, and plenty of support is on offer along the journey.

A CHeCS licensed Cattle Health Scheme will bring you everything you want to know about controlling disease and improving the status of your herd into one place. Some of the Health Schemes operate geographically, for example only in the Channel Islands. Others will focus on just one disease. So before you start, make sure you’ve identified a Health Scheme that covers the diseases you want to tackle, and covers your geographic area.

More and more farmers only want to buy cattle from herds that are known to be healthy.

Herds in CHeCS licensed Cattle Health Schemes are able to provide an owner’s declaration of health status. This gives buyers the confidence that they are not buying in disease.

Herd health will increasingly become a consumer-led issue, which could prevent milk or beef being sold from non-compliant farms.

Many European countries have either eradicated, or have embarked upon national control and eradication programmes for BVD, IBR, Leptospirosis and Johne’s disease.

If we do not keep pace with these improvements we will find ourselves, as individual herd owners, unable to compete with the rest of Europe.

 

What are the benefits?
A greater public awareness of farming methods has resulted in ever mounting pressure to reduce the use of antibiotics and other treatments in all herds, not just those which are organic. This means that greatly improved methods of disease control are now very much more necessary than in the past. Testing to the standards of a CHeCS licensed cattle health scheme is the first step forward to achieving this.
Controlling the considerable problems caused by disease will show a very noticeable reduction in annual losses. For example, it is known that in just 10 years, uncontrolled BVD in a 100 cow herd can cost at least £45,000, and for Johne’s Disease more than £20,000. Defra estimates that BVD costs the cattle sector between £25-61 million/year whilst Johne’s is estimated at £13 million/year. These are considerable and often underestimated costs.
CHeCS licensed cattle health schemes advise straight forward health measures, specifically designed to protect the herd from re-infection. These are equally effective in keeping out other infectious diseases such as Bovine TB, Digital Dermatitis, and Strep agalactiae mastitis. CHeCS herd health planning is especially effective in protecting the overall health, welfare and profitability of the herd.
Buying cattle only from herds that are known to be healthy is becoming ever more important. In this respect, herds in CHeCS licensed cattle health schemes are able to provide an owner’s declaration of health status. This gives buyers the confidence that they are not buying in disease. Testing cattle to the CHeCS recognised standard, results in a cattle health certificate, which is a tradeable asset of added value.