Cattle Health

Second GB Cattle Health & Welfare Group Report

The second Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG) report to examine the state of GB’s cattle health and welfare, published in June 2014, highlights the need to prioritise health and welfare issues, set defined targets and collaborate across the nations in achieving measurable results.

Download PDF

Letter to the Veterinary Record

Vol 170 13, P.343.

I would like to update the position with Cattle Health Certification Standards (CHeCS) accredited schemes. Booth & Brownlie (2012) in their recent most informative paper on establishing a pilot bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) virus eradication scheme in Somerset quote a personal communication with me in 2007 that only 4.4% of UK farms were members of CHeCS accredited schemes.

Download PDF


Limousin Society Invests £100,000 in Herd Health Initiative

In a major policy announcement, The British Limousin Cattle Society has outlined its plans to invest £100,000 in the introduction of a progressive breed Herd Health Assurance initiative.

The Initiative, which will be open to all 2,500 members of the BLCS, will play a central part in the society’s ongoing technical drive to provide cattle that combine the highest visual and genetic quality with an assured high health status.

Announcing the plans, BLCS Chairman, Aled Edwards said; “This is an exciting step forward for the Society. The initiative is a responsible, long term commitment to herd health that is introduced with welcome scientific backing. In today’s industry the emphasis is very much on quality, efficiency and costs of production. We will continue to meet the demands of the market place and this is a logical step forward to positively provide our customer base with health assured cattle, both male and female.”

Financial support will be made available, initially over a four year period, to both those members who are already making an investment in herd health assurance and as a means of positive encouragement to those considering their hers’ involvement. Participating members will receive monies through the practical option of a ‘cash-back’ scheme based on the number of individual herd registrations per annum lodged with the Society. To be eligible, herds will have to be demonstrably within, and adhering to the terms of, Cattle Health Certification Standards, or CHeCS, Approved animal health scheme. CHeCS is a self-regulatory body for Cattle Health Schemes in the UK and license holders include Premium Cattle Health Scheme, HI Health and Herdcare. Commenting, CHeCS Executive Director Tim Brigstocke warmly welcomed the BLCS plans, he said: “This is and excellent long term investment in herd health by a major breed society that will be welcomed by Government and the whole of the food chain.”

The BLCS initiative will be administered by the Society with monies paid back to the value of £25,000 retrospectively at the end of each year.

BLCS Chief Executive, Ian Kerr, said that the initiative was ground breaking for the Society and was again ‘taking the lead’ to meet the industry challenges ahead. “With the introduction of the Single Farm Payment, the BLCS believes that assured high health status is an essential criteria to sell breeding and prime stock into premium markets and to be in a position to fully exploit all new opportunities,” he said.

In August of last year, the Society held an Elite Sale within its World Congress that carried high health status entry conditions. This principle was well received by vendors and purchasers alike and its success contributed to the Society’s determination to pursue long term positive herd health policies.

Detailed plans of the initiative, will be rolled out to members in February and will be a point of discussion at the forthcoming Sprint Bull Sales.

For Further information please contact:

Ian Kerr, BLCS Chief Executive on 02476 696 500

The pioneering Hi Health cattle health scheme, adopted voluntarily by almost 1,000 producers throughout the Highlands and Islands, is a wonderful example of what ought to be happening in the rest of the UK, according to one of the Government’s top animal health advisors.

Six years of development work have already gone into the scheme and, during a visit to Inverness this week – to meet up with George Gunn, head of the epidemiology unit at SAC and one of the scheme’s main architects – Tim Brigstocke, chief executive of CHeCS (Cattle Health Certification Standards) said it was a credit to everyone concerned.

“We are seeing initiatives getting under way in places like Cornwall but, in general, the uptake of cattle health schemes is low.” he said.

“Hi Health shows what is possible and achievable and it is doing exactly what the Government gets excited about – working from a strong scientific base with strong farmer buy-in.

“If this can work in some parts of the UK, it begs the question of why not in others. It is great to see that, in the Highlands and Islands, scheme organisers have managed to persuade farmers to join and to stay committed, with interest and enthusiasm. It is a jolly good model.”

An annual farm health plan is set to become a necessity but the HI Health programme – spearhead by the Scottish Agricultural College and Highlands and Islands Enterprise with backing from Europe and Scottish Executive – is already steps ahead.

“Those who adopt the package can guarantee superior health and traceability of their animals and commitment of hundreds of producers and their vets to a wide-ranging disease eradication effort is undoubtedly helping to boost the areas already high reputation for quality livestock,” said HI Health chairman Michael Cursiter, who farms in Orkney.

Speaking at a meeting in Inverness, he said members believed in trying to enhance the Scottish beef industry by doing something different because everyone knew that it was impossible to compete against imports on price.

“By committing to Hi Health, we believe we have a head start and we would like to see others coming on board to expand still further the reservoir of accredited animals on Scotland’s farms. To be really meaningful, what we need is a critical mass.”

Elimination of previous disease problems and avoidance of new ones are the keys to the Hi Health’s success and the programme has been concentrating on monitoring and screening herds for diseases such as BVD, IBR, Leptospirosis and Johne’s Disease through close farmer/vet relationships.

Individual herd health plans are drawn up and prevention and/or control strategies implemented, with all members and vets keeping in regular touch through vet practice group meetings

BSE, foot and mouth and classical swine fever have raised the animal health issue to a higher plain i n recent months and, with Quality Meat Scotland now making a recommendation that all farmers undertake an annual health audit, producers in areas outwith the Highlands are making contact with Hi Health.

Mr Gunn said: “There are a number of health schemes and it’s a free market but we have built up considerable experience within HI Health. We have also expanded our scheme to include sheep and more and more groups of farmers are showing an interest in signing up.

“At the first level, we look at overall health but we find that almost everyone in Hi Health is motivated to expand the initial involvement from monitoring to disease eradication.”

Michael Durno, Auchorachan, Glenlivet has been appointed vice-chairman of HI Health and directors include Ruairdh Mackenzie, Heathmount, Tain; Ian Wilson, Wester Cairnglass, Gollanfield; and Jim MacMillan, Caithness.