The first step is to discuss with your client which diseases they should be tackling . In dairy herds, additional detail to inform this decision can be gained through a simple bulk milk test. Depending on the disease/s in question, you may consider working with your client on a simplified regime outside of a CHeCS-licensed scheme, but there are benefits to working with a CHeCS Health Scheme. One of the main ones is that participation in CHeCS-licensed health schemes is recognised by both Defra in England, and the Welsh Government with respect to their rules on Bovine TB.
Working with a CHeCS-licensed Health Scheme does not lessen the herd vet’s involvement – in fact it strengthens it. The protocols used by CHeCS rely heavily on the herd vet and their endorsement of the measures being followed. You can view these protocols in the CHeCS Technical Document.
If you decide to recommend you and your client use a CHeCS-licensed Health Scheme, then you can contact a Cattle Health Scheme which covers the diseases you want to tackle. 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, but you may want to get your client to start with the main challenge.
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, and as well as resulting in direct losses from abortion, milk depression etc, they can suppress immunity to other diseases. For your vets practice, getting your cliens involved in disease eradication shifts the income focus away from medication prescriptions and towards proactive health management.
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. Having a healthier herd, which is not fighting disease, means a more productive herd.
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.
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. It also shifts the income focus of the vet away from medications and towards proactive health management.
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.