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Sessions & Workshops
Current animal health and welfare issues: management, vet. advice and tools
Animal health continues to be an important topic for livestock farmers with implications for farm
productivity and certification. This session will look at on-farm problems from both sides (vet and farmer) and will present the latest developments in welfare assessment from the Assurewel project
Katharine Leach (ORC): Chair
Speaker presentations and abstracts
Crichel Farm is an organic dairy and arable farm in Dorset, which runs two milking herds of 200 cows each. The high welfare and productivity of the herds is achieved by dedicated herdspersons, close monitoring and quick action taken if needed. Key improvements for animal health and welfare were achieved by crossbreeding (three way crosses of Holstein, Swedish Red and Montbeliarde) and the simple transformation within the old cubicle houses into sand cubicles. Infectious diseases are closely monitored: The herds are BVD and (probably) Johne’s free, but constant surveillance and risk based prevention are continuously required to prevent introduction. Lameness and mastitis levels have fallen significantly and fertility is now excellent.
Parasitic problems in youngstock were a feature during the last summer – the wettest in 100 years with parts of the pastures flooded. Targeted medical action according to egg count results was required at certain times, followed by a review of grazing strategies. Fly control in the summer has been successfully achieved using parasitic wasps. The weather also had a significant impact on grazing and forage quantity and quality, and adjusting the diets to minimise condition and yield losses is an ongoing challenge.
Neil Edwards (farmer): Discussions of farm approaches
Neil will review aspects of his farm animal health approach with Peter Plate as his vet
Jessica Stokes (Soil Association): AssureWel: promoting uptake of welfare outcome assessment (831KB)
AssureWel ran a workshop ORC conference 2011 to consult delegates on a) which outcome measures were considered necessary to assess dairy welfare and b) how to use welfare outcome assessment to promote actions to improve welfare where necessary. Delegates identified that: the relationship between the assessor and farmer; assessor knowledge; and training to encourage uptake of the approach as a routine management tool are key to promote welfare improvement. Key measures highlighted include response to stockperson, dirtiness, broken tails, body condition, heifer survivability and cull and casualty cows, and mobility as an individual and herd management measure.
Over the past year, AssureWel has been working closely with Red Tractor Assurance (RTA) Dairy Scheme to pilot and finalise across scheme protocols. In summer 2012, Soil Association and RSPCA have trained and embedded the approach within their scheme assessments. Two forums (May and October, 2012) were held to consult and engage with industry stakeholders to ensure a joined up strategy and roll out of the approach led by DairyCo, and this work is on-going. This workshop will update delegates on progress and plans for the approach going forward. It also includes a discussion and feedback session with a Soil Association licensee who has recently undergone an assessment at annual inspection; demonstrating the on farm benefits that this approach offers in providing immediate animal focussed feedback, discussion and support where necessary.