With herd health increasingly becoming a consumer-led issue and more public awareness of farming methods there is mounting pressure to reduce antibiotic use and improve the health and welfare of livestock. Improved methods of disease control are becoming more important and increasingly farmers only want to buy cattle from herds that are known to be healthy, particularly in pedigree circles. Testing to the standards of a CHeCS licensed cattle health scheme can help to achieve this.
Cattle Health Certification Standards (UK), abbreviated to CHeCS, is the regulatory body for Cattle Health Schemes in the UK and Ireland. Health scheme regulations include biosecurity measures and regular blood/faecal testing of all animals to aim to eradicate disease on your farm and improve the overall health and profitability of your herd. They will also provide a reduction in annual losses.
As an example, it is thought that uncontrolled BVD in a 100 cow herd can cost upwards of £50,000 over a ten year period, and for Johnes 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.
Diseases that you can become accredited for include Johnes Disease, Neospora, Lepto, BVD, IBR and more recently, Bovine TB. CHeCS was established in 1999 by the cattle industry to control and eradicate a number of diseases using a set of standards to which all licensed Cattle Health Schemes must adhere. There are several labs that run these health schemes throughout the UK.
The initial testing can appear to be quite a costly investment but that should be exactly what it is, an investment, and one that can encourage a healthy return both in livestock sales and disease management. Herds in CHeCS licensed Cattle Health Schemes are able to provide a declaration of health status which gives buyers the confidence that they are not buying in disease.
CHeCS licensed cattle health schemes advise straight forward health measures, specifically designed to protect the herd from re-infection. The biosecurity measures involved should ensure the herd remains free from many other diseases not just those accredited for.
Many European countries have either eradicated, or have embarked upon national control and eradication programmes for BVD, IBR, Leptospirosis and Johne’s disease. In the UK, BVD Free England has been launched and some funding is currently available for this. We have recently held a BVD meeting which enables attendees to access this funding. Due to the success and interest at the first meeting we will be holding another in Eccleshall, please see the details below.
For anybody interested in applying for accreditation please give me a call at the practice, Claire