This month, Defra announced that the number of livestock producers with a farm health plan had decreased to 73% in 2019, compared with 75% in 2018.
Alexandra Ashworth, ruminant veterinary advisor for MSD Animal Health and spokesperson for Disease? Not On My Farm! – a campaign that promotes the importance of proactive, preventative healthcare on farm – expressed concern about this apparent decrease.
“The benefits of a proactive and ongoing herd health plan cannot be underestimated, and this report highlights we have more work to do in spreading this message nationwide.
“What’s more, of those who have a plan, it has been found that only 55% use it regularly to inform animal health decisions on farm, suggesting it is just a ‘tick box’ exercise for some farms.
“With changing consumer expectations and the ever-present challenges from the cost of treating disease, it has never been more important for farmers to understand the value of managing disease and a well-thought out farm health plan is a good place to start.”
Encouragingly, the report also showed that the number of farm health plans completed with the help of a vet or adviser increased from 79% in 2018 to 84% in 2019. Ashworth welcomed the news. “The vet farmer relationship is crucial to preventive animal health planning and maintaining a successful farm business.”