Combined effort to reduce disease

The National Beef Association has invited other cattle sector organisations to join it in putting together an industry-wide Cattle Health and Welfare Council.

Its new cattle health chairman, Philip Dale, believes that improved health reduces mortality as well as cutting costs - and can very quickly put tens of thousands of pounds on a farmer's bottom line.

"Big financial hits from disease can only be reduced if there is more weight and structure behind industry efforts to not just focus attention on the benefits of good health management at farm level but also co-ordinate national efforts to reduce, and then snuff out, the expensive diseases that are a danger to everyone, "he explained.

"The NBA on its own can only have a limited impact in this area but if it could link up with other farmers, vets and administrators then expand the range to include abattoirs and retailers their combined influence would be huge.

"Imagine the benefits at farm level if BVD could be eradicated and the damage caused nationally by Johne's is curbed and then think of what could happen if every regular nuisance like lameness, respiratory diseases and illnesses linked with infertility were tackled too. "I am passionate about this, and so is the NBA, which is why we have offered to elevate a section of our Cattle Health Committee into an industry-wide national council that will explore with everyone, including Government and drug companies, the means to deliver a healthier cattle sector and a better chance of the beef industry being profitable."

A steering group which aims to establish the Council within six months begins its work on January 10. It will be made up of cross section of cattle interests including dairy sector representatives and Government specialists.

"If we are to think big we cannot act small. Disease is spread through both dairy and beef cattle and the movement of breeding females, bull calves and cross-bred stores between the two sectors is just too big to ignore," said Mr Dale.