Progress in cattle health welcomed by vets

Significant improvements have been made in advancing cattle health, according to the latest biennial report from Great Britain’s Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG). 

Key areas where substantial progress was made include mastitis, lameness and longevity. For the first time, the report looked into antimicrobial resistance (AMR) issues facing beef and dairy. In addition, endemic disease control and advancements in eliminating Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) in each country were highlighted.

The report has been welcomed by the chief veterinary officers in the UK, Scotland and Wales – Nigel Gibbens, Sheila Voas and Christianne Glossop – who claimed that the importance of a Great British focus on disease control was as important as ever, given the nation’s eventual departure from the European Union.

“The healthier our animals, the more attractive our products. The better our animal welfare, the greater the confidence of consumers in our production systems".
Nigel Gibbens, Sheila Voas and Christianne Glossop, chief veterinary officers in the UK, Scotland and Wales

“With the UK government placing AMR at the top of its risk register alongside terrorism and pandemic flu, it is heartening to see that CHAWG, in common with other livestock sectors, has grasped the nettle in looking first at how the cattle sector can better capture data on use of antimicrobials.”

Addressing AMR also contributed towards addressing other important issues, with a focus on animal husbandry as this would help reduce the reliance on antimicrobials, they said.

“Success in controlling endemic disease is one area of considerable importance, and here we can highlight CHAWG’s pivotal role in the development and promotion of national disease control programmes. These include the launch of the BVDFree scheme in England earlier this year, ongoing progress with BVD eradication in Scotland, the development of a Wales BVD scheme, and the Action Johne’s initiative.”

CHAWG chairman Tim Brigstocke said that the joint comments are positive and offer up the right direction for future CHAWG activities, with topical and core areas being addressed.

“Effective farm health planning remains the bedrock of good practice,” he commented. “And while we tend to focus on areas that need improvement, it’s worth mentioning that a delegation from the Food & Veterinary Office of the European Commission recently visited and were impressed by the coordinated approach taken in this country.”

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