A herd health plan should be in place on all livestock farms. A healthy animal is more productive and no farmer likes treating sick animals.

On January 28, 2022, some major changes will come into force affecting Irish agriculture, with the introduction of new antibiotic regulations from the end of the month.

The main aim of these changes is to reduce the amount of antibiotics used on farms.


The main aim or purpose of a herd health plan is to maintain a good level of animal health, which will allow for maximum economic return to be made on the farm.

The plan should outline the main management practices and procedures that are carried out on the farm.

Implementing this plan on your farm should reduce the amount of sickness and disease requiring veterinary assistance – which should mean more production from your herd and reduced costs.

Herd health plan

As many farms begin to gear up for the spring-calving season, now is a good time to sit down with your vet and develop a herd health plan that suits your farm.

It is important that the plan is tailored to your farm and herd, to ensure that maximum benefit is achieved.

A herd health plan should include a vaccination programme, with diseases that are, or have been, an issue. The plan should also outline when the best time to complete these vaccinations will be.

Some of the other things that can be included in a herd health plan are:

  • The management of calves at birth;
  • How sheds are cleaned and disinfected;
  • How purchased animals or those returning from shows are treated;
  • How mastitis cases are dealt with and recorded.


As we have seen throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, vaccinations may not stop sickness but they can reduce the severity of the sickness.

This may mean an animal will not require an antibiotic, compared to an unvaccinated animal.

With the changes to antibiotic regulations, vaccinations will become increasingly more important on farms.