Ahead of the start of the spring-calving season starting on farms, now is a good time to sit down with your vet and develop or alter your farm’s herd health plan.

Over the coming days and weeks, spring-calving dairy farms will start gearing up for the start of the calving season and during this period a herd health plan could play an important role on a farm.

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

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

It should also 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.

Herd health

A herd health plan is a vital tool on farms to improve and maintain herd/animal health which in return, allows for production to be maximised.

When implemented there should be a reduced level of sickness within the animals on the farm.

A key part of any plan will be a vaccination programme. This means that disease that are of highest risk to the herd/farm can be targeted.

Vaccines work by stimulating an animal’s immune system without infecting them with the disease.

After this, if the vaccinated animal comes in contact with the disease, its immune system will recognise it (from the vaccine) and immediately produce the antibodies needed to fight it off.

Although it will not stop the animal from becoming sick it, it will reduce the impact the disease/sickness has on the animal.