Vets are in a very unique position to support farmers by encouraging improvements in fertility, genetics, preventative medicine and disease management, according to John Gilmore who practices as a vet in Co. Roscommon.

He has a particular interest in preventative medicine on cattle and sheep farms. “Vets are also qualified and well positioned to facilitate knowledge transfer of relevant information in the areas of sub-clinical disease awareness, preventative medicine, sustainable antimicrobial usage, environmental sustainability, animal data monitoring and recording,” he said.

Speaking at the Veterinary Ireland conference, he said that vets in Ireland have a central role to play, alongside farmers and policymakers in ensuring the sustainable growth of the Irish agri-food industry.

“Maintaining and improving animal health and minimising disease risk supports high quality food standards, improves sustainability of production and will lead to increased marketability of Irish produce.

“However it also contributes to improved overall profitability and efficiencies on Irish farms because it reduces the costs of treating diseases and reduces the losses in output and production.”

Meath-based vet Frank O’Sullivan said Food Chain Information (FCI) could be a vehicle for not only identifying food safety issues and pathology at slaughter, but could also help farmers and vets to make positive decisions to improve animal health on farms.

He explained that vets in Ireland have, for many years, played a role in protecting the safety of the food we eat and protection of animal health and welfare through clinical inspections on farm and at meat factories.

The Federation of Vets in Europe (FVE) is currently exploring how “modernisation of meat inspection” and investment in technologies in Europe might see ante and post mortem clinical information and records fed back along the food chain. In addition relevant information from the farm would accompany the animals to slaughter to inform management decisions by the veterinary inspectorate and meat factories, he said.

“If vets and farmers collectively review information of this nature in partnership, they can identify emerging issues in a herd in a timely manner before they become a major issue and can also make interventions at an earlier stage for more cost effective and efficient herd health management.”