Farmers Guardian
Topics
How to spot BSE and what farmers can do to prevent it

How to spot BSE and what farmers can do to prevent it

DataHub

DataHub

Dairy Farmer Magazine

Dairy Farmer Magazine

Auction Finder

Auction Finder

British Farming Awards

British Farming Awards

CropTec

CropTec

LAMMA 2020

LAMMA 2020

Technology must be embraced post-Brexit, but it is no substitute for skilled vets

New technology must be embraced post-Brexit, and IT which monitors animal health and welfare has its place, but it must not replace skilled veterinary professionals, says BVA president Simon Doherty.

Sustainability is a hot topic.

 

With the UN predicting global consumption of animal-derived food will double by 2050, the need for more sustainable ways of producing meat and dairy products has never been greater.

 

We know many farmers have been moving towards making their businesses more sustainable and the issue is one which has been discussed among the farming community for a long time.

 

It’s widely accepted that improving efficiency within herds, using less antibiotics, making more efficient use of natural resources and looking at new technologies to improve production and lessen the environmental impact of farming practices are all important areas to look at.

 

Touches

 

The new BVA position touches on all of these, but we also talk about how to ensure animal health and welfare is kept front of mind in any plans for animal agriculture after Brexit.

 

So what do we mean by Sustainable Animal Agriculture and how can vets support farmers to do this?

 

Our new position aims to look at ‘the bigger picture’, taking animal health and welfare into consideration when exploring emerging trends, sustainable resource management, higher health and welfare schemes and innovative whole farm management systems.

 

As part of this, we talk about how vets can work with farmers to achieve more sustainable practices.

 

Essentially, it is back to basic animal husbandry. Look after animals well and they will be more productive.

 

Lower

 

The knock-on effect of this is healthier and happier animals tend to lead to lower antibiotic use, meaning less antibiotics in the slurry, on the land and therefore, less of an environmental impact.

 

A lot of this can be supported by good planning.

 

Vets can create farm health and welfare plans to help prevent and control disease, which will ensure production efficiency and maximise welfare. They take a ‘3R’s’ (replacement, reduction, refinement) approach when considering management practices or adapting particular animals to the farm environment.

 

The new position specifically recommends animal welfare should not be compromised to address human need, drive production or reduce the ecological footprint of animal agriculture.

 

Innovative

 

An example of this would be in new innovative methods to monitor animal health and welfare.

 

Embracing innovation in the right way is at the core of this recommendation.

 

While BVA recognises the role of these technologies, we would encourage farmers not to use automatic systems to replace skilled veterinary keepers and professionals when it is appropriate to have them.

 

The key role veterinarians play from farm to fork means they are in a prime position to advise on ways of working which deliver both environmental benefits and maintain and improve the lives of the animals within the production system.

 

Individual

 

Some of the ways we can do this as an individual farm vet could be to:

  • Create and advise on farm health and welfare plans to prevent and control disease.
  • Assist producers and consumers to look at how well a production system meets all of an animal’s health and welfare needs in a holistic way.
  • Use benchmarking tools to monitor but also reduce antibiotic use.
  • Advise on ways to create higher welfare systems at times of farm investment or changes.
  • Safeguard and promote animal welfare all the way along the production line, including during transport and at slaughter.

As ever, the vet-farmer relationship is key.

 

If we can work together to plan for and deal with problems before they happen, we can create a farming landscape that is more efficient, has less of an impact on natural resources and the environment and has high animal welfare at its core.

 

Simon can be found tweeting at @simondocvet

 

To read the full BVA position on sustainable animal agriculture, click HERE.

Most Recent

Facebook
Twitter
RSS
Facebook
Twitter
RSS