A state-of-the-nation review of cattle health and welfare has been released from the Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG).
The fourth of its kind, the report is a wide-ranging appraisal of cattle numbers, systems and practices as well as a summary of performance on welfare measures, spanning lameness, mastitis and fertility to breeding and surveillance.
This year, progress in the fights against BVD and Johnes disease, alongside advances in udder health and mastitis reduction in dairy cows are recognised.
But the report also highlights the threat of antimicrobial resistance and the challenges of measuring, collating and reporting meaningful antibiotic usage data across dairy and beef sectors to guide more responsible use.
AHDB’s Dr Jenny Gibbons, who co-ordinated the collection of data, says this year’s report shows how this dovetails with the industry’s newly-updated Dairy Cow Welfare Strategy.
She says: “The strategy is included in the appendix, with icons in the text signifying where specific priorities are being addressed.
“Items which stand out in the report include the clear advances made in udder health since 2010, with a year-on-year decline in clinical mastitis incidence.
“Big changes have also happened in endemic disease.
“More than 700 vets have now gained ‘accredited johne’s veterinary advisor status’ and 86 per cent of milk supply is from farms which are part of the National Johne’s Disease Management Programme.
“In the 2016 report, the industry-led programme to build national BVD free herds in England had just been launched. Since then Gwaredu BVD (eradicating BVD) has been launched in Wales, and the Scottish BVD eradication scheme, running since 2010, has proven its impact with 90 per cent of Scottish breeding holdings now having a negative BVD status.”
Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss highlights the challenges from antimicrobial resistance, which she calls an issue of ‘global significance’ as well as the positive impacts of herd health planning.
She says: “With the next UK strategy on antimicrobial resistance due for publication early next year, we will continue to work together with CHAWG to ensure all veterinary medicines use in cattle is responsible, as much as necessary, as little as possible.”
The fourth CHAWG report can be downloaded from www.chawg.org.uk.