By Dwayne Summach, PAg, Livestock and Feed Extension Specialist, Kindersley
If you have livestock, it is important to be aware of their health. Identifying animals that are not feeling well is one of the hallmarks of excellent stockmanship. You may need help to correctly identify what is causing an animal to not be well. A formal relationship with a veterinarian is important for any producer and is also required to purchase the medications needed to treat sick animals. Maintaining this relationship should include herd health consultations that include discussions about disease prevention through the use of biosecurity and a robust vaccination protocol.
The ultimate goal of a herd health program is to minimize the occurrence of illness, thereby reducing the use of antibiotics. Take a critical look at:
- When, why and how routine operations are performed;
- Animal movement patterns;
- Facility design and materials;
- Cleaning and disinfection protocols and implementation; and
- Your nutrition program.
Consider establishing a formal diagnosis and treatment protocol in consultation with your veterinarian. Taking the time to identify the causes of livestock illness on your operation can help focus your efforts, improve early diagnosis and treatment and reduce morbidity and mortality.
Operating the same way you always have is likely to deliver similar results. If you are not completely satisfied with the historical performance of your herd's health, you need to consider doing things differently. Consult your veterinarian for assistance establishing or improving herd health protocols. For more information regarding livestock management, handling and nutrition, contact your local livestock and feed extension specialist or call the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.