By Alicia Sopatyk, PAg, Regional Livestock and Feed Extension Specialist, Tisdale
You have probably heard of the 4Rs of Recycling, but did you know there are also 4Rs of Herd Health? – Right Diagnosis, Right Treatment, Right Location and Right Duration. Having a formalized herd health plan is beneficial for reference and review, can improve the health status of your livestock, your bottom line and can easily apply the 4Rs.
Herd health is about proactively addressing animal health through disease prevention, control and treatment. The plan may include but is not limited to, biosecurity and vaccination protocols as well as 4R procedures for common illnesses seen on the ranch. Having a close working relationship with your veterinarian is important for developing a complete plan. The more your veterinarian knows about your operation and livestock, the better they are able to develop a specific operation plan.
Veterinarians may have a plan template to help get you started. In its simplest form this plan outlines the production practices of your operation as they relate to the health of your livestock. From here, you can work with your veterinarian and other industry professionals to identify practices that could benefit the health of your animals, i.e. a new vaccination protocol or parasite control product. It is important to address as many areas of prevention, control and treatment as you can. Incorporate the 4Rs of Herd Health as quick reference protocols and be sure to incorporate record keeping. You can't manage what you don't measure and ultimately your production and herd health records serve as valuable evaluation tools.
Written herd health plans address barriers to animal health, welfare and production. As livestock producers you work hard to maintain a productive and healthy herd; a formalized plan is one document that can support you. While it may seem like one more thing on the to-do list, the long-term gain of a healthy and productive herd speaks volumes. When is the last time a veterinarian visited your livestock operation? Search Sask Vets 'Find a Clinic' web page to find a local vet or call yours today!