Nick Barradale BVSc MRCVS, Molecare Veterinary Services
Increasing milk safety initiatives are now common place in the landscape of milk production. These are not just “industry hoops” designed to make it harder for producers but valuable aids to enabling a healthier more efficient supply chain. In an age of ever developing competition for trolley-space it also allows a stronger footing on which we can market our industry.
Whether these present as developing audit standards, training or professional engagement courses they should not be and increasingly cannot be overlooked. Consumer safety and pressure cannot be underestimated and with a changing world, responsibility for your product does not end as it leaves the farm.
As a vet who primarily works with dairy units, I have seen fantastic industry lead health initiatives really bring on the understanding of health, disease, welfare and ultimately productivity. It is now time to tighten our belts on our understanding of food safety to ensure we can stand proud and shout; “our product is safe and wholesome”.
To that end, I urge all producers to engage with all the developing recommended standards as well as such courses as MilkSure. Red Tractor audit requirements have also tightened up antibiotic usage and new herd health plans give a fantastic opportunity to review usage and apply appropriate protocols to various heavy usage areas such as udders and calves.
The producers our practice have already worked with on this have really benefitted. By their own admission they have learnt something, much like the vets involved! This knowledge is power and can only help to strengthen businesses as well as continuing the efficiency drive that healthy herds develop.
So where do you start as a producer and how do you make it cost effective? It is now mandatory to assess much of the above with your annual herd audit. Take advantage of this and engage with your vet to develop your herd health plan into a dynamic beneficial document;
- Involve your staff to publish protocols that are practically manageable and protect the business based on risk assessment
- Push to calendar management events onto a health planner to keep you on track
- Establish a data stream that is concise, consistent and staff are compliant with
- Record data that is used by yourself, consultant or vet to benefit health plan development
- Focus herd investment based on engagement with key advisors and data that validates it