Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Herd health: an introduction

Contributor(s): Jonathan Statham , James Breen

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Introduction

  • Herd health management (HHM) involves the delivery of a more coordinated approach to preventative medicine with a critical process of prioritization of management interventions.
  • The veterinary surgeon offering a role as the central hub for the farm team.
  • HHM has been defined as ‘a method to optimize health, welfare and production in a population of dairy cows through the systematic analysis of relevant data and through regular objective observations of the cows and their environment, such that informed, timely decisions are made to adjust and improve herd management over time’.
  • The purpose of HHM is primarily to prevent disease and to improve animal health and production by introducing long-term preventative strategies focusing on the whole herd.
  • In addition, the aim of HHM is to also control endemic diseases by monitoring rates of new infection and disease incidence and hence to implement responsive management changes in a more timely manner.
  • HHM should be designed to reduce the losses from disease and reproductive failure arising from both single pathogens and more complex multifactorial or management challenges.
  • This can be achieved for diseases caused by a single pathogen by preventing the entry of the infection into the herd and by controlling and eradicating the disease where present.
  • Reducing the risk of multifactorial diseases may require changes to the management of herds and the environment and by using vaccines where appropriate.

Herd health process

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Herd health plans and farm assurance

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Measuring data for herd health

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Prioritization, risk assessment and benchmarking

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Manage

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Monitor

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Conclusions

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

Other sources of information

  • Cook N (2015) Population Medicine and Herd Health Planning. In: Bovine Medicine. 3rd edn. Wiley-Blackwell, UK. pp 280-290.
  • Green M J, Green L, Huxley J N, Statham J M E, Statham S (2012) Concepts in Dairy Herd health. In: Dairy Herd Health. Ed: Green M J. CABI, UK. pp 1-10.
  • Higgins H, Green M J & Madouasse A (2012) Facilitating Change in Herd Health. In: Dairy Herd Health. Ed: Green M J. CABI, UK. pp 11-34.
  • Statham J M E (2015) Practice Based Dairy Health Planning and Plans. In: Bovine Medicine. 3rd edn. Wiley-Blackwell, UK. pp 280-290.
  • Statham J M E (2017) Dairy Herd Health Management: An Overview. In: Achieving Sustainable Production of Milk Vol. 3: Dairy Herd Management & Welfare. Ed: Webster J. Burleigh Dodds, UK.


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