Optimum health of animals is a key factor underpinning animal performance. This statement is relevant right throughout the year but its importance increases as we head into the winter with underlying health issues frequently gaining a foothold and becoming more established when animals are faced with stressful factors such as a significant change in environment and diet.

The most vulnerable group are young animals, particularly weanlings. With reports of increased health problems in weanlings in recent years, this supplement focuses heavily on the statement prevention is the best cure. Damien Barrett from the Sligo Regional Veterinary Laboratory outlines the main risk factors contributing to pneumonia, with his case study detailing animals under the greatest risk and the parameters most likely to trigger an outbreak.

The Journal Vet looks at vaccination options, detailing products on the Irish market while also offering tips to help reduce the risk of health issues becoming established.

There has been a marked east versus west divide throughout the summer and continuing into autumn, with farms in the west and those on marginal lands in particular faced with high volumes of rainfall, lower grass growth rates and reduced animal performance. This is also likely to contribute to health issues, with a greater threat of liver fluke already raised by many vets.

Phelim O’Neill looks at the high cost implications of losses due to liver fluke and profiles some steps being taken at industry level to get useful information collected at slaughter returned to farmers, while we also look at treatment options to guard against a potential increased threat of liver fluke.

The topic of BVD vaccination is also returning to the fore, with fears over outbreaks in naive herds. While impressive improvements have been made, there are concerns the requirement to test calves under the BVD Eradication Programme could linger in the longer term due to persistently infected animals being retained at farm level.

Maeve Regan highlights the timely topic of dog microchipping and health tips with compulsory chipping introduced last Tuesday, 1 September. And Edgar Garcia Manzanilla details a new initiative aimed at improving biosecurity in pigs.

Click here for more from our Animal Health 2015 special supplement