It’s hard to be prescriptive and absolutely definitive on animal health as on-farm issues sometimes jump up and bite when you are least expecting them. Weather, a change to a farm building, new animals coming into a herd or flock, or even a new person doing some work on the farm all can affect herd health in an unplanned way.

The objective of the Engage programme as outlined in case studies in these pages is to reduce the amount of antibiotics used, and, more importantly the amount of critically important antibiotics used on farms.

At the launch of Project Engage last year on the farm of Brian Cleary, Bunmahon, Co Waterford, were beef farmer Ann Dunphy, Kill, Co Waterford; Ger Cusack, Comeragh Veterinary, Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford; host farmer Brian Cleary; Fred Moore; Sinead Quealy, Virtual Vets; Jimmy Cleary; Chris McGrath, Comeragh Veterinary, Kilmacthomas; Pat Dunphy, Kill, Co Waterford; John Salmon, Riverview Veterinary Group, Bandon, Co Cork; dairy farmer Niall Moore, Annestown, Co Waterford; John Healy, Glasslyn Veterinary Clinic, Bandon, Co Cork; dairy farmer John Cummins, Kilmacthomas; and vet Tommy Heffernan. Project Engage is an XLVets initiative in collaboration with the Irish Farmers Journal. \ Donal O’Leary

Vet Tommy Heffernan started this project in conjunction with XLVets using the Virtual Vet platform at the end of last year. The farmers involved are allowing data from their farms be collated and used for this year one pilot project.

Animal health often plays a hidden but significant role at farm level and touches off some of the most basic building blocks of the sector.

Without measurement it’s hard to change. Sharing knowledge should help. Animal health affects farm resources, sustainability, finance and much more.

No matter what agri sector we look at – the suckler, the dairy or the pig and poultry sector – all need to be top of class on animal health

Preventative medicine has come a long way, and farmers can see the benefits more and more, especially when it’s tied in with a national programme for management or eradication.

No matter what agri sector we look at – the suckler, the dairy or the pig and poultry sector – all need to be top of class on animal health.

All the innovative initiatives each year are coming closer to reality, whether it’s Protective Geographical Indication (PGI) status for beef, selective dry cow therapy in cows or antibiotic-free pigs or poultry, these need top class management and measurement.

Staying best of class on animal health is critical. Farmers at the coalface must meet the challenge.

Read more

Project Engage launched

Watch: increasing output and performance in a Cork dairy herd

Project Engage is changing mindsets on antibiotic usage