DEAR SIR: We are participating in the Knowledge Transfer Programme and were in the previous discussion groups with Teagasc. If a couple of points can be taken from a meeting and make a farmer think about what he or she is doing at home, it is well worthwhile.

Also, the BDGP is very useful, as it gradually improves the quality of the herd. Initial scares that came up at meetings, such as when people said that they had two-star cows producing great cattle, were unfounded, as they were not obliged to get rid of such cows but only to bring up the percentage of high-star cows in the herd over a few years. Technology can help us.

I make these positive points to contrast it with the health plan that we completed the other day for Knowledge Transfer. Our son, Michael, who is currently in the Teagasc/Irish Farmers Journal BETTER Farm programme and has an open mind to improvement, completed it with a pleasant, young vet.

It consisted of a box-ticking exercise and was done in 15 minutes, cost €180.

A few years ago, I had health issues like losing calves, cows not going in calf, scour and the like. Our vet suggested a random 10% blood test on the herd to see what comes up. This helped to identify the problems and was a positive vet input.

Could something like this have been used in this case, and farmers would not be left with their mouths open as the vet left the yard and feeling they’ve been taken for mugs? Will this happen every year, or does it suffice for a few years? It is not the fault of the vets. Who would not look a gift horse in the mouth? Have we any farm organisations representing us?