Disease? Not On My Farm! Ambassador Blog
Farmers have their say on 2022 priorities
As part of our ‘Stepping up in 2022’ campaign, Disease? Not On My Farm! asked farmers on social media to share their priority focus areas for the next 12 months.
Across Facebook and Twitter, followers were asked how they’re looking to improve their herd and flock during 2022 – and the results are in! Here, we review the answers and provide some top tips from our Disease? Not On My Farm! ambassadors on how they achieve their goals.
Why have business goals?
Taking a step back from the day-to-day and noting what areas of the farm you and the team may want to prioritise can be a positive step. It doesn’t have to be a big goal – you can start by having the conversation with your wider team and your vet. More tips on setting SMART goals can be found here.
We asked dairy farmers what they have planned for their herd in 2022:
- Improve herd health
- Improve herd genetics
- Increase yield
- Grow the herd
The most common answer – from 34% of respondents – said ‘improve herd health’; followed by ‘increase yield’. The Disease? Not on My Farm! ambassadors are all advocates for preventative herd health, with many of the dairy ambassadors vaccinating against endemic diseases such as BVD, IBR, leptospirosis and salmonella.
“The place to start is sitting down with your vet and identifying the disease risks to your farm, reviewing current vaccination programmes,” says Fraser Jones, who milks 1,000 Holstein/Friesians in Welshpool.
“I work closely with our vet Oli on all aspects of herd health – we annually review plans and protocols, making small tweaks to see big returns. And, if increasing yield is top of the list, prioritising herd health will definitely reap the rewards!”
For flock goals, we wanted to know which of these would top the priority list:
- Improve fertility
- Reduce lameness
- Increase finishing weight
- Increase size of flock
33% of those who answered rated ‘improve fertility’ as the top goal, but this was closely followed by ‘reduce lameness’ from 32%.
If looking to reduce lameness rates, consider the 5 Point Plan, adopted by ambassador Rhydian Glyn. It’s a long-term management programme designed to reduce lameness in the flock and includes vaccinating, testing and quarantining lame sheep.
Our followers were asked which of the following is the number one focus when it comes to youngstock:
- Daily liveweight gain (DLWG)
- Colostrum management
- Preventative healthcare
- Improve environment
The results were close, with 37% opting for ‘colostrum management’, narrowly followed by 29% for ‘preventative healthcare’. One follower commented that focussing on DLWG would by default encompass several other management areas.
Disease? Not on My Farm? Ambassadors Gemma and Mike King put colostrum management at the top of their priority list, as Gemma notes.
“Good colostrum is key to scour control as it provides greater immunity, so we harvest and freeze the colostrum so there’s a plentiful supply.
“If looking to improve your farm, I would recommend purchasing a refractometer to measure colostrum quality. Prior to feeding newborn calves, measure colostrum, ensuring it has a Brix value above 22% to give the required level of antibody protection. We also keep a stock of powdered colostrum so we can boost any milk that’s a little bit on the low side.”
Those with beef cattle we asked what they had their sights on achieving in 2022:
- Improve fertility
- Reduce inputs
- Prioritise herd health
- Increase size of herd
‘Reduce inputs’ led the way with 36% of the votes, followed by prioritising herd health. One of the longest-serving ambassadors, Ian Alderson, believes that working closely with the vet on herd health is key to seeing improvements in productivity.
“We work with Marches Veterinary Group to implement our vaccination programme, which includes vaccinating cattle against pneumonia, rotavirus and coronavirus. It’s integral to the productivity of our suckler herd.”
Whatever you’re hoping to achieve during the rest of the year, you can keep us updated by sharing your latest updates on our social media channels