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    Working together to improve the disease status and profitability of south west farms

    The Healthy Livestock project is focused on controlling the incidence of mastitis, lameness, BVD, Johne's disease and respiratory diseases in cattle and lameness, nutrition, breeding and parasite control in sheep, by providing up to 70% funding towards vet and adviser consultations, diagnostic tests, farmer discussion groups and a programme of training events. The sheep sector is served through focus farms and a specialist sheep veterinarian. The project is delivered through local consultants, vets and training groups.

    Healthy Livestock is a Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE)-funded project, developed by a range of organisations and led by the Rural Business School as part of the South West Healthy Livestock Initiative (SWHLI).

    Please note: our remit does not cover Bovine TB; for help with this please contact the South West TB Farm Advisory Service: www.southwest-tbadvice.co.uk

    Latest News

    Vet's view

    I see the declaration of herd health status becoming a necessity in the future, so part funded health schemes such as the Healthy Livestock project are a great chance to start on this path. Not only will this help improve animal health standards, but it will also result in a higher end value.

    – Patrick McCotter, Animal Veterinary Services, Hayle.

    The Healthy Livestock project has created an opportunity to engage with farmers who we may only see at TB testing or for occasional emergency work, and take a more proactive approach to herd health. There are many very costly diseases that are endemic in the UK, and the results of the screening tests for BVD and Johne's disease (which the project partially funds), have been a real eye opener for many farms. In all cases where disease has been found, the farmers have been very positive about tackling the problem, and the initial group meetings allow a forum for discussion and sharing of experiences. It's always good to know that there are others in the same boat!

    – Bryony Williams, Calweton Veterinary Group, Cornwall

    The great thing about the Healthy Livestock initiative is that it enables our practice to perform preventative medicine on BVD, Mastitis, Johne's, and Lameness in greater depth. Some might find it quite prescriptive, but it guarantees a comprehensive approach to all our farmers.

    – Peter Plate, Damory Vets, Blandford.

    The South West Healthy Livestock Initiative has been a great project for us and our clients.  The group training and farm meetings provide a comprehensive and systematic approach for us to educate and involve our farmer's. The added incentive of part funding has allowed us to reach out to clients who have not previously been interested in herd health planning.  The scheme has been a good introduction, for our farmers, to several major diseases and their cost implications. After participating in the SWHLI many of our farmers have been keen to progress further with disease surveillance and eradication utilising the VLA's HerdSure scheme. Any farms in the area who are keen to participate can find out more on our website www.dartvalevets.co.uk/swhli.

    – Chris Bamford, Dart Vale Veterinary Group, Totnes.

    A large part of my work at the moment is co-ordinating our participation in the Healthy Livestock scheme. Our vets are trained deliverers for all (BVD, Johnes, Lameness, Mastitis and Respiratory) strands, so by a combined effort of the whole farm animal team at Girling & Bowditch, we can aim to not only provide training and guidance for our own clients, but contribute towards the health of livestock within the South West area.

    – Fiona Lord, Veterinary nurse, Girling & Bowditch, Beaminster.

    Here at Harleigh Vets we have been busy implementing the SWHLI strands to our dairy and beef clients over the past few months. Our farmer uptake has been quite high, with group meetings well attended, and a few farmers taking the opportunity to be involved with as many strands as possible. From the vets point of view it has been an excellent chance to spend more time on farm looking at the main diseases facing our herds, and more importantly being able to formulate action plans with our farmers to help reduce the levels of disease. We are also going to be offering Sheep, and Beef respiratory disease strands in the upcoming months. We would welcome any of our clients who wish to know more about the SWHLI to contact us at the practice.

    – Ben Hutley, Harleigh Vets, Cornwall.

    On most farms diseases such as mastitis, lameness, BVD, Johne's and pneumonia can spell the difference between an enterprise that just manages to survive and one that will thrive.  The farms that will prosper in the future will take the initiative now to control these threats.  By taking part in the Healthy Livestock Project farmers can get a head start by building a control plan that will last them long into the future.

    – Kumar Sivam, Kenwyn Veterinary Centre, Cornwall.

    It has been a good chance to do more to help our beef clients who we don't get to see as regularly as our dairy clients. We have been impressed with the uptake of the scheme and the positive feedback from our clients who have realised what a valuable opportunity this is.

    – John Remnant, Langford Vet Practice, Somerset.

    We have thoroughly enjoyed getting involved with the Healthy Livestock initiative at Luxstowe vets. We have found it has allowed us to get more involved in the management of disease on our farms where we weren't doing this already - and has aided our investigations and management on farms where we already are. Finding low disease prevalence is always rewarding for farmers and we can then help put measures in place to ensure that things stay this way.

    – Emily Shaw, Luxstowe Vets, Liskeard.

    Healthy Livestock is a very good initiative, because it helps engage farmers in areas of their business and improve husbandry that they may not have otherwise focussed on. It puts a comprehensive plan in place, with the necessary support. The existing programmes have a clear structure supported by the team at Duchy College which will ultimately drive animal health and welfare in the south west.

    – Patrick Traill, Veterinary Services Manager, Mole Valley farmers.

    A good opportunity for vets to explain disease processes in detail to farmers  -thereby involving them more intimately than normal in the decisions taken about how to control infectious disease on their farms and the reasons behind the advice that we as vets give to our farm clients on a daily basis. The European sponsorship allows us as vets to give our time and knowledge at a very economic cost to the client.

    – Paul Martin, North Park Vets, North Tawton.

    The Healthy Livestock initiative has encouraged our already proactive client base to further their knowledge of animal health issues. This has resulted in positive benefits to their farm enterprises and satisfaction in their roles.

    – Michael Head, Shepton Veterinary Group, Shepton Mallett.

    Healthy Livestock gives farmers and their vets the opportunity to address important diseases on farm, and reduce the losses these conditions cause. The central funding means that the costs to the farmer are reduced by 70%. BVD is the most costly endemic viral disease of cattle in the UK, and Johne's disease is an often underestimated cause of significant ongoing losses in adult cattle. Healthy Livestock uses the myhealthyherd website to put in place control plans for both these important infectious diseases. The DairyCo Mastitis Control Plan, a comprehensive review of mastitis and its underlying causes, is used to really get to grips with the reasons behind mastitis and cell count problems on farms. The lameness component of the scheme uses mobility scoring to assess lameness levels, and then, with training in foot trimming and other areas, gives farmers the skills to improve their herd mobility scores. In our practice, we have found Healthy Livestock a very useful way to help engage farmers and get health planning on farm to reduce the economic losses caused by these key diseases.

    – Charlie Sullivan, Torbridge Veterinary Group, South Molton.

    Farmers are completely welcoming the Healthy Livestock initiative from Duchy College's Rural Business School and ADAS. Not only are they excited that vets and the industry are showing a big interest in their business, they are also grateful of the mass of up to date information that they are receiving in the meetings and through the health plans. The discussion format and farm walks have created interest and are far more attractive to farmers than straight literature. The farmers that have attended have found them really useful and are recommending further meetings to their neighbours - all in all an excellent project. As a result we have had more uptake of flock health plans with a view to using them as a working document and not just a paper exercise.

    – Phillipa Lord, Wood Veterinary Group, Gloucestershire.

    This Project is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for European Development 2007 - 2013: Europe investing in rural areas.
    The project is being delivered through the South West Regional Development Agency with Defra as the Managing Authority