A Basic Introduction to Cost Effective Animal (Livestock) Health
Maintaining healthy stock ensures continued growth or milk production, timely management of sick stock minimises treatment cost and potential revenue losses.
The financial and emotional impact of livestock health issues can be huge if not caught and treated early. A robust animal health programme relevant for location, operation type and size is critical to minimising the risk of disease and death for livestock on any farming operation and maintaining profitability.
Regular animal weighing is a highly effective early warning system for potential health concerns. If all other factors (eg: feed) remain consistent, weight loss can be a strong indicator of impending problems.
Including a regular weighing programme as part of the farming operation enables possible condition issues to be picked up much quicker and more accurately than the traditional visual checks. For example, some animals are more susceptible to certain parasites than others and through regular weighing this can often be picked up and those animals treated specifically, outside of whole herd/flock treatments.
Timely management of sick stock minimises recovery costs and time as well as the lost revenue (milk not in the vat, or dry stock missing weight targets).
Aside from using weighing information to monitor weight loss, a proactive programme can assist with many other aspects of herd performance management for example:
- Sale or Slaughter decisions – being able to select animals for sale or slaughter based on current weight and average daily weight gains
- Feeding programme impact – determine success of different feeding programmes; also enables selection of stock for preferential feeding (eg: achieve premium meat prices based on works target weight ranges)
- Breeding plan outcomes – select preferred genetics based on weight gain performance
- Mating preparation - ensure stock are at the optimum weight range recommended for improved reproductive success. Once pregnant, maintaining livestock health also shows positive results in reducing abortion rates and improving birthing ease and recovery rates post birth.
Electronic Identification – cost or investment?
With the ever increasing global population, safe guarding agricultural outputs everywhere is becoming ever more critical to our ability to continue to feed the world. As a result many governments have already or are in the process of implementing mandatory traceability schemes using Electronic Identification Tags for each individual animal.
Whilst there is an inevitable extra cost for farmers to comply with these requirements, leading farms are finding ways to turn this compulsory cost into an investment. Beyond pure compliance these tags enable farm owners to manage their herds down to an individual stock unit level by significantly reducing the labour requirements over conventional manual recording techniques.
With EID combined with a weight management regime farmers can:
- Reduce time and effort in the yard – system reads fast and efficiently, automatically matching weights to animal ID numbers
- Improve accuracy – removes human error and prevents incomplete & inaccurate records
- Improved access to animal information – review full weight history for individual animals, mobs or whole herd
- Immediate in-yard information & decision marking – display weight performance progress – identify poor performers straight away and treat or allocate to different feeding groups.
- Accurate health treatments – maximise treatment efficiency and reduce wastage
Gallagher offers a range of solutions that assist with weighing and electronic identification activity. From easy to use weigh only systems, through handheld devices that provide simple compliance, all the way to fully automated combined weighing and EID setups. Read more about the different solutions available here and determine which one is right for your operation.