Herd health and welfare

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Key actions

  • Know the common cattle diseases in your locality and whether they are likely to affect production.
  • Implement a disease management plan using veterinary advice.
  • Vaccinate against specific diseases that can infect cattle and people.
  • Seek veterinary advice for any unexplained health problem.
  • Develop a biosecurity plan to prevent the introduction of infectious diseases.
  • Review all factors affecting the welfare of your cattle herd.

Why is the health and welfare of your herd important?

A well planned approach to managing cattle health and welfare controls the risk of disease in a cost-effective way and maximises the production potential and profit of your herd.

In the arid zone, animal husbandry practices are carried out depending on seasonal conditions and usually each mob may only be handled in a yard once or twice a year. This means that the cattle health program generally revolves around ensuring animals have adequate feed and water, with less emphasis on specific disease management as in more intensively managed herds.

While the direct cost of managing diseases in beef herds appears relatively small, individual diseases and disorders can have a major financial impact on profitability.

This module outlines the key procedures required to manage a healthy beef cattle herd.

Manage cattle health and welfare to maximise herd profit.

Use a combination of disease prevention and treatment

A sound animal health management plan uses preventative approaches to avoid disease from striking, and early treatment in the event that it does.

If treatment is necessary, it should involve the use of as few chemicals as possible. Access to both domestic and export markets are dependent on beef being free from chemical and pesticide residues.

A small but increasing number of arid zone producers have gained organic accreditation for their beef enterprises, which places very strict limitations on the use of most chemicals. Also, the overuse of some chemicals to treat disease has led to them becoming ineffective (such as antibiotics) and there are few new options available to producers.

How does this module assist you?

This module describes how to prevent health problems in preference to reacting after disease has already affected the herd. It is based on:

  • knowing the conditions that can influence cattle health
  • applying the right management strategy or treatment when your cattle are at risk
  • preventing the introduction of infectious diseases onto the property.

Linkages to other modules

This module outlines the procedures required to manage a healthy cattle herd. Without implementing these procedures, producers cannot achieve the productivity gains possible when excess feed is available (see Module 2: Managing your feedbase), procedures to better utilise feed and optimising weaner throughput (see Module 5: Maximising weaner throughput).

Following the five procedures in this module will also help producers to meet market specifications (see Module 7: Meeting market specifications).

Principles and procedures of herd health and welfare

Procedures for managing the health and welfare of your herd