Do you have a herd health plan for your dairy farm?
As dairy goat farms/producers become more progressive and milk yields increase, we frequently see more herd related issues dealing with animal disease and productivity. Examples include increased mortality (adult and kid), poor milk quality, nutritional problems (i.e. pregnancy toxemia), and fertility issues (i.e. abortion). Creating and following a herd health plan will benefit your operation by providing good animal health, welfare and production while balancing competitive economic returns. The proper development of a herd health plan involves a team approach involving your veterinarian, nutritionist, equipment dealer, management team (family and/or employees), financial advisor and any other people/organizations who bring value to your operation. A herd health plan needs to be customized to your dairy herd-your plan will not be the same as other dairy goat producers.
What does it take to create a herd health team?
What is a Herd Health Program?
"Objective is the maintenance of animal health and production at the most efficient level that provides competititve economic returns to the animal owner."
As part of your management team, your financial advisor will prompt you to maintain more detailed records and he/she can assist you in analyzing those records to show what parts of your operation are the most or least profitable.
Your herd health plan should take into consideration the following aspects of your operation:
It is often said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The diagram below highlights the economic impact of preventative strategies.
Figure 1: Adapted from the Canadian Dairy Information Centre
For example, routinely performing post mortems can help with the early identification of disease before it spreads through your herd. In many situations, dollars spent determining the cause of one death will save a producer even more in terms of preventing future animal losses.
Future issues of the Dairy Goat Digest will expand on various topic areas mentioned in this article.
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