The top 10 cattle health and welfare problems facing both beef and dairy animals are identified in the first ‘state-of-the-nation’ report by the GB Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG),
as reported by the Veterinary Record (15 September 2012, p260). The industry-led body represents the interests of the cattle sector though it should be noted that the CHAWG also includes representation from the RSPCA.
The report, which was published during the Livestock 2012 event in Birmingham, provides a snapshot of cattle health and welfare in both the dairy and beef sectors in Great Britain. Great Britain is considered rather than the wider UK, because, the CHAWG explains, it comprises a discrete biosecurity unit.
CHAWG Chairman Tim Brigstocke notes that the report does not consider bovine TB, as the CHAWG felt that it would dominate all the other issues, and because there are already a number of bovine TB-specific groups and activities dealing with the problem.
To compile the lists of the top 10 health and welfare issues, a number of GB cattle sector organisations were asked to put forward those that they felt were the most important. Overall, common to both the beef and dairy sectors, were the issues of fertility, mastitis, bovine viral diarrhoea, Johne's disease, nutrition, calf pneumonia, calf scour and parasitic gastroenteritis or lungworm. Specific to the beef sector were the issues of infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and liver fluke, while lameness, bovine TB and genetics were specific to the dairy sector.
The report provides an overview of the cattle industry in terms of populations and holdings, breeds and exports and imports, as well as details of health planning and management. The top 10 welfare issues are also considered in detail. There is a section on horizon scanning, which identifies both emerging health and disease threats to the industry as well as emerging opportunities. Included among the emerging threats are Schmallenberg virus, bovine psoroptic mange, foot-and-mouth disease, bluetongue and Rift Valley fever. Other potential threats are identified as antimicrobial resistance, large herds, climate change and cattle movements. Herd health planning, the eradication of BVD and the potential for improved control of salmonellosis are identified among the possible positive opportunities.