Protecting animal welfare and improving farming productivity are closely linked; healthy animals are naturally more productive. The resulting environmental benefits of lower carbon footprints of food from animal agriculture can bolster farm businesses.
Cross-sector collaboration is key to improving animal health and welfare. The development of the Animal Medicines Best Practice (AMBP) Programme – led by NOAH in partnership with stakeholders from across the industry including farmers, vets, regulators and leading academics – has created a training programme for the sheep, dairy, beef and pig sectors in the responsible use of antibiotics.
Farmers can participate in training online, or vets can make use of resources to work with their clients. Either way, this training is recognised as a mark of assurance, for example by Red Tractor. It raises awareness, knowledge and understanding of antimicrobial resistance and helps drive best practice in a consistent manner across UK farms.
Vaccinating livestock to control disease and prevent loss
Stakeholders are working together to control endemic disease on a national level. NOAH has been running a campaign promoting a three-step approach of ‘Stop, Equip and Treat’ as its Blueprint for Animal Health. Underlying ’responsible use’ principles, is the prevention of disease where possible, for example, by vaccinations and improved biosecurity.
New vaccine technologies not only help control disease on individual farms but are necessary for national disease eradication plans, which in turn can allow us to trade more freely with other countries.
However, while there have been successes, a lack of joined-up thinking over successive governments has failed to drive sustained improvements in productivity from the national herd. New direction and opportunities for UK livestock farming, coupled with available technology to control diseases, means this could now be possible.
Good vaccination strategies to support pig farms across UK
Pigs face a range of disease challenges. Farm-specific solutions are built around good biosecurity, husbandry, nutrition and the herd health plan. Vaccination strategies to protect breeding pigs, piglets and growing pigs are central to disease control.
Safe and affordable chickens and eggs
In the UK, almost half the meat we consume is from poultry. We also eat over 12 billion eggs annually. The poultry sector plays a major role in providing safe and affordable food. To meet this demand, strict biosecurity and management systems have been developed. Vaccination is a core part of poultry flock health planning, not only benefiting poultry health and welfare directly, but also safeguarding us, the consumer.
UK as centre for animal welfare and innovation
The UK has global centres of excellence for life sciences and agricultural technologies. New animal health products and services are needed to address disease challenges. Incentives to stimulate innovation must be developed and business R&D spend needs to be able to focus on innovation.
Our vision to be at forefront of UK animal health and welfare
With a clear vision, delivered collaboratively, UK farming looks set to gain from further investment in animal medicines. This will improve animal health and welfare, aid productivity and deliver environmental benefits.