Report Synopsis

Assess The Role Of Milk Screening For Disease Within The Development Of An Effective Herd Health System

Ailish Moriarty

The agricultural landscape has changed significantly over the past five years as milk production increased after the ending of milk quotas in 2015, and with much greater consumer interest and scrutiny in how food is produced. Food processors are actively taking steps to guarantee the integrity of their products to avoid any repeat of food and health scares which occurred in some countries.

There is increased attention from regulatory authorities and consumers on animal health and welfare, food safety and concerns about antimicrobial resistance and climate change. In addition, social media provides access to a wider audience for accurate and inaccurate stories about food production methodology. Therefore, it is vital that herd health is put to the top of the farming agenda.

One of the ways to determine herd health is through milk surveillance or milk screening for disease. The objective of the report is to provide an overview of what milk surveillance schemes exist across the world and examine how such an approach can encourage farmers to be more proactive in managing herd health. Options are explored on how various stakeholders can work together and engage to achieve better herd health outcomes. A more pro-active risk-based approach like the United Kingdoms’ National Johne’s Programme, is testament that through collaboration between the farmer, veterinarian (vet) and the dairy industry an improvement in herd health is attainable.

Streamlined capture and use of data is an essential component in milk and herd surveillance and this was effectively demonstrated in Denmark utilising the national Danish Cattle Database. Evidence-based decision support is a core element to enable farmer and vet to develop coherent action plans, the value and merit of this was illustrated through My Healthy Herd.com. An aim is to address how milk surveillance schemes can make the best use of advanced digital communications, precision and new generation testing technologies.

The over-riding objective is to learn from best practice in herd health in other leading dairy countries and through focused independent travel on good standards for public health and well-developed dairy industries useful case studies have been incorporated within the report which can demonstrate insight into effective herd health systems.

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