maintaining herd health what is important for the herdRegardless of the livestock you are keeping it is always important to maintain optimum herd health. Having so many animals in a dedicated space can mean that disease can spread like wildfire if given the chance.

Further, reproduction can escalate out of control if not kept in check which could further damage the herd, spreading undesirable genetic disorders or making the herd compete for valuable resources.

4 Key Steps for Maintaining a Healthy Herd

Get a Baseline

The first step for making and keeping a healthy herd is to get a good baseline or starting point. It is always recommended to have a trained veterinary staff come to your farm to take measurements so that you know where you are starting from. Some measurements the veterinary staff might take include targeted blood samples (to look for BVD or leptospirosis), bulk milk testing (to look for fluke, IBR, worms, or salmonellosis), individual milk testing (to search for Johne’s neosporosis), or possibly ear notch testing (to look for BVD). One or several of these tests might be conducted. Once the samples return you will have a better idea of what type of treatment plan and/or vaccinations may be required to achieve and maintain optimum herd health.

Prevent New Disease

When a farmer introduces new livestock into the herd, this can be a prime opportunity for new disease to enter as well. Most people do not complete a full wellness check or administer a panel of vaccinations to new herd members prior to their introduction. This is a key step when trying to eliminate the spread of new disease. At the minimum, livestock quarantine should be set up to prevent any contact between new and existing herd members. A similar panel of tests should be performed on the newest members to ensure new diseases are not being introduced. If a disease is found, it should be treated and vaccinated immediately to prevent the spread to the existing herd.

Stop Current Disease

Vaccines should be viewed as a regular part of herd health but by no means the only way to ensure a healthy herd. A veterinarian should regularly be part of the decisions to vaccinate and treat the herd for any diseases. Because many vaccinations must be administered on a routine, a veterinarian should be consulted to help establish a regular cycle to ensure that the herd is being properly vaccinated. One tip that helps is to link important vaccination dates with holidays. If you remember that the vaccine occurs on St. Patrick’s Day, you will be more likely to remember the important date in the future.

Monitor

The last step to maintaining a healthy herd is to monitor the health regularly. Because diseases can appear at any time, it is always important to stay vigilant and aware of any sudden changes in your livestock. Due to the close nature of a herd, one disease can quickly spread endangering the remaining herd. If you suspect that there may be disease within the herd it is always best to contact your veterinarian immediately for help.

If you would like to learn more about a veterinary service that can provide information and help managing your herd health, feel free to reach out to the professionals at Mount Vernon Animal Hospital. Their website, mvah.net, has a full list of herd services available to keep your herd active and healthy today.