Social Distancing Promotes Health – For Cows!

As people are encouraged to keep two metres apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19, an animal health research project is encouraging its participants to also try out more social distancing in cattle herds to ensure cows’ best possible health over the winter.

As the weather becomes colder, the thoughts of many cattle farmers will be turning to housing their stock. Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC)’s ‘Stoc+’ flock and herd health project has published a list of five tips to ensure cattle are in tip-top condition, including providing enough space for feeding.

Stoc+ project leader Dr. Rebekah Stuart said, “For optimum live-weight gain from your cattle over the winter months, feeding space is important, unless feed is available constantly. There must be sufficient space for all to feed at the same time, without shyer animals being bullied away. It’s also advisable to sort weaned youngstock into groups of similar size and weight.”

In addition to ensuring space for all to feed, according to HCC the four other key factors to consider when turning in livestock are trace element nutrition, pregnancy detection, avoiding lameness, and checking for parasites.

Rebekah explained, “Blood testing cows at housing will help identify any trace element deficiencies from grazing, and will allow plenty of time to correct this in time for spring calving. Housing time is also a good opportunity to check pregnancy of cows, and decide whether to serve them again or remove them from the herd if barren.”

“Treating and separating any lame cattle at this time should also have a positive impact on the overall health of the herd,” she added; “checking for fluke and mites, and consulting with vets on the best treatment, will also pay dividends in terms of keeping stock in the best condition over the winter.”

Further advice is available via the HCC website at https://meatpromotion.wales/en/industry-resources/beef-management.

HCC’s Stoc+ Project is a 5-year scheme, involving up to 500 Welsh farmers, which is part of its Red Meat Development Programme, supported by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.