The newly formed UK wide group Ruminant Health & Welfare (RH&W) has launched a survey to identify disease priorities across the ruminant sectors and inform efforts to tackle health challenges eroding performance and welfare on farms.
Disease and reputational challenges cost the UK cattle and sheep sectors at least £500m a year. RH&W was established to co-ordinate and focus the UK’s farming industry on eradicating and controlling damaging cattle and sheep diseases.
The survey, which will enable mapping of risk factors which will feed into RH&W’s future priorities and activities, as well as research programmes, only takes around 20 minutes to complete and gives participants a chance to win a farmhouse hamper worth £50. It closes on 10 January 2021 and can be completed at: https://ruminanthw.org.uk/index.php/health_welfare_survey/.
“This is very much a grassroots survey,” says Nigel Miller, chairman of RH&W. “We would like to balance current evidence with a better understanding of the views of farmers, shepherds, herd managers and farm vets – those who work closely with sheep and cattle on a daily basis.
“Through this we will be able to get a grip on what the greatest concerns are over industry-wide diseases and welfare impacts, while also identifying specific regional or sectoral disease issues in sheep and cattle,” he adds.
“Endemic diseases in ruminants do not respect country borders and are a significant concern to farmers, the wider industry, governments and consumers due to their impact on animal health, welfare and food production.”
Gwyn Jones, vice chairman of RH&W explained that participants in the survey will be asked to review a range of diseases and conditions, based on their impact on productivity and contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
She added: “We want to know what you believe are the most important challenges and any others which should be included. Bovine TB obviously presents overwhelming pressure on many producers but we are seeking views on other diseases which reduce production efficiency in the sheep and cattle sectors,”