3. Ensuring Animal Health

Animal health starts with good husbandry practices

Farmers should regularly monitor the health and welfare of their animals. Appropriate professional veterinary advice should be sought where necessary on the effective prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease.

 

Management

Animal health is a precondition for animal welfare . A good welfare status will help the animal to maintain its natural resistance against diseases and good health is a precondition for the well being of an anim al. Both health and welfare are much influenced by the way animals are kept and must be in compliance with existing best practices. Environmental conditions including temperature, humidity, clean air and bedding, amount of light, etc. should be adapted to the animal’s needs. Equally important are the availability of clean water, an adequate diet, and enough space to walk and rest. Stress should be avoided as it will have a negative effect the animal’s resistance against infections. .

Furthermore, proper monitoring of the animals and keeping records of the observations made is essential for an early diagnosis of conditions affecting the animal’s health and welfare. A well-designed animal health plan is a key element for every farm.

 

Biosecurity

A special point of attention in keeping animals free of infectious diseases is biosecurity.

The purpose of biosecurity is to minimise the potential for introducing disease-causing organisms onto the holding by newly purchased animals, people, vehicles and pets, to mention but a few. Relatively simple measures can be taken without excessive financial investments and these can be very effective and helpful in ensuring the health of animals. Even where a measure doesn’t seem to be completely e ective, it does not mean that it is worthless. A limited reduction of the risk of introduction of germs is much better than no reduction at all.

 

 

Vaccines

Vaccines are very valuable tools in the prevention and control of many infectious diseases . They are safe and effective in enhancing animals’ resistance against infections.

However, there are several diseases for which no vaccines are (yet) available. In these cases other means of prevention and control, including the use of veterinary medicines, e.g. antibiotics, may be required.

This applies for situations like:

acute infections, which require immediate treatment;

emerging diseases

Acting through the natural immune system, their use should always be considered in the context of a broader. Other measures, such as good hygiene, good animal husbandry and disease monitoring are equally important parts of disease prevention program. The optimal strategy depends on the local situation on the farm, and also on factors such as area animal density, presence of pathogens in wildlife, availability of reliable tests, etc. Adequate monitoring of vaccinated animals an essential part of a vaccination program.

 

Veterinarian/farmer interaction (animal health plan)

An open communication between the farmer and the veterinarian is essential in order to achieve optimal animal health. It must take place at regular intervals and not only when a problem occurs. When approriate other experts, such as those on housing, feed, nutrition hygiene, etc., should be consulted.

The information obtained from the farmer together with the details obtained by the examination of the animals and local circumstances will allow the veterinarian to propose an optimal solution for a sustainable improvement of the animals’ health and welfare. The records also assist the farmer in demonstrating compliance with good farming practice.