Thursday, 04 March 2021 11:55

Good herd health vital

Written by  Staff Reporters
Animal health is a big cost on-farm and good herd health is crucial to optimise performance, says WelFarm general manager Samantha Tennent. Animal health is a big cost on-farm and good herd health is crucial to optimise performance, says WelFarm general manager Samantha Tennent.

Samantha Tennent is the new general manager of WelFarm, XLVets’ assurance programme.

WelFarm has been used on-farm since 2014 and is available to all farmers and veterinarians, utilising data collected throughout the season to benchmark farms nationally and regionally.

Tennent, who has a background in veterinary technology, says that the programme and others like it is proving vital on-farm.

“With the increased scrutiny on our dairy sector to prove our farmers are operating sustainably and to continue our access to export markets, it is even more important we have the evidence that we are looking after our animals to a high standard.

“Animal health is also a big cost on-farm and good herd health is crucial to optimise performance,” she says.

She says she looks forward to the opportunity to lead the programme.

“The opportunity to help drive WelFarm intrigued me given my background and passion for dairy and I’m really excited to raise awareness across the sector and get more farmers into the programme.”

Tennent previously worked as an animal developer for DairyNZ, managing their InCalf programme.

WelFarm has been used on-farm since 2014 and is available to all farmers and veterinarians, utilising data collected throughout the season to benchmark farms nationally and regionally.

This helps identify areas where farm productivity and animal wellness could be optimally through effecting change.

It is also designed to support farmers who are making improvements through goals, showing them whether their efforts are succeeding.

“We know small shifts in in-calf rates, reducing somatic cell counts, reducing mastitis and increasing milksolids all have significant impact on performance and profitability, and how we use antibiotics and other drugs is continually under the microscope,” says Tennent.

She says she encourages farmers to discuss with their vets whether they are already offering the programme and vets to get in touch if they want more information and support to implement it in their clinic.

“It’s a great initiative and the only one of its kind in New Zealand. Without the data and benchmarking we don’t know what good actually looks like and whether our efforts to improve are having an effect. WelFarm provides that platform and assurance across the sector and to the consumer with regard to food safety, animal health and well-being.”

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