The health of crofting cattle herds and the threat from hidden disease will be the focus of two free meetings planned for Balivanich and Barvas by Scotland’s Rural College on the evenings of Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th July.
The meetings are organised by well known livestock health campaigner, Ian Pritchard, who runs the Premium Cattle Health Scheme for SAC Consulting, part of SRUC. It is all part of the effort to help crofters in the Western Isles produce quality, healthy animals.
“For many years, crofters in the Western Isles have recognised the merits of healthy livestock and have used the health scheme to test for disease,” says Ian.
“Biosecurity is an integral part of any health scheme protocols but the common grazings so important to crofting communities can offer particular challenges. Crofting members work closely with the PCHS to maintain standards and achieve the appropriate status for the various diseases that are tested for.”
Joining Ian will be a veterinary colleague from SAC Consulting, Katy Hewitson, together with Dr Kim Davies from the Scottish Government BVD team, and Bridget Girvan, MSD Animal Health Veterinary Adviser. All will be ready to answer the many questions expected during any visit to the area.
Under discussion at the meetings will be two particular infectious diseases that reduce productivity and increase herd losses. The first, Johnes (pronounced yoan-ese), is a disease that can take years to reveal itself, by which time it is costly to address. The meetings will explore how crofters who choose to retain their heifer calves as herd replacements can achieve and maintain good herd status.
The second disease is BVD – Bovine Viral Diarrhoea – which is at the centre of a Scotland wide testing and eradication campaign now entering its final phase.
“As we enter Phase 4 of the Scottish BVD eradication programme we will talk about the implications for crofters of ensuring a known BVD status for any sale,” continued Ian.
“Kim Davies is one of the Scottish Government’s experts on this. From MSD Bridget Girvan will explain the merits of vaccinating against BVD.”
While the meetings are free there will be food provided. In order to help those organising catering, anyone planning to attend is asked to register by ringing 01467 625385 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting their local SAC Consulting office.
Meetings – 6.30pm on Tuesday 28th July at An Caladh, Balivanich; and 6.30pm on Wednesday 29th July at Barvas Hall.