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Farm Health Plans: A practical guide is one of a range Animal Welfare Approved technical papersdesigned to provide practical advice and support to farmers. For more information visit ourwebsite.SHORT DESCRIPTION OF TECHNICAL PAPER CONTENTAbout this technical paperThis technical paper provides farmers who are participating in the Animal Welfare Approvedprogram with advice on the creating a dedicated farm health plan. Introducing a farm healthplan – and keeping it up to date – can help prevent health problems in livestock and significantlyimprove overall farm performance.KEYWORDSWelfare; farm and health plan; prevention (of pests and disease); positive health;

Animal Welfare Approved Technical Paper No. 14Farm Health Plans: A practical guideAnimal Welfare Approved has the most rigorous standards for farm animal welfarecurrently in use by any United States organization. Its standards have been developed incollaboration with scientists, veterinarians, researchers, and farmers across the globe tomaximize practicable, high-welfare farm management.What is a farm health plan?In all well-managed livestock systems the prevention – as opposed to the cure – of pestand disease problems is as important as high levels of management and husbandry.One way of ensuring that a preventative approach sits at the very heart of your farmmanagement is to develop an overall farm health plan.A farm health plan is a working document which explains the management strategy foryour livestock, written specifically for your farm. A good farm health plan should: Identify all significant livestock pest and disease problems that you might faceOutline how you intend to prevent their occurrenceExplain what treatments you will use if pest or disease problems do occurIdentify how you intend to improve overall herd or flock health – and reducereliance on veterinary treatments.Why have a health plan?One of the requirements of the Animal Welfare Approved standards is that themanagement of livestock on your farm should focus on promoting health rather thansimply treating disease. From a welfare standpoint, this means that you should maintainyour animals in a way so that don’t just ‘survive’ but so they thrive.This is sometimes known as the concept of ‘positive health’. Positive health is not justabout the absence of disease in an animal: it is about achieving a state where theanimal’s immune system can easily overcome everyday disease challenges.It is fair to say that, as farmers, if we see a health problem all the time – and lameness isa classic example – then we can start to ‘get used to it’, to accept it as the norm. But indoing so, we can also start to underestimate its importance in terms of animal welfare,as well as the negative impacts on farm performance. In some cases, our perception ofPCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

what is ‘acceptable’ within a herd or flock might actually include some animals that areactually clinically lame, for example.But by setting out the limits of acceptability on a range of health and welfare issues –and carrying out regular checks on known farm problems – we can start to get on top ofchronic problems on the farm – and improve overall farm performance.This is exactly what a farm and health plan sets out to achieve: it encourages you toassess the pest and disease risks on your own farm, to record and monitor theirincidence, and then enables you to use this information to make management changesor carry out veterinary intervention, if required. It will also help you to see if thesemanagement changes are working over time and the farm’s overall performance.The Animal Welfare Approved program requires every farmer to develop their own farmand health plan. To help you to create your own farm and health plan, Animal WelfareApproved has designed the following free templates: All species section Farm and Health PlanBeef Farm and Health PlanDairy Farm and Health PlanGoat Farm and Health PlanLaying Bird and Breeder Flocks Farm and Health PlanMeat Poultry Farm and Health PlanSheep Farm and Health PlanPig Farm and Health Plan.Each farm should complete the “All Species” template and then the individual speciesfarm and health plans relevant to their farm.While you don’t have to use these exact templates to produce your farm and healthplan, they provide a useful basic structure for any farm and health plan that you chooseto submit. You might find it useful to look at one of our farm and health plan templateswhile reading through this technical paper to give you an idea of the information youwill need to gather. If you don’t already have a copy, visit the Animal Welfare Approvedwebsite at: ents/If you have a good relationship with your vet – or have an expert livestock advisor – youmay want to get his or her advice. They can provide a lot of useful advice andinformation when developing and writing your plan.What are the everyday disease challenges on your farm?Part of the process of developing your farm and health plan is to determine the day-today challenges on your farm and to assess how big a risk they might be to your animals.PCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

A lot of general information exists on the key diseases or parasites that are prevalent inthe United States. But you’ll need to establish what diseases or pest problems areactually going to affect your specific farm and your animals.Start by listing the key pest and disease problems that you have experienced on yourfarm – and then the potential problems you might face in the future.Is there anything about the climate on your farm that makes some problems a biggerrisk? For example, if you are a sheep farmer on low lying land near a river you mighthave a greater risk of fly strike or fluke than a more exposed farm.Is there anything about your farm’s history that might affect health of your animals? Forexample, some diseases can lie dormant in the soil for years – anthrax is possibly thebest known example but more common issues could arise from clostridial diseases thatare also found in the soil. This information might be particularly important if you aremoving to a new farm, restocking or introducing new species.Ask yourself if any of your neighbours have livestock that could potentially be a sourceof disease for your own? For example, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome(PRRS) can potentially spread in the air from infected pigs two miles away. Think aboutthe potential risks beyond your farm’s immediate boundaries.Once you have a list of the range of health and welfare issues on the farm, you can thenstart to think about the prevention and treatments strategies that you’ll need to put inyour farm and health plan.What should I include in my health plan?As a rough guideline, the farm and health plan should firstly identify any disease andparasite problems and persistent mineral deficiencies that you know of – or could occur– on the farm.The plan should then outline the necessary husbandry and management strategies thatyou will need to treat these problems and/or to prevent them from occurring.For example, if internal parasites are a problem on the farm then list the specific pests –such as roundworms – and the specific worming program you might use in your healthplan. But as well as identifying treatments, you should also look ahead and think abouthow you might minimize problems in the future – and reduce your costs. In the case ofinternal parasites, you might want to adopt a clean grazing system and appropriatestocking levels.PCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

Do this for all known or possible pests and disease problems that you have identified foryour farm.Your health plan should also identify the different management practices for all ages ofstock, including the feeding regime, housing details, medication procedures, grazingpolicy and the management practices that will help to develop immunity. Include thingslike your selection policy for breeding, choice of pasture for young stock, and so on.Finally, your plan should explain your record keeping procedures, key responsibilitiesand the systems used so that everyone involved is clear about what is required of them.The Animal Welfare Approved farm and health plan templates include all these sections.So how do I do this in practice?Developing a farm and health plan for your own farm might seem a little intimidating atfirst. But many other farmers are already benefiting from developing their own plans.Using the Animal Welfare Approved templates can be a big help.Below, we have listed some ‘real life’ examples from farmers who have used ourtemplates. You might find it useful to have a copy of one of our templates on hand soyou can see the different sections and how the farmers have completed the forms.Background informationMost farm and health plans – including our templates – start by listing some keybackground information on your farm. This usually includes the farm name and address,as well as the name and contact numbers for key personnel. You could also list details ofother important farm contacts – such as your vet or feed suppliers, for example.You might want to then provide information on the number of animals and what breedsor types they are. Write down why you choose these breeds and how suitable they arefor the farm environment. Remember that different breeds have differentcharacteristics and they may be more or less susceptible to health issues – for example,some breeds of sheep like the Katahdin are thought to be more resistant to internalparasites.Criteria for cullingYou should also list other useful background information, such as the age of your herdor flock and an explanation of your criteria for culling.Sometimes when you have kept a herd or flock for a long time it is harder to makeobjective decisions about when an animal should be removed. Writing down the formalcriteria for culling in your farm and health plan can help you to focus on what you feelPCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

the important factors are across the herd or flock – and what you are trying to achieve.You can then apply these equally to all individuals.Put another way, you may have a favourite sow that you weren’t intending to cull. Butby referring to your culling criteria (see example 1 below) you might realize that whileshe consistently gets in pig, she only has six piglets each litter and then lies on at leasttwo of these. In terms of overall herd production she’s not a good one to keep.Example 1Herd age and cullingAverage age of sows (years or litternumber)Sows culled per year (number orpercentage)Oldest six years, some family lines are keptso have mother, daughter andgranddaughter.Not many culled per year as have beenincreasing up to 10 sows.Reasons for culling sows (e.g. barren, poor performance, etc.)Now the herd is at the right number sows will be culled on the following guidelines:Fertility – whether or not they get in pig.Poor mothering ability – if mortality is greater than 10% per litter.Poor litter size – if they have less than nine piglets, two litter running.Actual and target productionWe highly recommend that you include your ‘actual’ and ‘target’ production figures inyour farm and health plan (we include these in the Animal Welfare Approved template).This information is important for your business and you should really aim to reviewthem each year. If you are not meeting your target production levels – or your actualproduction seems to be getting worse – this could be an early warning of a diseaseoutbreak or sub-clinical disease problems (diseases which are affecting livestockproductivity but which are not yet making animals obviously sick).Let’s use ongoing fertility problems as an example – a common problem on many farms.Fertility problems are often a symptom of sub-clinical diseases among your herd or flockor mineral deficiencies on the farm. But if you’re not keeping track of what’s happeningthen you might not even realise you have a problem – or you might not notice until youhave a full blown disease outbreak.Let’s look at the next example:Example 2PCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

Production actual and target for sowsActual and target number of sows in herd6 actual (target 10)Actual and target number of piglets per litterCurrently around 1.7 onaverage (target 2)8 actual (target 9)Weaning age8 weeksMinimum condition score for service2.5Actual and target number of litters per sow per yearProduction actual and target for market pigsActual and target number of market pigs in herd17 odd at presentActual and target mortality (%) 10% pre weaning actualand target 2% post weaning actualand targetActual and target age at finishing (months/days)GiltBoarActual and target weight or weight band of finished pigs7 months actual6 months target6 months actual5 months target250-275lbsIn example 2, you can see that the farm is not currently meeting its targets for farrowingtwice yearly – or for growth of market pigs – although overall mortality appears low. Bysimply listing this information it is already clear that the farmer needs to look at thereasons for the production shortfalls – and address the problems.It is interesting to note that example 2 is the same farm as in example 1, where thefarmer has told us that some of their sows are up to six years old. Perhaps the age ofsome of the sows is the reason why they are not getting back in pig and it is time tobring in some younger replacements – and increase overall productivity.The point is that your farm and health plan can give you – and any advisor – anopportunity to assess what’s happening across your farm quickly and easily, helping youto spot any problem areas that need action.Listing procedures to deal with key problemsThe farm and health plan can also help you to anticipate any problems that might arisethroughout the year – and to put procedures in place so that everyone knows who todeal with them.Example 3PCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

LAMBSNavel treatments used10% IodineIf lambs cannot suckle:Three feeds in 24 hours – via stomachtube if lamb is weak.How much colostrum is given?Large lamb (average single) - about10 to 11 lbs; 200 ml each feed.Medium lamb (average twin) – about8lbs; 150 ml each feed.Small lamb (average triplet) - about 5to 6lbs; 100 ml each feed.For how long are they given colostrum?At least the first 24 hours.What are your emergency lamb rearing procedures? (Please state)The aim is to get any colostrum that is needed from the lamb’s own mother oranother ewe. If this is not possible then powdered colostrum is used (kept in stock).Each lamb is checked individually to ensure that it has got up and sucked.Once the lambs have had the required amount of colostrum (see above) they arestarted on warm milk from a bottle given three times daily. As they grow they arethen transferred to cold mixed milk replacer on an ad lib teat system. There are sixteats for 15 lambs (more than the recommended one teat for 3/4 lambs) and the ratioof lambs to teats ensures they do not gorge themselves on milk and make themselvesill.The lambs are given a litre a day of this cold milk which they can access throughoutthe day. They are also given home grown barley. The milk is continued until thepoint that they are eating more barley than drinking milk.In example 3, the farmer has written down their procedures for managing orphanlambs. Lambing time can be stressful and having clear protocols in place before you gointo it can help you to make sure you have everything ready and don’t have to try andcalculate the right amounts of colostrum for different sizes of lambs when you get anorphan in the middle of the night and don’t have anyone you can readily get in touchwith to check. Aside from helping you, it also means that anyone who joins the farm canread the plan and quickly understand the procedures involved with rearing the orphans.Health planning for fertility and reproductive disordersPCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

Let’s look at the specific health and disease problems that could occur on a farm andhow having a template of what you do – or would do – if or when a particular problemarises can really help. Look at example 4 below:Example 4:FERTILITY AND REPRODUCTIVE DISORDERSProblems seen: MetritisPlease state problems seen:Two sows that were brought into the herd suffered from metritis at farrowing – theyhad little milk, they had a discharge from the vulva and a high temperature. Theywere treated but were not kept.PreventionPlease state prevention measures adoptedNone needed: this is not a normal problem on farm.TreatmentPlease state treatments used.Penicillin was used at the time – twice daily injections for three days.Oxytocin was also used to promote milk let down – given as a 0.5ml injectionwhenever penicillin was used.As well as detailing the problem and the treatment – which in itself is a useful recordshould it ever arise again – the farm and health plan requires an explanation of whatprevention measures the farmer intends to adopt – again this means if the situationarises you already have a protocol and can get straight on with action to solve theproblem rather than trying to look things up or get in touch with someone to advise you.In example 4, the problem of metritis was seen on farm but only in brought in animals –not in home bred stock – so this is an example where there isn’t a need to necessarilythink of a preventative measure. Remember the templates provided by AWA are just aguide – you mustn’t feel that you have to write something in every box, only thesections that are relevant to your farm situation.Example 5 below is a different case altogether: the disease (a form of abortion found insheep) is not currently seen on the farm, but has been in the past. The farmer in thisinstance felt that the problem was still a risk for his flock so has taken the time to detaila preventative strategy:PCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

Example 5FERTILITY AND REPRODUCTIVE DISORDERSEnzootic abortionPlease state problem seenNot seen on farm now – was an issue five years ago.Treatments usedNot seen.Prevention MeasuresReplacement ewe lambs only bought in from a known source that is enzooticabortion free. The vet will carry out a blood test on any aborted and barren ewes forenzootic abortion and other abortion types, such as toxoplasmosis, to monitor for thisdisease.Health planning and lamenessCompare the following extracts from two different farm and health plans which look atlameness in cattle (example 6) and lameness in sheep (example 7):Example 6LAMENESSWhat were the main causes of lameness in the herd (please complete appropriatebox/boxes)Cause: Hairy heel wartTreatments usedOxtetracycline injections (we have tried antibiotic sprays with little success). Weclean the affected foot and wrap it up to try to keep it clean during the healingprocess.Prevention MeasuresWe see about 15% of cows a year getting hairy heel wart. This has increased in recentyears. We are trying to keep the dairy yards scraped clean. We do use coppersulphate foot baths but are unsure whether these are helping with the heel wart.We are starting to do more regular foot trimming with a hired foot trimmer to try toimprove lameness generally.Example 7PCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

LAMENESSWhat were the main causes of lameness in the herd (please complete appropriatebox/boxes)Causes: ScaldTreatments usedSome scald is seen and an antibiotic foot spray is used as required.If the foot is really bad then tetracycline would be used – but this only seems to be aproblem with ewes – not the lambs.Prevention MeasuresAll ewes are checked for foot and other problems at tupping. All ewes areindividually tagged so ewes which persistently have problems with their feet can beidentified and culled.Ewes are also regularly foot bathed with zinc sulphate and copper sulphate.Foot rotTreatments usedSome foot rot is seen but not enough to warrant vaccination. If found the ewe istreated with antibiotic as required. The vet has advised that trimming the infectedfoot does more harm than good – spreads the problem – so this is avoided wherepossible.Prevention MeasuresIf a ewe continuously shows signs of foot problems she is culled. The problems offoot rot in the herd are getting less and less as the ewes that are kept seem to beimmune to this problem.In terms of future usefulness, the information given in example 6 is more helpful thanexample 7. This is because example 6 provides clear levels at which the problem wasoccurring – the farmer can easily compare the levels of disease in the future when theplan is later reviewed and see if things have improved or not – and take necessaryaction.However, to their credit, the sheep farmer in example 7 has identified at least twodifferent types of lameness that are occurring on their farm – together with slightlydiffering responses for each problem. It is also worth noting the overall preventionstrategy for lameness in example 7 is a culling program to remove those animals thatPCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

are persistently lame for the problems identified – scald and foot rot. This is an effectivemanagement strategy as long as you have a closed flock.Health planning and internal parasitesParasite management is a good example of how a farm and health plan can help toimprove farm performance.Parasite outbreaks generally occur when you can’t or don’t move stock – or when youend up keeping more animals than you expected. If your farm and health plan identifiesthat parasites are an ongoing problem, you can start to look at ‘best practice’management and think about ways of adapting these techniques to your own farmsituation [see ‘Reducing the Risk of Internal Parasites’, AWA technical advice fact sheetno. 4].With cattle and sheep, look at how you currently manage your grazing land. Where arethe problem areas and what are the possible causes? Make notes on ways that you canimprove your system to reduce the build up of parasites in the pasture. Can you rotateyour livestock with other species or integrate cropping to help break the parasite lifecycle? A mixture of species can help to control worms because each species removesand reduces the parasites of the other.Try to identify pasture according to the level of potential parasite contamination andthen allocate the grazing based on the types and groups of animals and theirvulnerability to internal parasites. If you don’t know already, learn the life cycle of theinternal parasites that are a problem on your farm so you can identify risk periods andtake action to avoid the build up of infection. The general stocking rate is alsoimportant: the more extensive it is, the less likely the incidence of parasites.Be aware that while older animals can develop natural immunity to internal parasites,your most susceptible animals are the newborn or newly weaned and they will do beston the ‘cleanest’ grazing. ‘Clean’ grazing is pasture which has a minimal risk of parasitecontamination and will include land that hasn’t had stock on it at all for a number ofmonths – perhaps because you have been growing crops on it – or land that has onlyhad animals of another species grazing on it for several months.Use the farm and health plan to ensure you identify and make the best use of ‘clean’land – and stick to the plan. Monitoring parasite levels through sampling can be a veryuseful tool, helping to identify the levels of risk and when treatment might be required –and even which individual animals are naturally immune for future breeding selection.Take a look at the next farm example, which relates to internal parasites (example 8).This is taken from a farm which reviews its health plan each year; this extract is from thethird year of review. The farmer explains clearly how they are using sampling of bothdung and blood to monitor the levels of parasites. Over the years the use of fecalPCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

sampling has proved very helpful in reducing the risk of roundworm and the need totreat on this farm.Also note the reference to an earlier version of the plan where the vet warned that flukewas on the rise in the area – and the need in this year’s plan to actually treat for flukefor the first time on this farm.Example 8INTERNAL PARASITESPlease state the type of parasites foundRoundworm found occasionally. Fluke emerged as an issue in 2008.TreatmentPlease state treatments used for each group of animalsFasinex for fluke for most cattle on the farm in March 2008 following dung andblood sample results.PreventionPlease state prevention measures adoptedMixed grazing is practised on the farm as there are both sheep and cattle. Themixed grazing system seems to work well. Stock are regularly moved round toavoid the build up of parasites on particular fields. Some fields are shut up forsilage and this provides clean aftermath grazing.Attention is paid to ensuring that the most vulnerable stock – e.g. the calves – getthe safest grazing. Cows and calves would graze the aftermaths from cutting thathave not had stock on them for some months for example.Fecal egg counts (FEC) are used as a monitoring tool. Samples from both sheepand cattle are taken regularly. The interval of testing depends on how the stocklook; it could be from three weeks to two months. FEC counts were carried out in2008. We also carried out additional blood sampling in 2008 when some cattlestarted to look poor.Fluke had not been a problem on farm before 2008, though (as per previous healthplans) the vet had pointed out that it was becoming more prevalent in the areaand should be monitored. In early 2008, FEC and blood tests showed that flukewas now at a level where treatment was required and all stock (apart from cowsdue to calve) were treated. The situation will be monitored on an ongoing basisand further treatment may be required in future years.PCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

Health planning and external parasitesAs well as internal parasites, your animals may also be affected by a range of externalparasites, such as red mite in poultry, lice in cattle and pigs, and flies in all species –although potentially most problematic are blow flies affecting sheep.You may be wondering what you can do to plan and prevent problems with externalparasites. For example, flies are obviously mobile and have free access on and off yourfarm. But there are things you can do to minimise fly problems. For example, you canidentify when flies are most likely to cause problems on your farm and take action atthose particular times of year - or before particular weather conditions – to helpminimize the risks.You can also identify areas of the farm which are more at risk at certain times and movestock accordingly. For example – and as mentioned earlier in this paper – we know thatlow lying pasture next to water or near woodland is likely to present stock with a fargreater risk of flies than a higher, more exposed pasture which catches the wind.Other external parasites might be easier to tackle. For example, red mite in poultry isbest controlled by good hygiene and by taking the necessary steps to eliminate thefavourable habitats that red mites need to thrive. If red mite is a problem, then actionpoints might include buying or building huts or houses for the birds that don’t havecracks and crevices that mites can live in and breed – or taking steps to block anyexisting crevices in your buildings with silicon sealer.Example 9 below gives some actions taken to prevent known problems on farmssuffering with lice in cattle (see overleaf):Example 9ECTOPARASITES (for example: lice, mange, scab)Please state the type of parasites foundPCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

If cattle have to be housed in bad weather in the winter lice have been seen.TreatmentPlease state treatments used for each group of animalsA pour on (Spot On) is used if lice are seen.PreventionPlease state prevention measures adoptedHousing areas are kept as clean and hygienic as possible and cleaned throughthoroughly after use.We have reduced the stocking density in the housing and this seems to helpIf cattle are to be housed for a long time we clip the hair in a wide stripe down theirbacks to reduce areas where lice collect and breed.This is a closed herd which should reduce parasites being brought in.Note that, in example 9, this particular farm lists their closed herd policy as a preventionmethod. This part of the health plan definitely overlaps with the farm biosecurity plan: itis very easy to bring external parasites on to the farm if you bring in infested animals. Asearly stages of external parasite infection are generally difficult to spot, that prize bull ornew ram you’ve just bought might be bringing in more than just new genetics to yourherd or flock. If you don’t do so already it is well worth including a quarantine procedureas part of your farm and health plan to minimize the risk of introducing new parasite ordisease problems to the farm.One positive point for sheep farmers in America is that sheep scab – a major externalparasite of sheep in other countries such as the UK – is not found in the US.Example 10 looks at the issue of preventing a health problem from a parasite that isimpossible to eliminate from your farm – the fly. This example shows a good assessmentand response to the problem with a mix of management and pour-ons.Example 10PCE17v1 - TAFS 14 - Farm Health Plans A Practical Guide 121310

FLY STRIKEIs fly control a probl

To help you to create your own farm and health plan, Animal Welfare Approved has designed the following free templates: All species section Farm and Health Plan Beef Farm and Health Plan Dairy Farm and Health Plan Goat Farm and Health Plan Laying Bird and Breeder Flocks Farm and Health Plan Meat Poultry Farm and Health Plan