Training boost should help tackle lameness in sheep

First published in Farming

A TRAINING package worth £1.4m will benefit around 4,000 farmers and growers in England.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has received the funding from the Defra/EU Regional Development Programme for England (RDPE).

It builds on the £2.2m programme delivered by AHDB in 2013 and involves:

o an £815,000 contract to manage a national training programme in cattle and sheep health and welfare, bringing together three regional programmes

o a £415,000 contract to develop advanced skills training for crop growers in both agriculture and horticulture

o a £130,000 contract to reduce the effect of endemic diseases in pigs and poultry through collaborative working and a ten month programme of workshops and seminars.

The programmes will be delivered by a team including Adas, Duchy College, SAC, TrainEast, Westpoint and XL Vets, Eblex and DairyCo.

Eblex will establish a national network of 19 sheep focus farms, both lowland and upland, from Cornwall to Northumberland.

A number of summer meetings about sheep lameness, specifically focusing on the five-point lameness management plan, will give producers a clear strategy to reduce lameness in their flock.

Steve Dunkley, Eblex north east regional manager, said: "Lameness represents an enormous cost to the British sheep industry, with losses from footrot alone estimated to be around £6 per ewe.

"It may not be possible to eradicate lameness entirely, but by implementing the five-point plan, producers have the best chance of minimising costly lameness problems on their farm."

A number of beef health seminars and in-depth cattle and sheep health workshops will focus on health planning, lameness, infertility and scab in sheep, while the beef priorities will be BVD, Johnes, and pneumonia. See eblex.org.uk/events.

DairyCo will promote better control of BVD, Johne's Disease, lameness and mastitis in dairy cattle.

There will be 90 herd health seminars, 100 DairyCo Mastitis Control Plans and 180 farm vet visits under the DairyCo Healthy Feet Programme.

There will be advice on BVD and Johne's Disease and on BVD, the benefits of co-ordinating control will be emphasised.

Sophie Throup, from XLVets Training Services Ltd who ran RDPE delivery for the BVD Free England project, said: "This next round of funding will build on the excellent work carried out on the RDPE-funded project last year where a clear enthusiasm for BVD control was demonstrated.

"While an enormous amount of data was collected, enabling us to map out the problem of BVD on farms across England, the new funding will help us continue to work across the industry to build on that knowledge and move forward, both in terms of educating farmers and informing BVD policies in the future."

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