A new survey aims to identify disease priorities across the ruminant sectors and inform efforts to tackle health challenges eroding performance and welfare on farms.
The newly-formed Ruminant Health and Welfare (RHW) group has launched the 'grassroots survey', with an aim to improve cattle and sheep health and welfare.
It seeks to balance current evidence with a better understanding of the views of farmers and farm vets – those who work closely with sheep and cattle on a daily basis.
Through the survey, the group wants to understand what the greatest disease concerns are while identifying specific regional or sectoral issues in sheep and cattle.
Participants will be asked to review a range of diseases and conditions based on their impact on productivity and contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
Nigel Miller, chairman of RHW said: “Endemic diseases in ruminants do not respect country borders and are a significant concern to farmers, the wider industry, governments and consumers due to their impact on animal health, welfare and food production."
The survey will enable mapping of risk factors which will feed into RHW’s future priorities and activities, as well as research programmes.
Gwyn Jones, vice chairman of the group said: “We want to know what you believe are the most important challenges and any others which should be included.
"Bovine TB obviously presents overwhelming pressure on many producers but we are seeking views on other diseases which reduce production efficiency in the sheep and cattle sectors."
Disease and reputational challenges cost the UK cattle and sheep sectors at least £500 million a year.
RHW was established to co-ordinate and focus the UK’s farming industry on eradicating and controlling damaging cattle and sheep diseases.
It will work with industry and governments to secure the policy framework and funding required to prevent and control disease and welfare challenges.
The survey takes around 20 minutes to complete, with participants in for a chance to win a farmhouse hamper worth £50.
The survey closes for responses on 10 January 2021.