New Flock Health Checklist set to help vets influence flock health - Veterinary Practice
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


New Flock Health Checklist set to help vets influence flock health

A new checklist-based audit tool from MSD Animal Health, the Flock Health Checklist, is set to help vets in practice engage more proactively with GB sheep farmers

At a time when the profession has a unique opportunity to forge closer links with sheep farmers – thanks to the new government funding available under the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway scheme – the new Flock Health Checklist, a highly practical consultation platform, enables development of an action plan to help shepherds address the key areas influencing flock health and productivity.

FIGURE (1): The key time periods and processes impacting on optimum flock performance

Developed by experienced sheep vets in association with MSD Animal Health, the new Flock Health Checklist helps practitioners assess performance across the three crucial time periods and two key management processes impacting on the success of sheep enterprises (Figure 1).

“We have developed this new performance checklist drawing on specialist sheep vet working experiences, clinical research studies, economic data and industry recommendations,” explains Dr Kat Baxter-Smith, veterinary adviser with MSD Animal Health.

“For example, the pre-breeding period is a great time to make sure ewes and rams are as fit and healthy as possible. Good practice and preparation in this area will go a long way to minimising stress and problems during a busy lambing period.”

She adds that the late pregnancy and lambing period is also a vital time – and is the busiest few weeks on any sheep farm.

“Having pre-agreed protocols for this important period in the sheep farming calendar – and keeping a record of issues that arise – will go a long way to making sure subsequent lambing seasons go as smoothly as possible.”

Growth, weaning and sale is the third crucial time period and the Flock Health Checklist incorporates an additional series of audit-based questions designed to pinpoint system stengths and weaknesses.

“It is vital that lambs grow as quickly as possible – but not at the expense of the ewe. Looking after breeding ewes during lactation and after weaning is just as important as monitoring the weight gain and performance of your lambs during this period of intense growth,” says Kat.

The Flock Health Checklist also enables a vet to ask a series of questions covering two key management processes: disease management and biosecurity, and how flock performance is currently monitored.

“Working through a series of 10 questions within each of the three crucial time periods and two key management processes – designed to tease out where a sheep unit is in terms of accepted best management practice – allows vet and farmer to quickly pinpoint any areas needing attention. What’s more, repeating the checklist every 6 or 12 months is a great way to keep things on track, allowing both parties to montor performance against agreed targets,” says Kat.

“Similar types of checklist have been available to dairy youngstock rearing units and beef suckler herds for a couple of years now, with several vets reporting that these tools have proved integral to their productivity improvement work with farmer clients. Use of this checklist-based approach is also helping better implementation of preventative health practices such as vaccination. We hope this latest tool will help the GB sheep industry similarly.”       

Vets interested in further information on the new Flock Health Checklist should contact their local MSD Animal Health account manager.

Have you heard about our
IVP Membership?

A wide range of veterinary CPD and resources by leading veterinary professionals.

Stress-free CPD tracking and certification, you’ll wonder how you coped without it.

Discover more