The Beef Shorthorn Society is leading the way by insisting that all animals entered for society sales must be health tested for important diseases.
Beef Shorthorns at Perth
Society directors decided 12 months ago that the new policy would be introduced allowing only cattle blood tested for BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea) Leptospirosis and IBR (Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis) for all society sales from January 2009, unless already accredited under a herd health scheme.
The society is believed to be the first to take such measures and Shorthorn secretary Frank Milnes hopes that other breed societies particularly those involved with multi-breed sales, will follow the lead.
It has the backing of NFU Scotland, livestock auctioneers’ associations and CHeCs, (Cattle Health Certification Standards (UK)), a self regulatory body for cattle health schemes.
“The message we are giving is ‘Don’t buy infection into your herd, know what you are buying and buy with confidence at a Beef Shorthorn Society sale,” said Mr Milnes.
“This is a huge step forward for the Beef Shorthorn bred and one which is advantageous for both the vendor and the purchaser which will give confidence that cattle bought at society sales are of a known health status.
“The cost of a blood test is small in comparison to the potential damage an infected animal could cause to a herd,” he added.
The first sales covered by the new rule are at the Perth multi-breed sales next month with Shorthorn females sold on February 2 and bulls the following day.
Blood test results will be displayed on an official health pen card approved by CHeCS and while the scheme does not mean that herds have to be members of a health scheme, the society wants to give a consistent health declaration to prospective purchasers.
Mr Milnes urges other pedigree beef societies to follow the Shorthorn’s innovative and forward thinking approach to secure both home and export markets for their stock.
The Beef Shorthorn’s Society’s progressive move is particularly important as the traditional breed enjoys a resurgence with a gradual increase in cattle sold at society sales, year on year growth in both pure and crossbred calves registered with the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) and the highest number of pedigree calves registered with the society in four decades.
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