National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

What Next? NBA concludes plain English animal health campaign

13th March 2015

Region: National

In this the fourth and final guide being published, by The National Beef Association (NBA) to help farmers protect the Health of their Herd, we look to the future.

These guides compiled by the NBA’s Animal Health Committee, aim to provide beef farmers with information about common health problems and to date have covered movement of stock, bio-security and planning and prevention.

The first three guides looked at what is happening now and what you can do to help protect the health of your herd, “ But,” says Charlie McLaren Chair of the NBA’s Animal Health Committee, “the bottom line is that unless we collaborate all do this all together then we are in dire straits.

“I don’t just mean the UK, I mean the whole of the EU. Each and every Government needs to step up to the plate and get behind agriculture and food production.”

They need to put in place a system that will help prevent the spread of disease, which will then help to reduce waste and the cost of production. This will not happen overnight, but as the population is growing so fast, and are all living longer we will need more food and the simplest solution to this is that we must grow our own. There are huge benefits for everyone:-

1.    We will know where it has come from

2.    It will be monitored and checked by ourselves

3.    We will be able to secure jobs in our own country and reduce imports so that we are less dependent on others

4.    The rural community will have a purpose again, not just for holidays and a walk at the weekend

5.    We will reduce our carbon foot print

Charlie says: “I am not pro or anti Europe but I am a believer in the original common market and it needs to work.”

Over the last 50 years we have all seen how modern technology has become the norm in agriculture. It has mechanised all that we do, making it a simpler and speedier process and a process which needs less people. However, in real terms, with prices falling and numbers increasing, something has had to give to make ends meet and that has been stockmen. They have less time and therefore less ability to look after stock. This is not a slur on our stockmen, it is just fact. Today our stockmen have so much to do and so little time to do it in.

Modern technology has not been able to create time so that the natural ability of the stockman can be enhanced. A stockman’s time spent working with his or her stock or even just watching them is time well spent. So what has technology brought us? Certainly not a closer association with our animals.

In the dairy sector, we have robotic milking machines, electronic collars for feeding, milk recording, heat detection and now a chip that can be attached to a cow’s tail with the ability to text you when the cow starts calving. 

In the beef world, we have electronic weigh systems, and cameras for watching stock in the shed pre calving or whenever.  Computerised record keeping such as Farm Plan, Farmdata and Farm Matters can do so much to streamline record keeping and give you the data to help make management decisions and so much more.

Last December I was lucky enough to hear Robert Neill speak about EID electronic tagging and what he had discovered on his trips to gather data for his Nuffield scholarship. The work which has been done and is ongoing is immense and will tie in herd information, individual animal information such as breeding and any health data, legal requirements and so much more. If this can be pulled together and made simple and effective to use then surely this will eventual be the way forward. To make it work we must be supported by the Government.

Whether we like it or not technology is here and making its mark but we need to be involved so that we can achieve what is right for all parties EU, Government, the Farmer, their stock and the end customers.  

So in answer to my own question “what next” we know that the market place is changing and we must remember to listen to what our customers wants but we must also be open to embracing new technology and be involved in its creation. By doing so we will ensure that it is fit for purpose and not only of benefit but an improvement. What is required is a team effort by Governments and farmers alike to keep the food on our tables.


Media Enquiries – Glendale PR – 01668 283044 –  [email protected]

Chris Mallon Chief Executive – 01434 601 005 –  [email protected]

National Beef Association, Mart Centre, Tyne Green, Hexham – 01434601005,  [email protected]