Healthy livestock is key to the future sustainability of agriculture, according to a white paper launched this week by MSD Animal Health.
The paper, ‘Healthy livestock produce sustainable food’, evidences that fostering good animal health maximises production for each unit of input, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and gives the industry a competitive advantage in the global market.
Dr Paul Williams, MSD Animal Health’s technical manager (ruminants) and the paper’s co-author, said: “The farming industry has worked hard in recent years to improve animal health and welfare, reduce antimicrobial use and improve consumer trust, all while driving productivity.
“However, the paper highlights that in order to achieve long-term sustainability, including economic viability, environmental responsibility and social acceptability, animal health is critical.”
Dr Williams said that the increased productivity, environmental sustainability and societal benefits of healthy livestock will accommodate future food production, but they need to be boosted by having regulatory frameworks, benchmarks and incentives in place.
He added: “The UK has one of the most advanced farming industries in the world, and we’ve seen a marked reduction in antimicrobial use as a result of industry benchmarking. However it is estimated that 20% of animal production worldwide is lost as a result of disease.
“To continue to meet the challenge of improving livestock health and productivity it’s important that we emulate these benchmarks with animal health, disease prevention and sustainability at the heart.”