Ireland’s first ever Animal Health Awareness Day

Ireland’s first ever Animal Health Awareness Day

Thursday, November 28, will be Ireland’s first-ever Animal Health Awareness Day.

Why have an Animal Health Awareness Day?

Ireland is often described as an island on the edge of Europe.

This location helps us to remain free from many of the animal diseases which affect other countries, which is very important to our

entire agricultural sector.

That is why, on November 28, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) will promote the first-ever Animal Health Awareness Day.

Why is animal health so important for Ireland?

We export the majority of our agri-food products, and livestock farming is a key provider of these exports.

Having healthy animals helps farming and the agri-food industry to prosper in a variety of ways.

Healthier animals are more efficient animals.

Healthy animals produce more milk, meat, eggs, etc.

Less sickness and lower mortality also mean less greenhouse gas, improving the sustainability of farming.

Healthier animals are happier animals.

The robust health of our animals is a major selling point for Irish food internationally.

Ireland is free of many devastating livestock diseases of livestock.

Thankfully, we’ve managed to avoid outbreaks of bluetongue, African swine fever, Newcastle

disease and other ailments that have devastated animal populations elsewhere.

This helps provide assurance for both farmers and agri-food companies.

Agri-food products are traded to other countries on the basis of certificates agreed between the chief veterinary officers of exporting and

importing countries.

Many of these certificates require complete freedom from certain diseases.

The fewer diseases and the lower the levels of disease present in a country, the easier it is to retain existing markets and to access new ones.

How can you protect your herd or flock from the more common or ‘endemic’ diseases?

Maintain a closed herd: Avoid buying in livestock where possible.

Avoid sharing equipment and vehicles between farms, and if this is unavoidable, clean and disinfect equipment between uses.

Use vaccinations, anthelmintics, and antimicrobials appropriately and where necessary, according to the advice of a veterinarian.

Engage with your local veterinary practitioner to put in place an effective herd health programme for your herd.

Maintain good fences around the perimeter of your farm, and take appropriate measures to protect farmed animals from wildlife.

What organisations are involved in Animal Health Awareness Day?

It is an initiative of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), supported by the IFA, Teagasc, Animal Health Ireland, the School of Veterinary Medicine at UCD, Veterinary Ireland, and ICBF.

What are the main events on Animal Health Awareness Day?

At Corrin Mart, Fermoy, Co Cork, the “Animal Health–from farm to foreign food shelf” seminar will communicate the importance of Ireland’s agrifood industry, and how we can work together to protect it.

Multiple open house events will be held in the Regional Veterinary Laboratories at Cork, Limerick, Athlone, Sligo, Kilkenny, and the Backweston, Co Kildare DAFM laboratories.

These are opportunities for local vets, farm organisation representatives, and others to view at first-hand how the DAFM labs operate.

Also on November 28, various agricultural colleges and third-level institutions with veterinary nursing courses will have “Animal Health Awareness” talks provided by DAFM staff to agricultural college and veterinary nursing students, to raise awareness of key issues around animal health.

There are also important animal health events on Wednesday, November 27.

In Tullamore, Co Offaly, at the Tullamore Court Hotel, the ‘Awareness to Action’ joint conference organised by DAFM and Teagasc on antimicrobial resistance takes place.

It will focus on increasing awareness of these issues among farmers and professionals serving the agri-food industry.

There will be an emphasis on clear, concise, practical actions which can be taken on Irish farms to reduce the need to use antimicrobials and anthelmintics.

Resistance to antimicrobials is one of the major current challenges facing the human population.

It is estimated that by 2050, 50m people will die annually due to antimicrobial resistance (AMR), unless major steps are immediately undertaken to reduce antimicrobial usage.

The conference is free to attend, but registration is required (see www.teagasc.ie/amrconference).

Also on November 27, at University College Dublin. the “Animal Health perspectives from outside and inside the Department” informal talk will be delivered by recently recruited DAFM vets to students in agriculture and veterinary courses at UCD.

You can email to satsurveillance@agriculture.gov.ie for further information about any of the events.

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