Posted By: Bibby - Farm Vet

What is Sustainable Livestock Production

Last month, myself and Harry went to an XL Farm Vets meeting to discuss sustainability. Although we hear the word sustainability regularly, I must hold my hands up and say that I went to this meeting not really knowing what it was. 

So, what did I learn. Well, I think actually there are probably many different “Definitions” and it depends on who you are as to what it means. For example, if you are a processor of livestock products, a sustainability tag is currently a useful marketing tool. As a consumer, sustainability has many emotional connotations, however, there were many discussions that the public perception of sustainability probably isn’t actually very good with regards to carbon output and kg of products produces. 

As farmers and vets, maybe I’m biased, but I think we probably are already striving for sustainable production. To me, sustainable livestock production should be efficient at producing good quality food, in a manner that can be repeated for generations to come. Livestock practices need to ensure maximum food production whilst allowing wildlife to thrive, resulting in maintaining our biodiversity. 

Although we all love our work, fundamentally sustainability also means our businesses needs to be profitable. Our cattle and sheep need to achieve good reproductive efficiency, our holdings need to have as little disease as possible, overall we need our animals to be healthy. 

In summary, what did I learn? We still have so much more to understand, for example learning about areas such as soil health, the intricate microbial populations that can be the difference between a successful crop and a failed one. Although there is lots of knowledge to be gained, we can still strive to work on the areas that we know can improve the sustainably of your farm, for example ensuring heifers are calved at two years old, making sure infectious diseases such as BVD, which we know reduced production is not circulating. 

There is now available funding for Sheep, Beef and Dairy farms, through the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, that can be used to go through fertility management and infectious disease control on your farm, you’ll even get some BVD testing paid for too! Please speak to Charlotte in the office about booking your visit. 

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