Cows grazing beneath the Southern Alps

The Value of the Vetlife Animal Health Report

Ivan Holloway

Written by Ivan Holloway

Ivan is a senior veterinarian
& our production animal
business manager.

Just how can an animal health report help with your on-farm spend?

Inflation is currently running high in NZ and is apparently refusing to budge from a stubborn 7.5%. Yet recent Rabobank surveys suggest on-farm inflation is running higher and could be sitting around 14%. The main drivers of this would appear to be feed, fuel and fertiliser, all of which are essential ingredients for a successful farming enterprise.


What about on-farm animal health costs?

These are often a target for consultants when attacking and trying to prune farm expenses.

The key to understanding where your animal health expenses sit is in understanding what is necessary, what is luxurious (and perhaps not needed), what is high and what is low. Vetlife provides an animal health report which can benchmark your per-cow spend, so that at a glance you can see where areas may be high, low or beneficial. For example, your dry-cow mastitis spend could appear to sit at a particular level but, when you look at your intramammary spend, it may be decreasing.

This is a sure sign that your dry-off spend is worthwhile and in fact working. Conversely, if your intramammary spend is high, it may signal that some work is needed on mastitis prevention. Drilling into mastitis therapies may highlight a spike in injectable treatments, which may in turn indicate high heifer mastitis. This could signal a discussion with your veterinarian around protection strategies.

A look at the use of injectable antibiotics may signal a burgeoning lameness issue. Lameness is an area that can sneak up on you, but what signals do you receive to alert you that perhaps tracks are not at their best or that maybe a staff member is a bit heavy on the motorbike throttle? Increasing antibiotic spend may be that signal. Of course, Vetlife has healthy hoof-trained clinicians who may help you with any lameness issues identified from your animal health spend.

One positive trend we are seeing is an increased use of anti-inflammatories. Contrary to belief, this is probably a good thing, because animals treated with anti-inflammatories in conjunction with antibiotics tend to recover more quickly, and this means less time out of the vat. Similarly, many cows detected with possible mastitis early on may cure with anti-inflammatory use alone.


Understanding your report

Your Vetlife veterinarian is integral to any discussions around your animal health report. If you have not already seen one, I would urge you to contact your Vetlife Veterinarian and ask to sit down and go through your animal health report with them. The report can be run over multiple seasons so that you can see trends occurring in data, such as increases or decreases in products, which may indicate programmes are working well or not so well. At the very least, it will assist you to understand your spend and may assist in budgeting for the next season.

Feel free to contact your Vetlife veterinarian in order to go through your animal health report with them and to make certain that we are true animal health partners in ensuring your animal health spend is justified in all areas.