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Report sheds light on use of farm health plans
Eighty-four per cent of health plans were created with the help of a vet or adviser, a figure that has risen steadily from 60 per cent in 2009.

More plans written by vets, but slight drop in farmers using plans

Recent figures from Defra suggest the number of farmers using farm health plans has fallen slightly in the past year, while just over half are using their plan to routinely inform decisions.

Defra’s Farm Practices Survey revealed that 73 per cent of farmers had a health plan in 2019, compared to 75 per cent last year.

Of these, 55 per cent said they used their health plan on a routine basis to inform disease management decisions.

In total, 89 per cent said they used it routinely or when they could to inform these decisions, while four per cent felt they should be doing so. Seven per cent did not feel it was necessary to use the plan.

Meanwhile, 84 per cent of health plans were created with the help of a vet or adviser, a figure that has risen steadily from 60 per cent in 2009.

Most farmers had a written or recorded plan (63 per cent) and the number of farmers with a plan that was not recorded fell from 12 per cent to 10 per cent.

The number of farmers who undertake training for animal health, welfare and disease management - either routinely or when they can - rose to 60 per cent in 2019, compared to 58 per cent the previous year.

A further 10 per cent said they felt they should undertake training, but 30 per cent did not feel it was necessary.

Following the report, MSD Animal Health expressed concern over some of the figures and urged more farmers to use proactive ongoing health plans.

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RSPCA braced for ‘hectic hedgehog month’

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says that it is bracing itself for a ‘hectic hedgehog month’ after calls to the charity about the creatures peaked this time last year.

More than 10,000 calls about hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2018, 1,867 of which were in July. This compares with just 133 calls received in February of the same year.

Evie Button, the RSPCA’s scientific officer, said: “July is our busiest month for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.” 

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ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland’s airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.