Ruminant Health & Welfare (RHW) is an ‘independent, industry-based body tasked with helping farmers and stock managers tackle sheep and cattle disease, and build the health and welfare status, resilience and production efficiency of our national flock and herd’. We were delighted to be asked to host this influential group’s Four Nations meeting yesterday, Feb 22nd. Our only regret was, due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, we had to host the meeting online. We had hoped to be able to host the meeting face-to-face, and give attendees a tour of the laboratories, facilities and new Moredun Centenary outreach bus. To be fair, RHW did allow us to do a virtual tour of the Institute ‘who we are, what we do etc.’ at the start of the meeting, which Beth Wells from Comms delivered with her usual energy and enthusiasm.
The Programme was designed to showcase the policy-relevant livestock research being carried out in Scotland, mainly under the Scottish Government-funded Strategic Research Portfolio. We had short presentations from the following, with a lively Q&A session afterwards:
- Innovation and initiatives around health planning – Tim Geraghty, SRUC
- The achievements of the Shetland Animal Health Scheme – Hilary Burgess, Shetland Islands Council
- The ScotEID database and how it can and does help animals health schemes and at farm level – Bob Yuill, ScotEID
- An update on the Livestock Health & Greenhouse Gas workshops and RHW Methane Report – Philip Skuce, Moredun
- The role of EPIC supporting livestock health in Scotland – Dominic Mellor, EPIC
On reflection, a strong message emerged from the meeting about the importance of data across the livestock sector, and the need for collaboration to make the best use of those data and the available expertise to support an efficient, sustainable and profitable livestock sector. This could be a baseline for the future and feed into ongoing agricultural policy development. The meeting also identified plenty of opportunities for future research within Scotland and beyond!
Furthermore, in this context, RHW have asked Moredun to help produce an ‘Acting on Methane’ Report for the ruminant livestock sector, in response to the Global Methane Pledge emanating from the COP26 Climate Change Conference, held in Glasgow last November. The Report is designed to highlight how farmers can reduce GHG emissions from their livestock through improving animal health, and will hopefully be released soon, so watch this space!