Health and biosecurity plans

The best way to put disease avoidance into practice and reap the benefits is by developing a health and biosecurity plan for your farm.

Health planning involves careful consideration and forward planning.  This means looking closely at the general health and productivity of your animals and at your farm biosecurity.  It involves keeping accurate farm records and considering how your farm is managed throughout the year. 

A health and biosecurity plan reassures other people by:

  • acting as proof of your good practice
  • forming an essential part of farm assurance scheme standards

A health and biosecurity plan should be drawn up by your vet, who knows:

  • how to improve the health of your animals
  • your farm management practices and disease risks
  • local management practices and disease risks
  • how to advise on safe use of medicines to keep you, your animals and the food chain safe, and keep you within the law

The plan should be active, practical and realistic for you and your farm.


Contents of a health plan

A health plan will be developed by your vet to capture:

  • up-to-date records of:
    • all routine disease prevention and control activities
    • vaccinations
    • parasite controls
    • treatments and medicines administered
  • farm policy on:
    • managing and tending young, vulnerable and high risk animals
    • on-farm killing
  • animal specific items depending on your herd or flock, such as:
    • footcare management
    • mastitis control
    • tail docking
  • a biosecurity plan for your farm


Biosecurity plans

A biosecurity plan should be developed by your vet and will be specific to your farm.  It forms an important part of the health plan and focuses on disease avoidance.

A biosecurity plan helps you understand and prioritise:

  • diseases you are free from and want to protect against
  • diseases already present on your farm, which must be detected and diagnosed promptly

Your vet will help you to use the biosecurity plan to create a realistic, prioritised programme of activities.  For example, your vet may suggest two national priorities such as Bovine TB and BVD, then two other priorities specific to your farm.


Using health and biosecurity plans

Points to consider when using a health and biosecurity plan.

  • Communicate with everyone working on the farm when developing and using the plan.  Always explain how and why it should work, and its benefits.
  • Use it daily, keeping your records up to date.
  • If you identify any possible areas for improvement, work with your vet to review and update.
  • Carry out a regular appraisal (at least annually) updating it with your vet as necessary.


Help with health plans

The SAHPS (Animal Health Planning System) is a web-based software developed by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) to support vets and farmers involved in flock and herd health planning. The system is funded by the Scottish Government and it is free for Scottish farmers and vet practices.