Herd Health Management


Source: National Farm Animal Care Council, Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle Section 3.1

Pain and discomfort caused by health issues impact an animal’s well-being such that good animal welfare requires good animal health (14). Disease prevention is extremely important. Herd health management and biosecurity protocols can help prevent and contain diseases. Producers need to be able to promptly recognize and treat animal health issues in order to optimize animal welfare.

Veterinarians play a key role in helping producers meet these animal health obligations. Although the specific regulations vary among provinces, in order for veterinarians to prescribe some classes of medications and vaccines, they must have a valid Veterinarian/Client/Patient Relationship (VCPR).

A Veterinarian/Client/Patient Relationship exists when all of the following conditions have been met (18):

  • the veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the cattle and the need for medical treatment, and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s instructions
  • the veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal(s). This means that the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal(s) by virtue of an examination of the animal(s) or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal(s) are kept
  • the veterinarian is readily available for follow-up evaluation, or has arranged for emergency coverage, in the event of adverse reactions or failure of the treatment regimen.

An effective Herd Health Management Program contributes to cattle well-being by providing a strategy for disease prevention, rapid diagnosis and effective treatment.


Establish an ongoing working relationship (VCPR) with a licensed practicing veterinarian and develop a strategy for disease prevention and herd health.


  1. maintain accurate animal management and health records.


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