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South East Leitrim Farmers Group / Tempo Farmers Group Projects /Business Development - Animal Health Project
Start date: Oct 31, 2006, End date: Jun 29, 2008 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The second project was financially assisted to the tune of €164,902 to undertake a unique crossborder project, concentrating on business development and animal health issues, with the main aim being to improve herd health on farms and to reduce animal disease levels. The project ran from November 2006 to June 2008.Initially, a business management tool was designed by Mr Frank OSullivan (Veterinary Consultant), to enable the individual farmers and their vets to record baseline data. The veterinary surgeons completed two reports on each participating farm – the first examining the history of disease and its cost, and the second identifying areas where diseases can impact. The project considered the whole farm system – examining the interaction of the animals with the physical environment of the farm and with other animals.From this baseline data the local vets drew up an action plan for each of the eighty farms, highlighting and recommending areas which could be improved upon in terms of efficiency measures, cost base reductions, improvements in stock quality and most importantly disease level reductions. The action plan consisted of farm management changes, provision of mineral supplementation, provision of medication or vaccinations as required, structural improvements to buildings, or further investigations such as blood/soil/forage analysis. This was a preventative programme, involving an investment by the participating farm businesses in the future health of their herds. Alongside the farmer/vet questionnaires and on-farm surveillance and monitoring, it was considered imperative and desirable to avail of the excellent local laboratory services inSligo and Omagh. The laboratories assisted with the initial screening tests to aid benchmarking of individual herds, and provided technical and veterinary advice to support the local veterinary practitioners engaged in the project.The project evaluation reveals that while herd health had always been of concern to farmers, they had been much more likely to react to breakdowns in herd health rather than taking a positive preventative approach. Farmers who took part in the project reported that they are now much more aware of threats to animal health and of the financial cost to them arising from breakdowns in animal health. They say that, as a result of taking part in the project, they are better informed andmuch more highly motivated to take proactive measures to monitor and protect the health of their herds.Farmers commented very positively on the value of the various networking events that the project organised. It is clear that opportunities to meet together, hear from experts, and exchange experiences are very important and worthwhile. In modern-day farming such opportunities to get together have become few and far-between.The project also gave farmers from both sides of the border an opportunity to learn how much they had in common, and how their situations also differ in some respects.Farmers saw the availability of grant-aid as a crucial encouragement to participate in the project.However, the real gains appear to have been in the development of awareness and motivation around issues of herd health, rather than any short-term financial assistance. Farmers thought that the real financial benefits of the project would become visible in the medium term. As such, the project was an investment in the future of their farm businesses.
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