Veterinary Care and Herd Health Management Programs


Source: National Farm Animal Care Council Code of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals – Dairy Cattle, Section 3.4

Animal health is an integral component of animal welfare. Producers should maintain the health of their animals through appropriate nutrition, appropriate housing, disease prevention, detection, and treatment. Veterinarians should play a key role in helping producers to meet these animal health obligations.

A Veterinarian/Client/Patient Relationship (VCPR) (35) exists when all of the following conditions have been met:

  • the veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the animal(s) 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 animal wellbeing by providing a strategy for disease prevention, rapid diagnosis and effective treatment.


Producers must establish a working relationship with a practicing veterinarian (VCPR)


  1. work with the herd veterinarian to develop a Herd Health Management and Biosecurity Program (refer to Appendix K – Resources for Further Information)
  2. have a Herd Health Management Program which includes the following components:
    • vaccination protocols
    • observation of all animals for injury or signs of disease
    • complete, accurate, and reliable record keeping
    • protocols for the prevention, detection, and treatment of disease or injury, including lameness
    • protocols for pest control
    • training programs and protocols for animal handlers
    • individual animal identification and treatment records to ensure no animal is shipped prior to drug withdrawal times
    • ability to isolate new arrivals to the herd
    • calving protocols.