In a major extension to its leading herd health policy, the British Limousin Cattle Society has announced that as from the 1st May 2011, herds selling at nominated premier Collective Society Sales will have to be members of, and adhering to, the terms of a CHeCS licenced herd health scheme.


The announcement marks a further development in the Society’s long stated aim to provide the pedigree and commercial sector with cattle that combine an assured and known health status along with the highest visual and genetic quality.    In 2005, the financially incentivised Herd Health Initiative was introduced, followed in 2007 with the introduction of Herd Health Declarations at Collective Society Sales.    In both instances these initiatives have proved to be popular with breeders and commercial customers.  As at 1st January 2010, 28% of all pedigree calves registered in the year are from herds within CHeCS approved health schemes.


At the May 2010CarlisleBullSale, the Society’s largest in the year, 94% of vendors carried a Herd Health Declaration in the catalogue.


Here, in a question and answer format, is a guide to the introduction of the new extension to the Limousin Society’s Herd Health policy:


What is the Society’s new Herd Health policy being introduced in 2011?

The new policy is in three parts:


Part 1.  That from 1st May 2011, herds selling at the premier Collective Society Sales have to be members of, and adhering to, the terms of a CHeCS approved Herd Health Scheme through either Biobest Herdcare, SAC Premium Cattle Health Scheme, HI Health, Advance Cattle Health Scheme, NML Herdwise or the AFBI Cattle Health Scheme. As with the Society’s present Herd Health Initiative, at a minimum, this must include a whole herd test for Johne’s disease.


Part 2. That from 1st May 2011, all animals male and female, including calves at foot, presented at the premier Collective Society Sales be EITHER from a BVD Accredited Herd within a CHeCS approved Herd Health Scheme OR to have been BVD tested virus free.  All animals forward will require to be BVD vaccinated prior to sale with an approved vaccine. Pregnant animals must have had testing and vaccination completed prior to service.


Note: for these purposes, premier Society Sales are defined as the four Carlisle Collective Sales (Feb, May, Oct, Dec); plus 2 Stirling Collective Sales (Feb, Oct)


Part 3.  That the cash-back Health Initiative refund from the Society, for herds who are members of, and adhering to, the terms of a CHeCS approved Cattle Health Scheme  increase from £2 to £4 per animal for all participating herds in 2010, subject to an annual review.  The £4 per animal refund is based on the number of calves registered with the Society from a given herd in the calendar year.



What BLCS sales will the new policy be applicable to?

As outlined above, in the first instance the policy will be introduced at the premier  Carlisle Collective Sales in  May, October & December (Red Ladies) in 2011, and atStirlingin October 2011.   Subject to ongoing review, the policy may thereafter be rolled out at other Collective Sale centres including Brecon, Ballymena andAberdeen.


Why is it being rolled out in May 2011?

As in each area of this policy, consideration was given to timings and practicalities.  After full consideration, including consultation with CHeCS, it is felt that a period of nine months from first notification is fair and necessary to allow all breeders the time and opportunity to join a scheme and initiate their herd health testing programme.


Why is the Society implementing this policy?

There are a number of reasons that are essentially linked.


It is an aim that cattle sold at the Society’s Premier Collective Sales have a known, visible and assured health status with a view to ongoing and continuous improvement.  Delivering animals to the market place with a known health status has been a great benefit to both pedigree breeders themselves and importantly to the commercial customer and industry.  It is very much an expectation that this policy will build on that principle.


Health testing and ongoing herd health management will not only improve herd health but it will also help profitability for both the pedigree breeder and the commercial customer.


The customer reaction to both the Society’s Herd Health Initiative and its Herd Health Declarations at sale has been hugely positive. It is clear that the provision of this information has played a big part in the strong sales the breed has continued to have.  Purchasers, both pedigree and commercial, want to buy breeding stock with a known health status.


CHeCS have noted that controlling the problems caused by disease will show a very noticeable reduction in annual losses. For example, it is known that in just 10 years, uncontrolled BVD in a 100 cow beef herd can cost at least £45,000, and for Johne’s disease more than £20,000.  Certain infectious diseases reduce the efficiency of production and adversely affect animal welfare in both dairy and beef cattle. The presence of some of these diseases within the national herd may also compromise consumer confidence in the final product.


This policy is very proactive and keeping in line with health policy at a national level and across the EU. Scotlandhas already indicated its intent to implement a BVD eradication policy and this may well be followed byWalesandEngland.  We have also seen BVD eradication programmes established in various parts ofEuropewith some countries now declaring freedom from BVD.  Johne’s disease herd programmes are also being encouraged.  On a national level it is important that we are not seen to have cattle of an inferior health status that are potentially not marketable (beef, or semen).


Why a CHeCS licenced scheme?

Cattle Health Certification Standards UK, abbreviated to CHeCS, is an organisation established by the British cattle industry for the eradication of non-statutory diseases by a set of standards to which all licenced Cattle Health Schemes must adhere. These standards ensure that the description of herd health status is the same across all participating schemes.


Across a large membership it is important that a Herd Health policy works to a pre-defined industry set standard.  The fully recognised CHeCS licensed schemes give this and bring clear terms that are equally and fairly applicable across all participating members.  Herds in CHeCS licenced Cattle Health Schemes are able to provide an owner’s declaration of health status. This gives buyers the confidence that they are not buying in disease.


What diseases are included within these health schemes?

The CHeCS licenced health schemes concentrate on four diseases:


Bovine Virus Diarrhoea (BVD)

Johne’s disease

Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR)



Health schemes offer a way to overcome these disease problems. Essentially a health scheme is a set of management rules and a disease testing programme which shows whether or not a particular disease is present in the herd.


It also offers a way to control and eliminate the disease from the herd that not only improves the productivity of the herd but also allows the sale of breeding animals known to be free of the disease in question.


Do I have to test for all four diseases?

What diseases you test for is a decision to be made in consultation with your vet and chosen health scheme provider.  As stated in Part 1. of the new policy, herds selling at the premier Collective Society Sales have to be members of, and adhering to, the terms of a CHeCS approved Herd Health Scheme.  As with the Society’s present Herd Health Initiative, at a minimum, this must include a whole herd test for Johne’s disease.


Do I have to be accredited free of these diseases to sell at the nominated sales?

No.  The requirement is that you are a member of one of the CHeCS schemes and testing for the diseases which you have chosen to.  You will have the opportunity to present a summary of your CHeCS membership and testing within the respective sale catalogue herd health declaration.


What are the available CHeCS schemes?

Advance Cattle Health Scheme, NationWide Laboratories,Leeds Gate WayDrive,  Yeadon,Leeds,  LS19 7XYTel:  + 44 (0) 113 250 7556 Fax: +44 (0) 113 2500198



AFBI Cattle Health Scheme, Agri-Food Biosciences Division, Veterinary Sciences Division, Stoney Road, Stormont,Belfast,BT4 3SDTel: + 44 (0) 2890 525749 Fax: + 44 (0)2890 525787


Herdsure Cattle Health Improvement Service, AHVLA Luddington, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 9SJTel: +44 (0)1789 750972 Email:

HiHealth Herdcare, Biobest Laboratories Ltd, 6 Charles Darwin House, TheEdinburghTechnopole,MiltonBridge,Penicuik,EH26 0PY Tel: + 44 (0)131 4402628


NML Herdwise, National Milk Laboratories, Woodthorne,Wergs Road,WolverhamptonWV6 8TQTel:  +44 (0) 1902 749920 Fax:  +44 (0) 1902 749938



Premium Cattle Health Scheme, SAC Veterinary Services, Greycrook, St Boswells, Roxburghshire TD6 0EU Tel: + 44 (0) 1835 822456 Fax: + 44 (0) 1835 823643



Shetland Animal Health Scheme, Environmental Health, Grantfield,North Road, Lerwick, Shetland, ZE1 0NTTel: +44 (0)1595 744841

E-mail: E-mail:


Does the Society recommend specifically any of the licenced health schemes?

Each scheme is robust and licensed by CHeCS (see This is again very much a matter of choice for the member.    All the schemes listed will forward you information upon request and be prepared to discuss your requirements and questions.


What would the next steps be to join a health scheme?

The Society would advise that you discuss your requirements with your vet.  Thereafter, you should approach the scheme or schemes of your choice to discuss entry, terms and conditions and general costs.


If I run a commercial herd, and have a pedigree herd, what does this mean for me practically?

Again, the Society would advise that this is very much part of your herd health planning discussions with your vet and thereafter the herd health scheme of your choice.  Generally, it would be correct to say that cattle run on the same holding, pedigree or commercial, would be subject to the same testing requirements for the disease(s) you have chosen to test for.  Reiterating the previous points, a disease breakdown can have a devastating effect on profitability in both pedigree and commercial herds.  Herd health testing will be an added value benefit in both pedigree and commercial terms for participating farmers and, moving forward, for the industry as a whole.


Is there any help directly from the Society for membership of the CHeCS Health Schemes?

As indicated in part 3. of the policy, the cash-back Health Initiative refund from the Society is increasing from £2 to £4 per animal for all participating herds in 2010, and subject thereafter to an annual review.  This means that if in 2010 you are a member of, and adhering to, the terms of a CHeCS licenced scheme and have had a whole herd test for Johne’s disease then you will be eligible to claim.  Participants can claim £4.00 back for every pedigree calf registered in their herd in that calendar year.  In 2009, claims were made for 5263 calves from 162 herds and £10,526 was paid back to members by the Society as a result.



Further reminders of this announcement will be routinely included in the usual Society publications and vehicles in the run up to the policy’s introduction at the May 2011 Sale at Carlisle.  The Society would suggest that where required you discuss your herd health planning, and entry into a CHeCS licenced scheme, at an early stage and in good time prior to the May 2011 Sale entry period.


If you have any queries about this important announcement, then please do not hesitate to contact the Society Office at Stoneleigh.

Download Herd Health Declaration Form