Leading Welsh dairy farmer Abi Reader has been appointed the new chair of Cattle Health Certification Standards (CHECS), the technical organisation that sets the specifications for health schemes involved in the control or eradication of endemic cattle disease in the UK.
CHECS, which bases its standards on farm biosecurity measures, herd vet declarations, and quality control for health scheme laboratories, was established in 1999 and is ‘owned’ by the UK cattle industry.
Ms Reader, who manages 200 cows at Wenvoe near Cardiff, says she applied for the role because she sees herd health and disease control as the biggest driver for stability and profit in her and other dairy farm businesses.
She says: “CHECS is a very important tool for the industry and is generally under-recognised – as well as being capable of achieving much more,” she explains.
“I am relishing the opportunity to drive forward a scheme that I think is absolutely what the industry needs right now for future development. The aim is to bring together the combined experiences and ideas of the board, and focus on what is practical and feasible in cattle disease eradication, as well as considering what is important to our buyers and the end consumer.”
As well as her new role as chair of CHECS, Abi is a Board member of Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group, a member of South East Wales TB Eradication Board, Vice Chair Of NFU Cymru Milk Board, and a member of the NFU Antimicrobial Resistance Focus Group. She is a graduate of the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, and completed an MBA in Farm Business Management in 2004.
CHECS sets testing and control or risk-reduction programmes for BVD, Johne’s Disease, Leptospirosis, IBR and Neospora. It has also developed a risk-reduction protocol for bovine TB which works alongside the statutory testing regime and has recently been recognised by both the Welsh Government and Defra.