Integrated beef herd health management

Production of scientific results and operational tools for integrated cattle herd health management

The Joint Technological Unit in Cattle Herd Health Control demonstrates its ability to generate finalised research work co-constructed with stakeholders, producing rapidly transferable results for the integrated management of animal health, well-valued scientifically and research training materials. The results of the first UMT thesis defended are published and used as tools for agricultural advice.

Context / challenges

The project focuses on the design and evaluation of strategies to control the health of cattle herds, particularly the frequent multifactorial and drug-induced diseases. It aims to generate knowledge and to develop and disseminate operational methods for health management.
In partnership with stakeholders from the agricultural world (breeders, livestock advisors) the control of digestive dermatitis, a frequent and increasingly prevalent disease in France (and worldwide) has been identified as a priority theme. Existing knowledge was insufficient to propose effective prevention or treatment methods applicable to livestock farming. Moreover, the interventions commonly attempted to control the disease were based on the use of products toxic to humans or the environment. A research programme was developed to design and evaluate methods for the management of digestive dermatitis in dairy cattle herds, incorporating both the reduction of risks associated with husbandry practices and the use of treatments of proven efficacy.


A thesis on a Cifre scholarship with the Institut de l'Elevage was defended in December 2011. It produced a simple and original method for detecting digestive dermatitis in milking parlours for the detection and monitoring of the disease in a herd, knowledge of breeding practices and treatment protocols to reduce the incidence of the disease or improve its cure (excluding the use of molecules with toxic effects for humans or the environment) and an estimate of production losses due to the disease, an incentive factor for the adoption of control measures by breeders. The results form the basis of training modules and transfer documents, supports for the implementation of integrated approaches for the control of digestive dermatitis. They also give rise to scientific publications in the best journals and congresses in the field.


Methods for controlling the disease will be disseminated in particular by the Institut de l'Elevage, a partner of the UMT. Simple tools and knowledge about the impact of the disease should encourage their adoption by breeders. An improvement in intervention practices on affected farms is expected, as well as, in the long term, in the health of dairy herds and the well-being of dairy cows (the disease causes lameness).


  • Institut de l’Elevage

Federation around a common project of all animal health professionals in the Great West :

  • Union bretonne des groupements de défense sanitaire and Fédération régionale des groupements de défense sanitaire des Pays de la Loire (Regional Federation of Health Defence Groups in Pays de la Loire)
  • Brittany and Pays de la Loire Regional Unions of Veterinary Technical Groups


  • Relun A., Guatteo R., Roussel P., Bareille N. Informative value of a simple method to score digital dermatitis in dairy cows in the milking parlour. Journal of Dairy Science Nov;94(11):5424-34.
  • Relun A., Lehébel A., Bareille N., Guatteo R, Effectiveness of different regimens of a collective topical treatment using a solution of copper and zinc chelates in the cure of digital dermatitis in dairy farms under field conditions. Journal of Dairy Science (accepté).
  • Relun A., Lehébel A., Bareille N., Guatteo R. Estimation using survival analysis of the relative impact of treatment and management factors on the occurrence of digital dermatitis in dairy cattle. The Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (SVEPM) (Glasgow, 2012)


Modification date : 11 September 2023 | Publication date : 27 June 2017 | Redactor : AC