Animal heath is critical to the performance and profitability of livestock systems, but, going beyond the good herdsmanship of being able to spot an animal that is out of sorts, often involves the vet and associated cost. The new Obsalim® system from France has been developed to allow farmers, vets and other involved in livestock production to diagnose animal health issues related to feeding and to then change feed to resolve the problems and get animal health and performance back on track. There are a set of pictorial cards and software that diagnose the animal through observation of eyes, hooves, skin, hide, dung, urine and other indicators and which covers cattle, sheep and goats.
There have been a number of reviews and trials of the system by farmer groups and organisations in the EU, and they have all been positive about the system. Many have gained valuable new understanding of animal health and nutrition coupled with behavioural aspects, such as giving animals specific rumination times.
The main caveat is that the system is more suited to feeding rather than grazing systems, as, the options for changing feed in a grazing system, especially extensive ones, is limited, as is the opportunity to assess all the observations, while in confined systems producers are always close to the stock making observations easier, and, there is complete control over the diet. Even so, those farmers on pasture systems said Obsalim® was still valuable and worth the effort.