National Sheep Health Monitoring Project
The National Sheep Health Monitoring Project (NSHMP) commenced in 2007 to monitor lines of adult sheep in abattoirs for animal health conditions that reduce farm profit through productivity losses or increase meat processing wastage.
Monitoring occurs in 14 domestic and export processing plants located in all states. Lines of sheep are monitored by qualified meat inspectors and company-based personnel for a range of livestock production health and welfare conditions. The data from the monitoring is collected and entered into a national database (the Endemic Disease Information System). Some state jurisdictions provide producers with individual animal health status reports on the lines inspected.
The project aims to:
- monitor sheep for a range of significant animal health diseases and conditions which reduce productivity in the sheep value chain or can impact on market access
- provide feedback to producers about the conditions occurring in their flock
- enhance productivity within the sheep value chain by improving the quality of product entering the chain
- explore options for a comprehensive and cost-effective animal disease monitoring/surveillance system and post-mortem inspection service that will provide accurate and timely animal health information.
This will lead to further improvements in Australia’s animal health status, maximised market access, improved profitability, informed future investment into R&D, and enhanced biosecurity.
Sheep health conditions being monitored
Sixteen significant animal health conditions are monitored for throughout Australia. These are:
|Arthritis||Knotty gut/ pimply gut|
|Bladder worm||Liver fluke|
|Johne’s disease||Vaccination lesions|
Additional conditions are monitored for in South Australia through the Enhanced Abattoir Surveillance Program.
The five main benefits of sheep carcase monitoring:
- The project has generated comprehensive data that provides a good indication of the animal health status of the Australian flock.
- Governments, industry groups and processors use this information to provide solid evidence in support of market access and to demonstrate the high quality of Australian sheepmeat product.
- Individual sheep producers can use this information to improve their flocks’ productiveness and fine tune their animal health programs.
- Sheepmeat processors can harness the opportunity to reduce product non-compliance, thereby lifting productivity and reducing costs.
- Individual reports have been returned to sheep producers in South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and NSW.
Analysis of sheep health data
While the animal health conditions identified to date occur nationally, there is regional variation.
In 2015-2016 over 4 million sheep were inspected in nearly 20,000 lines. The data shows that the proportion of affected lines for some conditions (e.g. sheep measles and cheesy gland) is high, but the average number of sheep infected in a processing line is quite low.
A report commissioned in 2009 by Cattle Council of Australia, Sheepmeat Council of Australia, WoolProducers Australia, Goat Industry Council of Australia and Australian Meat Industry Council confirmed the benefit to the whole supply chain from information collected during abattoir monitoring.
WoolProducers Australia and Sheepmeat Council of Australia are the peak industry bodies for this project. Funding is through Animal Health Australia sheep meat and wool levies.
Each state department of primary industries has appointed a state coordinator to facilitate the return of data to producers and provide extension advice about the conditions that are monitored.
A list of state coordinators is available here.
A number of factsheets have been developed by the Livestock Biosecurity Network on behalf of the Sheep Health Project Steering Committee. Each factsheet covers an individual disease and includes information such as what the disease is, how it presents on farm, how it is spread and treatment and prevention options.
NSHMP economic modelling
In 2015-2016 the NSHMP was reviewed by Greenleaf Enterprises Pty Ltd. As part of the review, economic modelling was developed and the results are in this extract report.