Snag a statement to protect your flock

With ram sale season in full swing, buyers are being urged to protect their flocks from unwanted diseases by asking for a Sheep Health Statement.

The SHS has been designed for use across Australia to help sheep producers in taking a risk-management approach to their farm biosecurity.

It provides information on flock history, Ovine Johne’s Disease vaccination and . . . → Read More: Snag a statement to protect your flock

Grandin’s advice for Australian live export industry

AVA Annual Conference, 28 May 2013,  Cairns Convention Centre.Livestock slaughter expert Temple Grandin has recommended abattoirs install video surveillance to reduce cruelty.

Grandin was in Cairns recently to address the AVA conference, and she told Bush Telegraph that Australia should have more power to monitor slaughter facilities abroad when engaged in live exports.

She said companies such as Cargill Incorporated and JBS have video in U.S. plants where footage can be accessed on the internet at any time.

Live export conditions remain topical, and ships to Egypt were recently suspended following the release of brutal slaughter footage by animal welfare activists.

AQIS-accredited veterinary surgeon Lloyd Reeve-Johnson said Grandin’s suggestion of web-cam based monitoring becomes realistic if one considers minimal public trust in the current system and its “repeated failures” to prevent major welfare issues.

“The initial reaction of many in the industry may be that her suggestion is unworkable or an unnecessary expense,” he said.

“If a sceptical public is ever to be convinced that live animal export is necessary for economic of other reasons, measures beyond the ordinary such as constant web-cam surveillance with independent expert oversight could benefit not only the welfare of millions of animals, but the trade itself.”

Reeve-Johnson said the same idea could be applied to shipboard conditions with intermittent satellite feeds of video footage and displays monitoring ammonia, temperatures, humidity and other variables to counter potential human selectivity in placement of sensors or reporting.

He added that the footage would “only supplement” the introduction of independent shipboard veterinary oversight who are not directly employed by exporters. Continue reading Grandin’s advice for Australian live export industry

Mulesing debate continues

A study conducted by the University of Melbourne’s Mackinnon Project that compared the controversial practice of mulesing with the use of breech clips, and applications of a long-acting insecticide to combat breech flystrike in sheep, has found that mulesing remains the most effective method.

The three-year study, which did not include animal welfare outcomes, was led by project director, and Australian Sheep Vet Society member, John Larsen, and involved more than 6000 sheep in three self-replacing merino flocks at Nareen, Ballarat and East Gippsland, in Victoria.

Publication of the results coincided with renewed pressure by animal welfare groups on the fashion industry, urging it to ban the use of mulesed wool in the manufacture of garments, and urging farmers to ban the practice of mulesing.

Although results are still being finalised, the study has shown that clips were less effective and cost-effective as had been hoped, and provided little protection from strike during spring and early summer. Animals that were treated with the insecticide Clik however, showed a similar or lower prevalence of flystrike to mulesed sheep during the pre-Christmas peak breech-strike period.

“There was no difference in the prevalence of breech strike between the mulesed and unmulesed groups but once the protection from the chemical expired after Christmas, the unmulesed sheep were at greater risk of breech strike compared to both the clipped and mulesed ones,” Larsen said.

While no farmer enjoys the “unpleaseant” task of mulesing Larsen said it was still an effective method, although he stressed breeding for less wrinkle and wool on the breech was clearly the way forward, and where the industry “should be going aggressively”. Continue reading Mulesing debate continues

Organic farming: where are the vets?

An unexpected aspect of the growth in popularity of organic farming has revealed a lack of vets trained to treat organically farmed animals. This shortage was highlighted recently in the US, and has also been recognised in the UK. With growing public concern about intensively farmed animals, and a rise in demand for organically grown meat, similar challenges could soon face Australia’s organic farmers should their animals require veterinary treatment.

The results of a survey conducted in the US recently, that looked at the issue of veterinary care for organic producers, revealed herd health presented few challenges for most farmers, since they were generally able to handle most health problems themselves without consulting a vet.

The study was led by Jenny O’Neill, an Iowa State University graduate student in sustainable agriculture, and participants in the survey involved members of the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association who work with food animals, and organic livestock producers certified by the US Department of Agriculture. Continue reading Organic farming: where are the vets?

First the floods, now animal welfare issues

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPA) and the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) have advised flood-hit communities to be prepared for animal welfare issues.

DPI Bourke’s veterinary officer Charlotte Cavanagh, said a number of ailments become more prevalent in wet conditions.

“When the floods are on, a lot of animals are standing in water, so hooves become softened, which can lead the way to foot abscesses, especially when access to stock becomes limited due to the water,” she said.

Cavanagh said the combination of flooding and warm weather could also pose problems. Continue reading First the floods, now animal welfare issues