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Piloting an automated endemic disease investigation service for sheep producers

Did you know the 'Sheep health' web tool will allow producers to assess the quality of their animal disease program? 

Project start date: 02 January 2017
Project end date: 01 February 2019
Publication date: 27 June 2019
Livestock species: Sheep, Lamb
Relevant regions: National
Download Report (0.9 MB)

Summary

Sheep producers who receive information on diseases and health conditions of sheep in their flock have no way to easily assess whether adding or removing disease controls (e.g. a vaccination booster) to manage endemic diseases would result in more, or less, profit.

This project has delivered a user-friendly web tool – Sheep health tool, which allows sheep producers to assess the quality and cost-effectiveness of alternative endemic disease control measures.

The web tool allows producers to access information on the severity of a disease, its impact on profitability, and access effective disease controls measures to better understand their most economic control program.

Objectives

This project aimed to enable producers to find the most cost-effective management approach to diseases and health conditions diagnosed in their sheep using a producer-friendly web tool.

Key findings

  • Sheep health tool is a producer-friendly web-based tool that takes basic information from a producer's flock production and income, summary disease statistics and control activities to estimate the financial threshold that limits the profitability of any further intervention against each disease or health conditions i.e. treatment or vaccination.
  • The cost of control and the residual disease losses can be compared with other producers, to performance in previous years and to explore the effects of proposed changes to disease control. This informs and empowers producers to best manage endemic disease to maximise profit.
  • There has been positive reception to Sheep health tool by producer pilot groups.

Benefits to industry

The economic impact of endemic diseases can generally be reduced through a variety of interventions. This tool enables selection of the optimal strategy catered for individual producers.

MLA action

The Sheep health tool is now publically available for use and its progress and success will be monitored over time.

Future research

Should the web tool prove successful, a similar tool for endemic cattle diseases diagnosed at slaughter would be a logical next step. 

More information

Contact email: reports@mla.com.au
Primary researcher: Herd Health Pty Ltd