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Impact of MLA Animal Health and Welfare Investments (2015–2020)

Did you know MLA has delivered vaccines and pain management products to improve the health and welfare of the red meat industry?

Project start date: 28 February 2019
Project end date: 02 August 2019
Publication date: 25 March 2020
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Sheep, Goat, Lamb, Grassfed cattle, Grainfed cattle
Relevant regions: National
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MLA manages several research and development (R&D) programs, including the Animal Health and Welfare program, which oversees R&D to improve and maintain a healthy red meat industry.

This project provided an independent estimate of the expected rate of adoption and industry impacts from seven areas of research investment in the previous five years, including vaccine development, probiotics and pain management.

Three products (single-shot cattle tick vaccine, novel Johne's disease vaccine for cattle and sheep and a treatment of Theileria orientalis) were estimated to offer the possibility of a significant impact on Australia's livestock if they were to be commercialised.


The purpose of this impact review was to evaluate the anticipated benefit and profitability of on-farm R&D investments within MLA's Animal Health and Welfare program. This review focused on the impact for on-farm profitability and did not include consideration of environmental or social benefits.

Key findings

  • A prototype single-dose vaccine against the cattle tick antigen, Bm86, aims to provide season-long protection against tick infestation from one injection. Research is still underway but if this vaccine is commercialised, it would be very attractive to northern beef producers as it could be used at annual mustering.
  • A novel vaccine is being developed to vaccinate sheep and cattle against Johne's disease. Early results indicated a protective effect and less severe injection site reactions of the novel vaccine in sheep, but further research is required to determine the benefits of the product in cattle.
  • There is currently no vaccine or treatment registered for tick-transmitted BATOG (bovine anaemia due to Theilieria orientalis group) in Australia and MLA is researching a chemical treatment and vaccine formulation for the prevention and/or treatment of clinical BATOG cases.

Benefits to industry

The results of this project help estimate the likely impact and adoption of some of MLA's animal health and welfare products. The review highlights knowledge gaps to assist industry's decision-making for future investments.

MLA action

A commercial partner has been engaged to complete development and registration of the Johne's Disease vaccine.

Work is still underway to find a viable method for infecting cattle with an immunising dose of T orientalis, and to effectively treat clinical cases of BATOG with currently available chemicals.

Although the immune response to one injection of the cattle tick vaccine has been encouraging, MLA has developed a project to refine the formulation to reduce injection site reactions.

More information

Contact email:
Primary researcher: AusVet Pty Ltd