National Sheep Health Monitoring Project

The National Sheep Health Monitoring Project (NSHMP) commenced in 2007 to monitor lines of sheep in abattoirs for animal health conditions that reduce farm profit through productivity losses or increase meat processing wastage.

 

Monitoring occurs in 10 domestic and export processing plants located in all states. Lines of sheep are monitored by qualified meat inspectors 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.

Additional surveillance occurs in South Australia through the Enhanced Abattoir Surveillance Program, funded through state industry levies.

Check out the video below or this NSHMP fact sheet (pdf – 1 MB) for more information and to find out how to get involved.

Conditions being monitored

Twenty significant animal health conditions are monitored for throughout Australia. These are:

  • Arthritis
  • Bladder worm
  • Bruising
  • Cheesy gland
  • Cirrhosis
  • Dog bites
  • Fever/septicaemia
  • Grass seeds
  • Hydatids
  • Knotty gut/pimply gut
  • Liver fluke
  • Lung worm
  • Nephritis
  • Pleurisy
  • Pneumonia
  • Rib fractures
  • Sarcocystis
  • Sheep measles
  • Vaccination lesions

Ovine Johne’s disease

Ovine Johne’s disease (OJD) monitoring is now on request in most participating abattoirs.

*Producers who want this additional condition inspected for in their sheep need to request it from the participating abattoir when sending their sheep to it. Sheep must be over two years of age to be inspected for OJD.

This should be done well in advance of the sheep being sent to the abattoir (e.g. one week).

Requirements and eligibility of sheep

Animals must be over 2 years of age to be eligible for abattoir JD inspection. Sheep under two years have generally not had sufficient time to develop signs of the disease and thus be identified through abattoir inspection.

Only consignments of sheep sold direct to a participating abattoir will be eligible. Sheep sold through saleyards will not be eligible.

What is Abattoir 150 and 500?

Abattoir 150

At least 150 sheep, over two years of age, have been submitted to an abattoir in the past 12 months, in one or more lots, and have been examined and all found negative for JD in sheep. The sheep must have been on the property for at least two years.

Abattoir 500

At least 500 sheep, over two years of age, have been submitted to an abattoir in the past 24 months, in one or more lots, and have been examined and all found negative for JD in sheep. The sheep must have been on the property for at least two years.

If JD is detected?

If lesions consistent with JD are detected in the abattoir inspection, samples will be taken and sent to a lab.

These lesions will then be assessed microscopically by a Veterinary Pathologist to confirm whether the JD bacterium is present and responsible for the lesions sampled.

Once confirmed by the laboratory, your state government representative will inform you of the final results (usually by letter) and can assist you with options on how to proceed in the management of the disease.

If JD is not detected?

Having no lesions detected in a consignment does not necessarily mean your flock is free from JD. It means that it is unlikely JD has been present for a long period of time at a significant level within this group of animals, or that management on farm through long term, appropriate JD vaccination is working if there have been cases in the past.

Regular faecal testing of a representative sample of your flock is still the best way to demonstrate that your flock is at low-risk of having JD.

At the request of the producer, their respective state government can issue certificates for animals slaughtered within the state, verifying that the sheep flock is eligible for either an Abattoir 150 or Abattoir 500 status. This can then be used when declaring your JD status on the National Sheep Health Declaration.

Requesting JD inspection

Organisation

Name

Contact

Department of Primary Industries and Regions, SA Jessie Thomson, Animal Health Adviser P: (08) 8568 6400

M: 0427 274 102

E: jessie.thomson@sa.gov.au

Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Victoria Robert Suter, Senior Veterinarian P:  (03) 9217 4109

M: 0447 525 635

E:  robert.suter@codev.vic.gov.au

Department of Primary Industries, NSW N/A E: animal.biosecurity@dpi.nsw.gov.au
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, WA Anna Erickson, Veterinary Officer, State Ovine Johne’s disease Activity Leader P: 08 9881 0211

M: 0437 801 416

E: Anna.Erickson@dpird.wa.gov.au

Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania N/A P: (03) 6165 3263

E: AnimalDisease.Enquiries@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

Benefits of sheep carcase monitoring

1. The project has generated comprehensive data that provides a good indication of the animal health status of the Australian flock.
2. 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.
3. Individual sheep producers can use this information to improve the productiveness of their flock and fine tune their animal health programs.
4. Sheepmeat processors can harness the opportunity to reduce product non-compliance, thereby lifting productivity and reducing costs.
5. Individual reports have been returned to sheep producers in South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and NSW.

Analysis of sheep health data

In 2018-19 over 8.7 million sheep were inspected in over 39,000 lines. The data shows that the proportion of affected lines for some conditions (e.g. pleurisy and cheesy gland) is high, but the average number of sheep infected in a processing line is quite low.

While the animal health conditions monitored for occur nationally, there is regional variation. Information on NSHMP inspection is contained in the annual report.

Snapshot reporting

This report provides a snapshot summary of the data collected through the NSHMP. This report is aimed to help producers understand the cause, on-farm impact, significance at abattoir and prevention of conditions monitored through the NSHMP.

NSHMP Snapshot Report 2018 (pdf – 3 MB)

NSHMP Snapshot Report 2017 (pdf – 4 MB)

Stakeholders

WoolProducers Australia and Sheep Producers 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.

Meat & Livestock Australia now provide the NSHMP data (except for OJD) through the LDL portal, which all producers can access here: ldl.mla.com.au/authentication/login

State coordinators

Organisation

Name

Contact

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Dr Louise Moore P: (07) 4688 1470

E: Louise.Moore@daf.qld.gov.au

Department of Primary Industries, NSW Dr Graham Bailey P:  (02) 6391 3455

E: graham.bailey@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Victoria Dr Alison Lee P: 0418 176 428

E: Alison.Lee@agriculture.vic.gov.au

Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania Marianne Hevern P: 0436 813 016

E: marianne.hevern@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

Department of Primary Industries and Regions, SA Dr Alison Crawley P:  (08) 8429 0866

E: Allison.Crawley@sa.gov.au

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, WA Dr Kristine Rayner P: (08) 9845 7413

E: Kristine.Rayner@agric.wa.gov.au

Industry contacts

Sheep Producers Australia: admin@sheepproducersaustralia.com.au

WoolProducers Australia: admin@woolproducers.com.au

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.