Animal health performance feedback from processors promises to reduce massive annual loss to industry


Jon Condon, BEEF Central (Australia)

July 27, 2020


BEEF producers across Australia are this month starting to receive more detailed feedback about the animal health performance of their slaughter cattle being direct consigned to a number of large processors across four states.


Since June, feedback sheets from about a dozen large beef processors have included data on condition of various offals on an individual animal basis, linked back to NLIS tag numbers and in some cases, management tags. NLIS will in fact become an important ‘enabler’ in the new project.


Some of the data is supplied direct from the processor involved, while for others, it will come via MLA’s Livestock Data Link (LDL) program.


Dr John Langbridge from Teys Australia, whose company in rolling-out data recording on animal health defects, said the first planning for an animal health reporting platform started four or five years ago.


“One of the key challenges in delivering the system was in making sure that the capture of the information is as accurate and consistent as possible, and that data capture is consistent from plant to plant, and from inspector to inspector,” he said.


Senior adoption manager with the Integrity Systems Company, Bec Austin, said part of the necessary development behind the animal health reporting project was the creation of a recording standard, so that offal condition was reported similarly from site to site at the post mortem level. In essence, it was important for producers to be able to compare reported results with some reliability from one processor to another, she said.


Teys Australia was one of the first to adopt the animal health reporting standard, and has now launched its own feedback reporting system. Teys is releasing the data to producers supplying the company’s Biloela, Lakes Creek and Beenleigh plants in Queensland, as well as Wagga in NSW and Naracoorte in South Australia.


Bindaree Beef at Inverell, Australian Country Choice at Cannon Hill, Midfield Meats and Gundagai Meat Processors are also now issuing the new animal health reporting information (or will shortly begin doing so.)


A number of other plants are delivering similar data to suppliers using the same standards, but through Livestock Data Link (LDL). These include Northern Cooperative Meat Co, Casino; JBS Brooklyn (currently shut due to COVID infections); NH Foods’ Wingham (NSW) and Oakey Beef Exports (Qld).


Collectively, around two million head of slaughter cattle could be recorded under the system over the first 12 months.


Currently five offal conditions are being reported – the most commercially significant ones, that producers can do something about in their management. They include liver fluke, hydatids, liver abscess, pneumonia and nephritis (kidney damage). Some sites are recording intestinal condition and other parasites. This list may grow over time -for example in some areas, conditions like lumpy jaw, caused by certain grasses, may be included.


For producers receiving feedback on these conditions, they can then link through to information on the condition, what it means, and what can be done about it.


Typically, a plant providing animal health reporting will have an inspector stationed along the chain, using a touch-sensitive screen to record offal data on each set of offals as it passes.


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