«Minimising carcase losses for Better Returns The information in this booklet was compiled by While the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board ...»
BEEF AND SHEEP BRP MANuAl 9
losses for Better Returns
The information in this booklet was compiled by While the Agriculture and Horticulture Development
Board seeks to ensure that the information contained
liz Ford and Dr Phil Hadley, AHDB Beef & lamb,
using data supplied by the Food Standards Agency. within this document is accurate at the time of
printing, no warranty is given in respect thereof and, to
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1 Contents 2 Causes of rejection With increasingly t
Causes of rejection
The main causes for rejection at meat inspection in 2015 were:
• Liver fluke
• Bruising and trauma Figure 1: Rejection conditions for cattle slaughtered in English red meat plants in 2015 (%)
• Cysticercus tenuicollis
• Liver fluke
• Cysticercus ovis Figure 2: Rejection conditions for sheep slaughtered in English red meat plants in 2015 (%)
liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) In England in 2015, over 16.5% of cattle livers and nearly 4.5% of sheep livers were excluded from the human food chain due to liver fluke infestation.
Over recent years, there has been an increase in liver rejections due to fluke infection. Milder winters and wet summers have created an ideal environment for fluke to thrive and this is now a nationwide issue.
Levels of rejection can vary widely depending on the season and on the farm. More recently farms that have not historically had fluke problems are reporting their first Cattle liver showing infestation with fluke cases.
Once infected, animals can Figure 3: Monthly liver fluke rejections for cattle and sheep slaughtered carry liver damage all their in England in 2012 (%) life, resulting in reduced 30
Sheep Cattle Significant cost to producers Liver fluke costs the beef and sheep industry millions of pounds each year, with the vast majority of this loss being suffered by producers.
It is estimated that the annual loss to the meat trade is over £1.04 million. Although substantial, this is dwarfed by the cost to the producer of each case of liver fluke, due to lower growth rates, lower feed conversion efficiencies and higher levels of death, particularly in cases of acute infection in sheep.
These on-farm costs are estimated at £87 for each case in cattle and £5.56 for each sheep case – giving an on-farm cost to English producers in the order of £24 million per year. In reality, this could be significantly higher.
Liver fluke infections can also lead to lower fertility in breeding stock and predispose animals to other diseases that affect performance.
The fluke use mud snails found in pasture as intermediate hosts, which like to live in damp, muddy areas.
Wet, mild weather increases the risk on all farms, even those with no previous history of the problem.
5 Reducing liver fluke infection The control of liver fluke can be difficult. However a combination of management practices and a
well-planned anthelmintic programme will provide the best opportunity to reduce losses. Strategies include:
Identify a potential problem – make use of ‘risk-based’ warning systems such as that provided by the National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) and ask the abattoir if there are more liver rejections than normal.
Infections can also be detected by screening a group of stock for fluke eggs in the dung, or via blood testing.
Take early action – but avoid blanket anthelmintic treatment as this may not be necessary and a waste of money. It may also encourage the development of resistance to the product used.
Treat with an appropriate flukicide – use the right treatment for the right stage(s) of liver fluke. Check the details of the product selected and ask advice if in any doubt.
In autumn, where the risk is high and immature fluke are present, triclabendazole (TCBZ) is the drug of choice, unless it has been A cattle liver showing the damage fluke do to established that there are liver fluke resistant to this treatment on the bile ducts within the liver tissue.
the farm. In this case, seek advice on suitable alternatives.
If the risk is lower, alternatives can be used, for example a post-housing treatment of cattle.
Management practices – be aware of the risk of re-infection if animals are put back on high-risk grazing areas. Use tactics such as moving to low risk areas (ie not wet and muddy), fencing off high risk areas, or housing. If animals have to remain in a high risk area, monitoring for infection is essential and further treatments may be needed.
Quarantine all incoming stock. Avoid using combination fluke and worm products unless they are absolutely necessary, to reduce selection for resistance in worms.
It is important to seek veterinary advice on product selection and timing, preferably as part of a regular testing and treatment protocol set down in the herd or/and flock health plan.
Dose with care and do not over or under dose. Be prepared to split groups if there is significant variation in the weight of animals.
For further information:
The BRP cattle and sheep parasite control guide Better Returns from controlling liver fluke Controlling worms and liver fluke in cattle for Better Returns All available to view or download from beefandlamb.ahdb.org.uk, or email email@example.com or call 024 7647 8834 to request free hard copies.
6 Parasite infections Carcase rejections due to parasite infections spread by dogs and foxes can lead to significant losses in sheep.
In 2015, it was calculated over £4.1 million was lost to the English sheep industry due to Cysticercus ovis (C. ovis) being found in 0.61% of sheep (57,500).
Nearly £385,000 was lost due to 5.81% (548,000) livers being rejected with Cysticercus tenuicollis (C. tenuicollis).
Strategies to minimise parasite infections Once a sheep is exposed to tapeworm eggs, it is impossible to prevent cysts developing. So preventing sheep being exposed to the tapeworm is essential.
Producers are advised to:
• Ensure all farm dogs are routinely wormed at the correct dose with a product specifically for tapeworms
• Ensure dogs visiting farm premises are wormed appropriately, or ensure they do not access sheep grazing areas
• Consider fencing off public footpaths to keep other dogs from accessing sheep grazing where practical
• Ensure deadstock are removed quickly and disposed of correctly to prevent scavenging of carcases by dogs or foxes 8 Abscesses In England in 2015, over 1.2% of sheep carcases (114,500) and almost 6.5% of cattle carcases (96,000) contained abscesses.
One of the common causes is injecting livestock. Abscesses can form at injection sites and can be exacerbated by the use of dirty needles, or where administration technique is careless.
Abscesses have to be cut out of the carcase, taking time and also reducing meat yield, as well as potentially devaluing the primal cut or carcase. This is particularly the case in lamb carcasses, where trimming often results in downgrading.
Most abscesses are avoidable if injections are carried out with care, paying particular attention to good hygiene practice.
Examples of abscesses in the flank of cattle
Injection best practice Products should be stored and injections administered, according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
For best results follow these key guidelines:
• Always use a clean, sterile syringe and needle. If using a multiple injection gun, ensure the needle is disinfected between injections with a recognised sterilisation system. Never insert a used needle into a medicine bottle
• If the site to be injected is dirty, clean the skin and swab with an alcohol impregnated wipe or cotton wool. Avoid injecting animals that are wet
• Before injecting, check the expiry date and read and follow the directions of the product to be used. Some products need to be shaken first. Adhere to the stated withdrawal periods to ensure stock are not marketed too soon after the injection has been given
• Use the correct size of needle according to the size of the animal and site of injection
• Ensure the animal is adequately restrained before attempting the injection 9 Subcutaneous injections Subcutaneous injections are administered in areas where the skin is loose (mainly the neck or behind the shoulder). Grasp a fold of skin and slide the needle through the skin parallel to the animal’s neck or trunk.
This method will avoid penetration of underlying muscle.
The needle should be inserted several inches from the operator’s hand to avoid accidental self-injection. The plunger of the syringe should always be pulled back after entry to ensure the needle is not located within a blood vessel.
If a large dose is to be delivered, it may be advisable to split it between two injection sites. After the injection, briefly massage the site to improve the dispersal of the injected material.
liver abscesses Acidosis in cattle can lead to abscesses forming in the liver. The risk of acidosis increases when the starch and rapidly fermentable carbohydrate content of the ration rises. This leads to conditions in the rumen becoming too acidic and causing digestive upset and damage to the liver wall.
The presence of abscesses in the liver will lead to rejection of the liver at the abattoir, as well as affecting productivity on farm through lower liveweight gains.
Tips to avoid acidosis in cattle:
• Do not grind cereals into fine particles – crack the grain
• Offer moist cereals like crimped or treated grains
• Always have a source of long fibre, eg straw, available in racks to provide structural fibre – intakes are likely to be 0.5-1.5kg/day Liver showing severe abscesses likely Never let ad-lib feed hoppers run out so animals gorge on high • to be due to acidosis energy feeds when they are filled up If not feeding cereals ad-lib, feed in small meals throughout the • day. Avoid individual meal sizes greater than 2.5kg/head/feed for dry cereals
Bruising and trauma More than 22,000 cattle carcases slaughtered in England in 2015 showed signs of bruising and trauma.
Bruised carcases can be visually unappealing which may deter buyers, particularly in the lamb carcase trade.
They may also require trimming depending on severity. This not only reduces carcase weight, but may also exclude it from certain high value markets.
Handling stock potentially carries a significant risk of bruising, so it is important to ensure handling systems are well designed and regularly maintained to minimise the risk.
Inappropriate use of sticks can cause severe bruising in cattle, as can wool-pull in sheep, particularly spring lambs which bruise very easily. Care should also be taken in loading, transit and unloading, ensuring appropriate stocking densities are followed.
Other factors to consider Hide and skin damage Skin price can have a large effect on lamb value. Quality affects the skin price so ensure stock are handled and clipped or dagged carefully to reduce the risk of damage.
Obvious bruising on the side of a cattle carcase Consider the impact of poorly designed handling systems, (left) and lamb carcase showing bruising due to holding pens and fences and prevent injuries from any wool-pull (right) horned cattle within a group. The presence of ectoparasites such as lice, ticks and flies can also reduce the quality of hides and skins.
Stress Cattle carcases from agitated cattle, particularly young bulls, are susceptible to a meat quality condition called Dark Firm Dry (DFD), sometimes referred to as ‘Dark Cutters’.
Stress in the 24 -48 hours prior to slaughter depletes the muscles glycogen stores, resulting in meat with an abnormally high pH and a dark red colour. Appearance is an important factor when consumers buy meat, with a bright cherry red colour being most sought after.
Although not a safety issue for consumers, DFD meat will be sold at a discounted price. It also has a lower storage life than meat of normal pH.
It has been estimated this condition can reduce carcase value by as much as 50p/kg or £160 per carcase, however, this is considered to be a conservative estimate.
Avoid stressing cattle by:
• Handling them quietly and calmly The meat on the left has come from an animal that
• Not mixing animals from different groups suffered pre-slaughter stress