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Risk factors for mortality in cattle during live export from Australia by sea

Moore, S.J., Madin, B., Norman, G. and Perkins, N.R. (2015) Risk factors for mortality in cattle during live export from Australia by sea. Australian Veterinary Journal, 93 (10). pp. 339-348.

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Objective: This study investigated mortality trends and risk factors for death for cattle exported live from Australia by sea. Methods: Mortality data for all voyages from Australia to all destinations between 1995 and 2012 were analysed retrospectively. Daily mortality trends were assessed for 20 long-haul voyages from Australia to the Middle East and to the Russian Federation between 2010 and 2012. Results: The overall voyage mortality percentage was 0.17% across the 13 million cattle exported on 6447 voyages. Mortality rates decreased significantly after 2000 and stabilised at low levels from 2003. The mortality rate for voyages to the Middle East and north Africa (0.44%) was significantly higher than for voyages to south-east Europe (0.28%), north-east Asia (0.12%) and south-east Asia (0.09%). Cattle exported from ports in southern Australia carried a higher mortality risk than those exported from northern ports for both long- and short-haul voyages. The daily mortality rate on long-haul voyages peaked at 3-4 weeks post-departure, although there was a smaller peak at 1-2 weeks. Conclusion: The marked reduction in mortality rate since 2000 is related to a number of factors, including industry initiatives, government legislation and market demand, that have resulted in changes to both the selection of cattle for export and the management of cattle prior to and during voyages. Routine collection of animal performance data, combined with NLIS records and use of methods described here, have the potential to contribute to more effective management of mortality risks across the export chain.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Copyright: © 2015 Australian Veterinary Association.
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