Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Remote identification of sheep with flystrike using behavioural observations

Grant, E.P., Wickham, S.L., Anderson, F., Barnes, A.L.ORCID: 0000-0002-7227-230X, Fleming, P.A.ORCID: 0000-0002-0626-3851 and Miller, D.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-4634-5819 (2019) Remote identification of sheep with flystrike using behavioural observations. Animals, 9 (6). Article 368.

PDF - Published Version
Download (652kB) | Preview
Free to read:
*No subscription required


Flystrike is a major problem affecting sheep in Australia. Identification of ‘flystruck’ individuals is crucial for treatment; but requires labour-intensive physical examination. As the industry moves toward more low-input systems; there is a need for remote methods to identify flystruck individuals. The aim of this study was to investigate the behaviour of sheep with breech flystrike within a paddock setting. Video footage of sixteen Merino sheep; eight later confirmed with flystrike and eight without; was collected as they moved freely within the paddock with conspecifics. Quantitative behavioural measurements and a qualitative behavioural assessment (QBA) were conducted and compared to their breech conditions (i.e., faecal/urine staining; flystrike severity). Both qualitative and quantitative assessments indicated behavioural differences between flystruck and non-flystruck animals. Flystruck sheep had a behavioural profile characterised by restless behaviour; abnormal postures and reduced grazing time (<i>p</i> < 0.05). Furthermore; flystruck sheep were scored to have a more ‘exhausted/irritated’ demeanour using QBA (<i>p</i> < 0.05). The behavioural responses also corresponded to the flystrike severity scores and condition of the breech area. We conclude that remotely assessed behaviour of flystruck sheep diverges markedly from non-flystruck sheep; and thus could be a low-input method for identifying and treating affected animals.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education
Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)
Copyright: © 2019 MDPI
United Nations SDGs: Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year