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Pilot study to understand the sheep health management issues in sheep farms in NSW

Jessica Boyd-weetman *, Wendy Muir * and Om Dhungyel **
* School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney
**Sydney School of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney

Posted Flock & Herd September 2021

With consumers becoming increasingly aware of where their food is sourced, there is also increasing pressure on farmers to ensure that they maintain high levels of welfare and health for their animals whilst also ensuring their practices are environmentally sustainable. The implementation of best practice management for farm procedures including disease control measures is known to reduce or eliminate the incident of disease on a farm, with programs and sources of information continuing to increase, becoming available to producers on key issues. Yet with this in mind, it is most often always up to the producer to adopt these measures and recommendations. Due to the large livestock to veterinary ratio within Australia, there is a large responsibility for farmers to report ill‐health and suspicious deaths within their flocks. It is important to understand where disease is occurring and the control, prevention and treatments that are being used by sheep farmers so that problem areas can be identified, and further research can be conducted. 

This questionnaire survey study aims to identify the most common sheep diseases at the farm level and to understand how the farmers deal or manage those and also get an understanding of the prevalence and impact of sheep diseases at the flock level within NSW. Additional aim is to assess the farmers’ existing understanding and knowledge and gaps if any with regards to disease control and management, and to assess additional resources required. This study will also investigate the perspectives of District Veterinarians and Biosecurity Officers servicing the same areas to better understand what form of information is most likely dispersed to sheep producers and to determine what knowledge sheep producers would benefit most from regarding disease management. As a pilot study, it is anticipated that the findings from this study will provide the basis for future research investigating the problem areas in terms of disease prevalence, control and management at farm level in NSW sheep farms.


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