Bacterial arthritis in lambs: how much does it really cost?
Bacterial arthritis in sheep is a painful and debilitating condition that is widespread across all sheep-raising regions and climatic zones of Australia.
We investigated the economic cost of arthritis in lambs presenting to an abattoir in southern Australia using a combination of the prevalence of arthritis detected during meat inspection, condemnation rates, trim weight and carcass weight, and fat measurements.
Data were collected on 354 lines of lambs representing 63 287 carcasses. One hundred and sixty nine consignments, or approximately one-half of the consignments, had at least one carcass with arthritis/polyarthritis detected by meat inspection personnel.
When arthritis was present, on average 2.0% of the line was affected.
The majority of carcasses with arthritis were trimmed rather than being fully condemned, with an average trim weight of 0.7 kg. In addition, arthritis reduced the growth of lambs by 1.2 kg hot standard carcass weight, approximately 2.7 kg liveweight (assuming 45% dressing percentage) and reduced fat cover by 1.8 mm.