Docked tail length is a risk factor for bacterial arthritis in lambs

Lloyd, Joan, Kessell, Allan, Barchia, Idris, Schroder, Johann, and Rutley, David (2016) Docked tail length is a risk factor for bacterial arthritis in lambs. Small Ruminant Research, 144. pp. 17-22.

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Arthritis is commonly observed in lambs at slaughter, resulting in losses due to carcase downgrading, trimming or condemnation. The condition arises on-farm and is thought to be influenced by a number of predisposing factors, which vary in their ability to be addressed by sheep producers. The aim of this study was to investigate whether there is a link between tail length and arthritis in lambs. If there is, leaving a longer tail stump when docking may be a cost-effective way of reducing the prevalence of joint infections in lambs. The study was conducted at an abattoir in South Australia and included 63,287 carcases. This study found a correlation between short-docked tails (fewer than three coccygeal vertebrae remaining) and bacterial arthritis in lambs. Other risk factors for arthritis included breed and the regional source of the lambs, but not age. The constraints of data collection within the abattoir did not allow the effects of tail docking method, sex or whether male lambs had been castrated on the prevalence of bacterial arthritis to be determined. The bacterium most commonly isolated from abnormal joints was Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, followed by Streptococcus spp., including Streptococcus suis.

Item ID: 47040
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0921-4488
Keywords: sheep, arthritis, tail docking, Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, Streptococcus suis
Funders: Australian sheep producers, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), South Australian Sheep Industry Fund, Animal Health Australia
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2017 07:37
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3003 Animal production > 300304 Animal protection (incl. pests and pathogens) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8303 Livestock Raising > 830310 Sheep - Meat @ 100%
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