Remote Digital Autopsy (RDA)

why you should use a remote digital autopsy

A handy service for farmers needing a quick answer and find out "what went wrong".

As well as traditional autopsies, VetSouth also offers Remote Digital Autopsies (RDA) as an alternative. This is a result of a study we conducted 2 years ago. The study was to determine whether we could adopt the Canadian system of Remote Digital Autopsy (RDA) here in NZ.

This service is convenient for farmers who are looking to find a quick answer to why things went wrong for their animal(s), and some solid solutions to take preventative action in the future.

Particularly in the NZ dairy industry mortality is still poorly understood. There is little robust data on the annual incidence of loss and the cause of death in dairy cattle. Mortality in sheep, beef and deer is also poorly understood due to lack of reporting and seasonal assumptions. RDA’s are already being widely used overseas to record mortality and to gather valuable information on the cause of death occurring within their national herd.

What is an RDA and how does it work?

A technician will come out to your farm and take a series of images of the animal’s organs. These technicians are trained to perform simple, standardised autopsies, with the images fed back to pathologists who determine the cause of death. This approach has been shown to be very accurate, highly efficient and provides timely and valuable feedback to farmers who are then able to alter their strategies and processes immediately.

RDA’s are not just limited to cattle, they can be used for any species such as sheep, deer, pigs, goats etc. As well as the images, we can take samples if the KeyVet has asked for them, which can also be tested further down the line if needed.

There is a live database in which we enter the photos and a brief history of the animal before sending it off for analysis. The turnaround time for reporting is a maximum of 72 hours, with most cases being diagnosed within 24 hours.

What is the cost?

The standard price of adult cattle is $250 + GST per animal and $125 + GST per animal for calves. This includes travel and is notably less than a regular post mortem and associated laboratory costs.

How do I book?

It's simple, just call your closest clinic. From there we can determine whether an RDA is the right approach to investigate and if so, an experienced technician can come out to your farm.

- Laura Dalzel


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