Diagnosis of stock loss during Covid-19 lockdown

While part of our lives are in standstill, there are still parts that will continue as per usual. One being the frustration of unexplained stock mortality. Particularly in the NZ dairy industry, mortality is still poorly understood.

What do we know?
There is very little robust data on the annual incidence of loss, nor of the causes of death of dairy cattle. Mortality in sheep, beef and deer is also poorly understood due to lack of reporting and general seasonal assumptions.

How can we continue to help during lockdown?
Getting answers is more important than ever right now. The laboratories are not currently processing autospies but we are still able to assist thanks to 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 tool was already being widely used overseas to record mortality and to gather valuable information on the cause of death for losses that were occurring within their national herd.

How does RDA work?
The RDA is completed by technicians taking 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.

How long will it take to get results back?
There is a live database in which we enter the photos and a brief history of the animal before sending 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/deer is $250 + GST per animal, and $135 + GST per animal for sheep. This is notably less than a regular post mortem and associated laboratory costs.

How will we keep you safe?
Our technicians can visit to undertake a photographic autopsy that is both remote and isolated from you and your team.

To make a booking contact our Farm Services team on 0800 VETSOUTH (0800 8387 6884).


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