Investigating the impact of fasciolosis on cattle carcase performance
Liver fluke is a manifestation of bovine fasciolosis and its presence is compulsorily investigated as part of routine official abattoir inspections. It is known that the presence of fasciolosis negatively influences beef production, interfering with weight gain and fertility. Recent reports suggest increased occurrence of this parasite worldwide. This paper aims to investigate the impact of fasciolosis on beef cattle performance by examining the association of liver fluke with carcase characteristics and its value. Cattle slaughtered between 2005 and 2010 (328, 137 cattle (of which 12.6% were positive to liver fluke) sourced from 2278 farms) are analysed adjusting for the effect of gender, age, breed, season and year. Carcases with liver fluke have lower cold weight than those carcases free of fluke, estimated coefficient −0.63 kg (95% confidence intervals (CI) −0.93, −0.33). Carcases with liver fluke have lower price than those carcases free of fluke, estimated coefficient −£1.5 (95% CI −2.24, −0.74). The presence of liver fluke is associated with lower carcase conformation scores compared to carcases with fluke absence, proportional odds ratio (POR) 0.89 (95% CI 0.87–0.91). Similarly, the presence of liver fluke is associated with lower levels of fat in the carcase compared to carcases with fluke absence, POR 0.97 (95% CI 0.95–0.99). These results indicate a potential negative effect of the parasitism on carcase performance. The downgrading of the carcase impacts its value and therefore the price paid to the farmer. Both farmers and abattoir operators share a common interest in the control of fasciolosis in order to optimise the profitability of beef production. This study shows the utility of abattoir post-mortem inspection as a tool to monitoring animal health and production. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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