Herd of beef cattle in a field with wind turbines in background.

Beef HealthCheck Introduction

Beef HealthCheck is an Animal Health Ireland-led programme developed in collaboration with Meat Industry Ireland.

The programme has developed tools to assist farmers and their veterinary practitioners to control losses due to liver fluke and pneumonia through capture, analysis and reporting of abattoir data from post mortem meat inspection. The programme is also contributing to the development, by ICBF, of economic breeding indices that incorporate health and disease data.

Beef HealthCheck uses touchscreen technology to allow veterinary inspectors to record their findings on liver and lung pathology. Reports for farmers on batches of animals presented to a factory are issued directly from meat factories. The information is then transferred to the ICBF database. The following factories are currently participating and capturing the health information: Athleague (Kepak), Ballyhaunis (Dawn), Bandon (ABP), Cahir (ABP), Charleville (Dawn), Clonee (Kepak), Clones (ABP), Cork (Kepak), Foyle, Grannagh (Dawn), Kilbeggan (Kepak), Nenagh (ABP), Rathdowney (Dawn), Rathkeale (ABP), Slane (Dawn), Slaney, Waterford (ABP).

AHI has now developed Beef HealthCheck Online. This new online dashboard for farmers and their veterinary practitioners provides more tools to search and analyse health and disease information from slaughtered cattle at a herd level. Beef HealthCheck Online can be accessed free of charge through the ICBF website. A booklet and video are available to help farmers access and interpret the information and share it with their veterinary practitioner.

Step-by-step guide to viewing Beef HealthCheck data on ICBF Booklet

As the information accumulates, Animal Health Ireland is looking at regional and national trends and this information is communicated back to the agricultural community, aiming to make farming in Ireland more sustainable and profitable. AHI is also looking at the economic impact of conditions found at slaughter on carcass weights and quality. A study in steers showed that animals with evidence of liver fluke at slaughter had an average liveweight of 36kg less than animals with healthy livers, at a standardised slaughter age. This was an average loss of €77 per animal.

ICBF have used the Beef HealthCheck data to develop breeding values for resistance to liver fluke infection in AI bulls and genotyped animals in Ireland. This allows for the selection of sires that are less likely to have progeny that become infected with liver fluke. More information is available on the ICBF website.