Risk Factors for Whole Carcass Condemnations in the Swiss Slaughter Cattle Population

Vial, Flavie; Schärrer, Sara; Reist, Martin
April 2015
PLoS ONE;Apr2015, Vol. 10 Issue 4, p1
Academic Journal
We used meat-inspection data collected over a period of three years in Switzerland to evaluate slaughterhouse-level, farm-level and animal-level factors that may be associated with whole carcass condemnation (WCC) in cattle after slaughter. The objective of this study was to identify WCC risk factors so they can be communicated to, and managed by, the slaughter industry and veterinary services. During meat inspection, there were three main important predictors of the risk of WCC; the slaughtered animal's sex, age, and the size of the slaughterhouse it was processed in. WCC for injuries and significant weight loss (visible welfare indicators) were almost exclusive to smaller slaughterhouses. Cattle exhibiting clinical syndromes that were not externally visible (e.g. pneumonia lesions) and that are associated with fattening of cattle, end up in larger slaughterhouses. For this reason, it is important for animal health surveillance to collect data from both types of slaughterhouses. Other important risk factors for WCC were on-farm mortality rate and the number of cattle on the farm of origin. This study highlights the fact that the many risk factors for WCC are as complex as the production system itself, with risk factors interacting with one another in ways which are sometimes difficult to interpret biologically. Risk-based surveillance aimed at farms with reoccurring health problems (e.g. a history of above average condemnation rates) may be more appropriate than the selection, of higher-risk animals arriving at slaughter. In Switzerland, the introduction of a benchmarking system that would provide feedback to the farmer with information on condemnation reasons, and his/her performance compared to the national/regional average could be a first step towards improving herd-management and financial returns for producers.


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