Sheep health

Maintaining sheep health is vital, because well-cared for sheep are the most productive and profitable.

Sheep health and wellbeing is fundamental to the success and sustainability of every farm, and producers are held accountable.

Fast Facts

AHA manages Australia’s National Sheep Health Monitoring Project which monitors adverse health conditions of sheep in abattoirs.

Unlike many other countries, Australia is free from transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

An initiative of the Integrity Systems Company, myFeedback provides feedback on animal health information and carcass compliance to producers.

Maintaining sheep health and welfare

Australia has a comprehensive national framework aimed at achieving good sheep health outcomes, with a strong emphasis on collaboration and co-investment across state borders and other livestock industries.

Biosecurity is a shared responsibility, with all participants having a role in delivering effective biosecurity outcomes. The Australian Government is responsible for international animal health and biosecurity matters that are intended to keep Australia free of exotic pathogens pests and diseases, as well as disease reporting, export certification and trade negotiation. It also coordinates and provides advice on national policy for animal health and welfare.

Each state and territory governments has legislative responsibility and enforcement powers for animal health and welfare within their borders. These governments invest in veterinary officers and animal health inspectors so that Australia has a national, regional and local disease surveillance capability.

Through an effective biosecurity system, Australia enjoys freedom from many damaging livestock diseases, such as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

Monitoring sheep health

Animal Health Australia manages Australia’s National Sheep Health Monitoring Project (NSHMP), which commenced in 2007 to monitor adverse health conditions of sheep in abattoirs. In the NSHMP, qualified inspectors monitor sheep health at 10 domestic and export abattoirs located across Australia. Data from the monitoring is then entered into a national database (the Endemic Disease Information System).

In 2022-23, approximately 10 million sheep were inspected in the project.

Sheep Health Assurance

Australia has a voluntary system of National Sheep Health Declarations (SHD). Through the use of SHDs growers can declare the health of sheep when sold.

SHDs are an important tool for buyers assessing the health status and management history of sheep.

The SHD facilitates animal health and biosecurity risk transparency as sheep are bought and sold, which aims to reduce the transfer of risk from one producer to the next.

The Integrity Systems Company (ISC) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Meat and Livestock Australia and has a role for managing the national integrity programs (National Livestock Identification System, Livestock Production Assurance, and National Vendor Declarations).