Young boy with herd in Kitengela, Kenya. Photo: S. Mann (ILRI)

We need new ways to measure animal health

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of tracking health indicators – but also of choosing the right indicators to track. This holds for both human and animal populations.

Prof. Andy Peters, program director for SEBI-Livestock writes in European Scientist:

For researchers tracking long-term animal health challenges, mortality rates are not always an accurate metric to assess the state of animal health in a country and monitor changes over the years. Mortality can fluctuate enormously, impacted by unpredictable climatic events such as feed or water shortages, or infectious disease outbreaks.

Alternative measures to assess mortality in animals, such as mortality in young animals or the number of offspring surviving beyond a year, can give a more accurate indication of overall livestock health.

Mortality up to six months, for example, is a much more accurate measure because most livestock deaths tend to occur in the first weeks of life, so this metric provides a more consistent way to identify new or unexpected threats to survival and life expectancy.

The article follows a new systematic review of livestock mortality indicators, published by the SEBI-Livestock team inĀ Gates Open Research.

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Vanessa Meadu, Communications and Knowledge Exchange Specialist, SEBI-Livestock
Page created: 03 Mar 2022 Page last reviewed: 03 Mar 2022