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Focus Area 3 Components


Animal welfare

Establishment and refinement of all farming or processing practices which lead to the introduction and maintenance of acceptable animal welfare standards, commensurate with good farming practice and profitability. This is also essential for ensuring consumer acceptance and international trade in animal products.

This includes management, nutrition, housing, shelter, handling, farm procedures, reproduction, health care, transport, pre-slaughter handling and slaughter.  The recommendations must be based in part on the animal’s needs and in part on the owner’s or operators needs.  They should take cognizance of the “5 Freedoms” (“freedom” from pain and discomfort, hunger and thirst, injury and disease, fear and distress, and to perform essential behavioural patterns) as well as “the 3 R’s” (Reduce, Refine, Replace)

i. Establishment and codification into law of comprehensive national minimum and optimum standards for management, nutrition, housing, shelter, handling, farm procedures, reproduction, health care, transport, pre-slaughter handling and  slaughter.  These guidelines must compare favourably with similar codes set up internationally.
ii. Improvements in production and processing practices which lead to improvements in animal welfare commensurate with producer efficiency or profits. Establishment and improvement of cost-effective and humane measures to provide livestock with acceptable shelter, handling management, health care, transport, pre-slaughter handling and slaughter.  This will result in better consumer acceptance and more effective use of inputs.

B             Aetiological Studies

This comprises the development and refinement of knowledge using appropriate cutting-edge technology (like molecular biotechnology) of the essential cause (the pathogen or toxin) which together with the sufficient causes (contributory factors) gives enough epidemiological knowledge to enable appropriate control measures to be taken.

Precise genetic characterization of microscopic pathogens to enable appropriate epidemiological studies, diagnostic tests and vaccine or other control measures to be undertaken.
ii. Proper genetic characterization of important ectoparasites as this knowledge may affect surveillance, diagnosis or control measures.
iii. Full genetic characterisation of important endoparasites as this knowledge may affect surveillance, diagnosis or control measures.
iv. Accurate Identification of toxins which influence animal production.
v. Development of appropriate knowledge bases of disease prevalence and surveillance for identified important diseases.
vi. Implementation of disease status certification systems in support of livestock trade.
vii. Knowledge of geographic or evolutionary origins of pathogens and changes which occur in respect of virulence, resistance to treatment or response to vaccines, and disease transmission.
viii. Recognition of disease conditions previously unknown in South Africa.

Animal / Pathogen / Environment Interactions

Knowledge of all the contributory (sufficient cause) factors which contribute to the establishment and severity of disease is vital to understanding and controlling important diseases.  Understanding immunological response, including at cellular and molecular level, allows inter alia for better vaccine development. Knowledge of vector/host/pathogen interactions allows for the understanding of the epidemiology of diseases and thus enables risk assessment to be undertaken.   Effects of toxins from any source (plants, feed, organisms, and environment) depend on many factors which must be understood to devise effective control or prevention.  The ability of the host to resist diseases or their effects (resistance and resilience) forms a vital part of understanding these interactions.  The impact   of   nutrition   and management is also an essential part of this interaction.

The financial impact of disease and control measures must also be understood and calculated to ensure that diagnostic, surveillance and control measures are optimised.
i. The influence of contributory influences like nutrition and management are elucidated and available for practical implementation to lower the impact of diseases.
ii. Knowledge of all environmental interactions enables the development of better, integrated and holistic disease control strategies.
iii. The influence of disease on production economics will be quantified and therefore national risk assessment and control measures can be undertaken.


The improvement of existing or introduction of new diagnostic technology to enable the rapid, precise, sensitive, reliable, practical and cost-effective identification of a range of pathogens or toxins will contribute to better disease control.
i. The establishment of efficient diagnostic tests using appropriate technology to enable the detection of a range of important diseases.
ii. This technology will enable effective disease or toxin monitoring, and thus disease status certification, which may impact on the economics of the industry.
iii. Good diagnostic procedures enable the accurate determination of the economic impact of disease on animal production.


Disease control strategies

Control strategies must be developed which are sustainable, biologically sound, economically justifiable, ecologically acceptable, internationally recognized and fully integrated with practical farming and product processing systems.  Such strategies demand a comprehensive knowledge and the availability of technology for determining the aetiological factors which contribute towards disease, as well as appropriate diagnostic and surveillance methods.

i. Effective, reliable and cost-efficient vaccines become available, using appropriate available technologies.
ii. Alternative and complementary strategies are developed to control diseases on a holistic, sustainable and integrated basis.
iii. Management and nutritional strategies are established to minimise the impact of disease.
iv. New and / or improved systems and drugs to treat diseases.