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Prev Vet Med. 2010 Dec 1;97(3-4):264-9. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2010.09.017.

Predictors of the first between-herd animal movement for cattle born in 2002 in Ireland.

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Centre for Veterinary Epidemiology and Risk Analysis, UCD School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.


Movement of animals between farms represents a potential risk of bovine tuberculosis (BTB) and other disease transmission. The objectives of this study were to identify and quantify risk factors associated with the first between-herd movement of animals (denoted as risk move). A random sample of 1 percent of Irish calf births registered for 2002 (20,182 animals) was selected. Descriptive and survival analysis on movement over the period 2002-2005 was performed. A total of 12,119 (60%) of animals experienced a risk move over the 4-year study period. Among those that moved, 57% did so within the first 12 months of age. For animals in dairy herds, an early peak in risk move events was observed within the first 12 weeks of age; whereas in animals from suckler herds, a later risk move peak was observed between 21 and 36 weeks of age. The survival models identified a number of risk factors: two that appeared most important in predicting a risk move were gender and enterprise type. Males had a hazard ratio of 2.6 times that of females. The hazards for enterprise type, varied over time, thus a time-varying covariate (ent_type×ln(time)) was included in the Cox model. At 7 days of age, females in suckler herds were at 0.14 times the hazard of females in dairy herds for risk move, and over time, the hazards converged, equalised by day 140, and then diverged, so that by 4 years of age, females in suckler herds were at 4.64 times the hazard of females in dairy herds. Herds with a history of selling animals in previous years maintained that record during the study period with increased hazard of risk move. Enterprise type interacted with gender so that relative to females, males from dairy herds were at greater hazard of risk move than males from suckler herds. Hazard of risk move was also a function of ln (herd area), so that each doubling of farm area was accompanied by a 30.6% decrease in the hazards. The main conclusion was that risk of movement related disease transmission also depends on the purpose of the movement whether for breeding or for beef finishing. While males were at greater hazard of movement than females, they would have a shorter lifespan, thus limiting the opportunity for further transmission post-movement.

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