In 1983, promoters of the concept that would become the USDA's National Animal Health Monitoring System envisioned a program that would monitor changes and trends in national animal health and management. They hoped to identify opportunities for improvement, provide up-to-date information for research and special studies, and detect emerging problems.
NAHMS reports from 1996-1999 describe changes in the swine, dairy cattle, and beef cattle industries over five-year periods. An additional new report was published in August 2000 titled "Changes in the US Feedlot Industry, 1994-1999."
One of the many findings was that death loss as a percentage of cattle within the NAHMS Sentinel Feedlot program increased from one percent in 1994 to 1.4 percent in 1999. The proportion dying from respiratory deaths increased while the proportion dying from digestive deaths decreased.
Another report, NAHMS' 1994/95 Cattle On Feed Evaluation, provided a snapshot of animal health and management that would serve as a baseline from which to measure industry changes in animal health and management. Completion of NAHMS' Feedlot '99 study now allows an assessment of change over time.
Among the findings: there was a substantial increase in the percentage of cattle that had a postmortem examination from 1994 (45.9 percent) to 1999 (53.9 percent). This increase was attributed primarily to necropsies by nonveterinarians.
For more information, contact the Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health, USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services, Attn: NAHMS, 555 S Howes, Fort Collins, CO 80521; e-mail, NAHMSweb@usda.gov; Web site, www.aphis.usda.gov.