Worldwide, early detection systems have been used in public health to aid the timely detection of increases in disease reporting that may be indicative of an outbreak. To date, their application to animal surveillance has been limited and statistical methods to analyse human health data have not been viewed as being applicable for animal health surveillance data. This issue was investigated by developing an early detection system for Salmonella disease in British livestock. We conclude that an early detection system, as for public health surveillance, can be an effective tool for enhanced surveillance. In order to implement this system in the future and extend it for other data types, we provide recommendations for improving the current data collection process. These recommendations will ensure that quality surveillance data are collected and used effectively to monitor disease in livestock populations.