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10Apr

Seven on-farm biosecurity intervention points

Words and Images Supplied by Beef and Lamb NZ

  1. Livestock movements,
  2. Animal health management
  3. People and equipment
  4. Feed and water
  5. Pest control
  6. Animal waste and carcase management
  7. Shared knowledge and understanding                                                                                                                                   

Biosecurity is a key challenge facing the farming sector but the adoption of simple management practices can go a long way towards helping farmers protect their businesses.

Several of management practices are outlined and discussed in a Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) podcast featuring Will Halliday, Senior Advisor for Biosecurity and Animal Welfare with B+LNZ.

In the podcast, Halliday talks about the seven on-farm intervention points, these being livestock movements, animal health management, people and equipment, feed and water, pest control, animal waste and carcase management and shared knowledge and understanding.

He says biosecurity is a lot more about M.bovis and Foot and Mouth.  It is also about protecting the farm from common diseases such as BVD, drench resistance, facial eczema, weeds such as velvetleaf and Chilean needlegrass and the myriad of pests that can cause production losses.

Good biosecurity means getting everyone working on or visiting the farm involved in biosecurity practices which are more than simply a box-ticking exercise. It’s about incorporating biosecurity into everyday farm management.

Halliday says the one practice that farmers can adopt immediately is to buy two fish-bins, scrubbing brushes and disinfectant (such as Virkon) and place one at the woolshed and one at cattle yards and encourage people to scrub their boots before and after going onto the farm.

Mud can transmit diseases such as Johnes, so it should be standard practice to hose down vehicles before and after visiting other farms.

 Farm service providers and visitors should be given a designated place to park on the farm, preferably well away from livestock.

Halliday says there is a big difference between cleaning and disinfecting and it is not possible to disinfect mud. Clothing and equipment should be cleaned before disinfectant is used.

There are a number of diseases carried by livestock that can affect humans. These include leptospirosis and salmonella which can be debilitating.  Washing hands with hot soapy water before and after handling livestock or dirty equipment is a simple but effective way to protect against these diseases.

When buying livestock, Halliday encourages farmers to do their homework and find out where the animals have come from and their animal health history.

“Ask whether they have been vaccinated, if they are Facial Eczema tolerant and what animal health treatments they have received.

“This will give you a picture of what diseases you could be potentially bringing onto your farm.”

 Upon arrival, animals should be kept in a quarantine area for between seven and 14 days. This gives time for animal health treatments to be administered and illnesses to become apparent. Quarantine areas should be fallowed between uses. 

All cattle and deer movements should be recorded through NAIT and sheep should be accompanied by their Animal Status Declaration forms.

Within farms, paper or electronic records of mob movements can be invaluable in an incursion as it can show that one mob has had no contact with another.

 Halliday says farmers should work with their vet to develop a structured animal health plan around standard animal health treatments and procedures. If there are animal health problems that vet should be the first person contacted but where there is serious concern about a disease, weed or pest, the Ministry for Primary Industries should be contacted on 0800 809966.

Feed and water can be a source of contamination. Water can carry mucus, faeces and dead animals and washed-out flood gates can provide access for the neighbour’s livestock or wild animals.

“While water is a low risk it’s still a risk and is another reason to be fencing off waterways.”

To minimise the risk with bought-in feed, farmers should be asking questions about where it was grown, what weeds were in the paddock and if possible, visit the paddock.

Pests such as possums, mice, rats and deer are all vectors for diseases such as TB or leptospirosis. Halliday encourages farmers to keep pest populations down by poisoning, trapping or shooting.

Most importantly, Halliday says farmers need to stay alert to anything on their farm that is out of the ordinary. Early identification of any weed, pest or disease is critical for its control and farmers should not hesitate to contact MPI if they have any concerns.

The Foot and Mouth outbreak in the UK in 2000 was a lesson as 60 farms were affected by the time authorities were alerted.   

REMEMBER: If you have any concerns about a weed, a pest or a disease on your farm, call MPI on 0800 809966.

About the Author

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