Vets a trusted source for producers

doing surveillance

One-in-five livestock producers rely on their vet for information on farm management and advice.

A recent survey of producers confirmed that veterinarians across the country play an active role in advising livestock producers about on-farm biosecurity and general farm management issues.

The reminder for vets of their advisory role comes from data collected in the 2013 Farm Biosecurity producer survey which uncovered some interesting results about how producers get their information.

Animal Health Australia’s Executive Manager, Biosecurity, Duncan Rowland, said the survey revealed one in five producers go to their vet for information on general farm management advice or issues.

“The survey showed us that overall, 20 per cent of producers say they rely primarily on their vet for information about farm management or advice on general issues they might have. Other popular sources for information about farm management included agronomists, local departments of primary industries the internet and print media,” said Mr Rowland.

Mr Rowland said the results showed the need for vets to be armed with the right material when advising producers.

“More than half of all livestock producers surveyed identified vets as their key source of information for animal health and biosecurity related matters. Naturally, vets would be the first choice for matters about animal health, however, with many vets also providing information about biosecurity, it is important that they have the best and most up-to-date information and advice.

“That’s why all vets who deal with livestock animals should visit the Farm Biosecurity website where they can access a wealth of information about stopping diseases and pests coming on to the property.

“The Farm Biosecurity website is perfect for livestock vets. It has everything from videos on avoiding diseases, manuals with step-by-step guides on implementing biosecurity and a variety of helpful fact sheets.

“With the right information on-hand, vets can help producers stop animal diseases and pests in their tracks. As everyone knows, prevention is much better and cheaper than the cure,” said Mr Rowland.

The Farm Biosecurity producer survey was conducted in August and September 2013, by telephone, involving a total 1273 producers across the main producer groups of livestock, grains and crops.

The survey was designed so that results could be compared with similar results from the survey conducted in 2010.

This important data will help Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia to better target future activities delivered by the Farm Biosecurity Program.


Surviving an emergency disease outbreak

The documents have been published to help livestock producers survive an emergency disease outbreak.

The documents have been published to help livestock producers survive an emergency disease outbreak.

Two new documents have been published to help livestock producers survive an emergency disease outbreak.

The first document, Preparing your business to survive: Risk management planning for an emergency animal disease outbreak, is designed to assist livestock enterprises prepare a risk management plan for emergency animal disease (EAD) outbreaks. The manual helps producers by:

  • explaining what will occur during an EAD outbreak using foot-and-mouth disease as an example
  • outlining the main risks for your business
  • analysing how the risks relate to your business and evaluating which risks you should address
  • providing a list of possible actions you could undertake – either to prepare for, or to respond to, an outbreak
  • explaining the process for implementation, communication and review of your risk management plan


The second document, Preparing your business to survive an emergency animal disease outbreak: A 30-minute plan for grazing enterprisesis a planning tool to assist producers in developing an EAD survival plan. The plan outlines what to do if the property was infected with, or classified as ‘at-risk’ of, an EAD. It outlines four key steep in the planning process:

  • thinking about your business
  • understanding the risks
  • identifying actions to take
  • managing your obligations and responsibilities

This document outlines a plan that takes just 30 minutes to prepare. It could improve the resilience of your business if an EAD occurs. You may even discover some useful ideas for improving the every-day operation of your business. Just follow the four steps provided.

These documents were commissioned by the following Animal Health Australia member livestock industry bodies including:

  • Australian Dairy Farmers
  • Australian Lot Feeders Association
  • Australian Meat Industry Council
  • Australian Pork
  • Cattle Council of Australia
  • Federation of Australian Wool Growers
  • WoolProducers Australia

New wild dog action plan producers’ best friend


Wild dogs cost the Australian economy more than $60 million annually.

After 12 months of development and consultation, the National Wild Dog Action Plan will be officially launched by the Federal Minister for Agriculture, The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP, on the 4 July 2014 in Armidale.

Hailed as a significant achievement, the plan is a product of industry and government collaboration and aims to deliver and support safe, humane and effective wild dog management activities that are financially and environmentally viable.

The Minister acknowledged the efforts of WoolProducers Australia in developing the plan as an industry-driven initiative, calling it a “model for the management of other established agricultural pest animals and weeds”.

Animal Health Australia (AHA) played a key role in coordinating technical input about disease risks for the development of the plan and has also praised the collaborative approach taken to address the national issue of wild dogs in Australia.

It is estimated that wild dogs cost the Australian economy $48-60 million annually as a result of production losses, disease transmission in livestock and control costs.

Access the National Wild Dog Action Plan here.

For more information about the launch of the plan visit:

Australia leads the way at international paratuberculosis colloquium

ICP2014Delegates from more than 50 countries including Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, Canada, Spain and the UK shared their expertise and experience of national programs for the control or eradication of Johne’s disease (JD) at the 12th International Colloquium on Paratuberculosis (ICP) held in Parma, Italy last week.

Australia is seen as leaders in the research and control of Johne’s Disease and was well represented at the event, with staff from Animal Health Australia (AHA) and other key livestock industry groups joining more than 250 leading researchers, veterinarians and public health authorities at the five-day colloquium.

AHA’s Manager Endemic Diseases, Dr Lorna Citer, said the event revealed a number of interesting trends and initiatives when it came to the management of Johne’s disease, including a move to ranking systems for risk in dairy herds, the development of risk assessment apps and use of apps to record property animal health information.

“There is also an increasing number of European countries adopting control programs for paratuberculosis as a response to pressure from milk processors, with factories in the Netherlands and Norway only accepting milk from farms that have joined a control program,” Dr Citer explained.

Dr Citer added that many challenges and solutions were shared across many countries, including issues with engaging producers on potential food safety disease programs, the use of individual management and risk assessments as key ways of controlling the disease and a greater emphasis on the role of biosecurity.

AHA presented a series of seven posters outlining Australia’s efforts in preventing and managing livestock production conditions such as Johne’s disease. The AHA-produced posters were developed in consultation with industry and were on display for the duration of the event.

Download A4-sized pdfs of the posters below

Poster 1: Technical Validation of the Australian Johne’s Disease Market Assurance Program for Sheep

Poster 2: The Australian beef industry – Prevalence of bovine Johne’s disease and the impact of seedstock producers on its spread

Poster 3: Occurrence of sheep strain Johne’s disease in the Australian beef industry

Poster 4: The National Ovine Johne’s Disease Management Plan – 20 years on

Poster 5: A case study of a beef herd in Southern Australia managing endemic Johne’s disease with vaccination and herd risk stratification

Poster 6: The Australian National Johne’s Disease Control Program – sustaining the approach

Poster 7: Providing abattoir monitoring feedback as a catalyst for behavioral change amongst sheep producers

For more information about ICP 12 visit:

EA not horsing around with Hendra

EA_Hendra_horsesStrict new measures for Equestrian Australia (EA) certified events have been introduced under a new policy released by EA on Tuesday 1 July. The policy will require EA event organisers to complete a questionnaire during the event planning stages. The questionnaire will determine if the event requires classification as a ‘Hendra vaccinated event’.

Hendra classified events held in New South Wales and Queensland, which the EA by-law defines as the endemic region, will require all attending horses to be vaccinated against the Hendra virus.

Hendra classified events held in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT, which the EA by-law defines as the non-endemic region, will only require horses travelling from the endemic regions of NSW and QLD to be Hendra vaccinated.

AHA Executive Manager Biosecurity, Duncan Rowland said EA’s policy decision marks a major turning point in protecting horses and humans from the virus.

“The Hendra virus is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transferred from horses to humans and it originated in flying fox populations in north-eastern Australia,” Mr Rowland said.

“Although the transmission is rare, a number of cases of humans contracting the disease have been recorded with a 50 per cent fatality rate, highlighting how important it is to get on top of this disease. That’s why EA’s introduction of this new policy is timely, given the recent outbreaks in northern NSW.

“The virus is easily transmissible between horses and infected animals must be destroyed. Outbreaks can potentially cause significant financial losses, particularly for commercial equine operations. This is just another reason why the disease needs careful and considerate management.

“Competitors should familiarise themselves with EA’s new policy and its requirements and then head to the Farm Biosecurity horse industry page by visiting at and clicking on the livestock menu and selecting horses. Venue owners and operators should also visit this page and download the Horse Venue Biosecurity Workbook,” he added.

For full details on EA’s new policy visit

New pilot project provides holistic approach to endemic diseases

Photo: Phillip Down

Photo: Phillip Down

A pilot project aimed at reducing the financial impacts of endemic diseases and other production conditions on farm and supply chain productivity in Australia begins this month.

The Sheep Pilot Livestock Production Conditions Project (LPCP) has been developed by Animal Health Australia (AHA) together with sheep industry peak bodies in order to streamline governance costs, enhance collaboration and take a more holistic approach to addressing endemic conditions.

“The AHA-managed project will take a proactive approach to tackling sheep production issues, with greater emphasis on biosecurity and associated communication and extension activities,” AHA’s Executive Manager Biosecurity, Mr Duncan Rowland explained.

“It also aims to address the issues of lost production across the entire sheep value (supply) chain in order to mitigate animal welfare and market access risks. The project should ensure the value-add from animal health improvements is maximised at all stages of the sheep supply chain, from on-property to beyond the farm gate at the processor level.”

The pilot project will run from July 2014 – June 2015 and provides the framework for a nationally integrated approach to sheep production conditions. A draft LPCP business plan for the pilot project is currently with members awaiting endorsement.

The draft plan contains the proposed objectives of the LPCP which are:

•             To identify and fill gaps in work undertaken with, and by, research and development corporations across all sheep production conditions.

•             To increase the efficiency and consistency of management (i.e. biosecurity practices, research and development, communications) of national sheep production condition projects.

•             To provide a forum to involve all stakeholders in addressing sheep production condition issues.

LPCP is coordinated by AHA through the recently established sheep industries LPC Project Steering Committee comprising representatives from the Sheepmeat Council of Australia  and WoolProducers Australia, Meat & Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation, state governments, Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association, Australian Meat Industry Council and the Australian Veterinary Association.

For more information contact: AHA Biosecurity Officer Rob Barwell,

New AUSVETPLAN resource document available

New_Austvetplan_poultry_smAfter extensive consultation with our members and stakeholders, Animal Health Australia (AHA) has now published the new AUSVETPLAN resource document: Methods of destruction for poultry, zoo/pet birds and aviary species.

To be read in conjunction with the AUSVETPLAN Operational Procedures Manual – Destruction, the resource document provides information about appropriate and humane destruction methods of birds during the management of emergency animal disease (EAD) incidents.

With detailed explanations of the advantages and disadvantages of each method and appropriateness for a range of situations, the resource document covers key issues such as the welfare of animals, work health and safety requirements and technical skills including training and experience.

Methods of destruction for poultry, zoo/pet birds and aviary species is part of the comprehensive AUSVETPLAN series of manuals and resource documents which set out the various roles, responsibilities and policy guidelines for agencies and organisations involved in an EAD response.

Accessibility of the regularly reviewed and updated AUSTVETPLAN manuals and resource documents ensures the information and procedures needed to management an EAD incident in Australia is immediately available increasing the speed of a response.

Download the Methods of destruction for poultry, zoo/pet birds and aviary species (Destruction of birds) here.

Read more about AUSVETPLAN.

New app gives producers instant access to market information

MLAMarketinfoappMeat & Livestock Australia (MLA) has launched a new free mobile app that provides producers with the latest livestock market information where and when they need it most.

The MLA market information app allows users to read the latest market news, customise searches for local and global market reports and look up price and supply indicator graphs.

A key aim of the app is to enable cattle, sheep and goat producers to stay informed of news updates and market intelligence in an easy-to-use mobile format.

The app is now available to download free from the Apple iTunes App Store or Google Play. Simply search ‘MLA market information’.

Download the MLA market information app now using the links below

Download from the Apple iTunes App Store 

Download from Google Play

For more information about MLA Market information visit

Consultation closes for new NSW Biosecurity Framework

NSW Biosecurity FrameworkThe New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has conducted a series of consultations on its recently released Biosecurity Framework.

The draft framework outlines all future legislative tools and powers NSW DPI will use to improve management of biosecurity threats.

The framework will be used to form one single piece of legislation – the NSW Biosecurity Act – which will replace 14 currently existing pieces of legislation. The framework follows on from the NSW Biosecurity Strategy 2013-2021 which was released last May.

To view the framework, go to The consultation period closed on 27 June 2014.

AHA recognised for commitment to employee health

 WHS Officer Kim Percy and CEO Kathleen Plowman.

WHS Officer Kim Percy and CEO Kathleen Plowman.

Animal Health Australia’s (AHA) achievements in creating a healthier workplace were   acknowledged last week by the ACT Government’s new initiative Healthier Work, a free service established to help  ACT companies develop workplace-based health and wellbeing initiatives for staff.

With assistance from Healthier Work, AHA developed a 12-month plan focussing on social and emotional wellbeing, healthy eating and physical activity.


The creation of the plan has been recognised by the Healthier Work Recognition Scheme, which aims to acknowledge and reward an organisation’s commitment to improving workplace health and wellbeing.

AHA CEO Ms Kathleen Plowman and Workplace Health and Safety officer Kim Percy were recently presented with a certificate of recognition by Healthier Work for AHA’s commitment to workplace health and wellbeing.

“At AHA we believe that people are our greatest strength and implementing a plan to develop a healthier workplace environment is an important part of ensuring we fulfil our goal of always doing the very best for our staff,” Ms Plowman said.

AHA’s commitment to workplace health and wellbeing will be promoted by Healthier Work through advertisements in The Canberra Times, on the Healthier Work website and in their newsletter, through social media and a range of other promotional activities.

Healthier Work is a joint Australian, State and Territory Government initiative under the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health aimed at reducing the risk of chronic disease.

For more information about Healthier Work visit