Public consultation opens for new Saleyard Welfare Standards

Photo: Kerri-Ann French

Photo: Kerri-Ann French

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries Victoria (DEPI) has opened consultation for the proposed Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Livestock at Saleyards and Depots (Saleyard Welfare Standards) and associated Regulation Impact Statement (RIS).

Interested parties are invited to comment about how the proposed standards will ensure the welfare of livestock at saleyards and if the associated RIS demonstrates the need for the Saleyard Welfare Standards.

The consultation period and submissions on the proposed Saleyard Welfare Standards and RIS must be received by Friday 12 December 2014.

A copy of the proposed Saleyard Welfare Standards, RIS and related documents can be found at:

Questions about submissions can be emailed to Dr David Champness, Project Manager, Saleyard Welfare Standards, Principal Veterinary Officer, Biosecurity Division, DEPI at:

Spring into action with your biosecurity planning

SpringlambsWith the arrival of spring, livestock producers are reminded to have their biosecurity plans in place as many pests, diseases and weeds attempt to make a comeback after the winter lull.

Animal Health Australia’s Executive Manager Biosecurity, Duncan Rowland said increased monitoring of stock, crops and pastures is an important biosecurity practise to implement this Spring.

“Spring time, particularly for the country’s southern production regions, means warmer weather, longer days and hopefully, some wet weather. However, this combination means pastures can be inundated with weeds that can harm livestock,” Mr Rowland said.

“Grazing pastures need to be monitored closely for outbreaks of poisonous and invasive weeds. During Spring make an effort to undertake additional inspections on your property to track and manage the spread of weeds. Producers should also consider developing a weed management plan and coordinating eradication or prevention programs with their neighbours.

“Warmer temperatures, combined with moist conditions can also encourage the spread of diseases like footrot. Increased monitoring of stock is vital in identifying early signs of disease and producers should not delay investigating and reporting signs of disease in their stock.”

Spring also keeps many sheep, cattle and goat producers busy with lambing, calving and kid rearing. Mr Rowland said there were a number of biosecurity measures that can help prevent diseases and losses in new born stock during this critical time of year.

“Cattle, sheep and goat producers should familiarise themselves with the risks of Johne’s disease infection in calves, lambs and kids,” he said.

“Goat producers can download the National Kid Rearing Plan from the goat industry page on the Farm Biosecurity website for information on mimimising Johne’s disease and caprine arthritis encephalitis.

“Dairy producers can download the Dairy Australia 3 Step Calf Plan on the Dairy Australia website. This plan guides producers on steps to minimise the risk of bovine Johne’s disease infections in newly born calves.”

Mr Rowland also reminds producers that there is heightened risk of stock losses through predation from wild and feral animals when new born animals arrive at the property.

“Importantly, with all new born stock on the property, producers should ensure steps are taken to minimise attacks from wild dogs, foxes and other predators,” he said.

“Producers are encouraged to develop a wild and feral animal control program, regularly check and mend broken fences, promptly dispose of any carcases lying around on the property and develop a coordinated approach with your neighbours to control ferals and wild animals in your area.”

New bovine Johne’s disease resource for cattle producers


Photo: Sharon Lohse

Cattle producers now have a new tool to help avoid and control bovine Johne’s disease (BJD) on their properties with Animal Health Australia’s (AHA) comprehensive suite of BJD pages on the AHA website.

These new webpages provide the latest, up-to-date information on the disease and are also useful for vets, stock agents, agriculture shows, breed associations or anyone associated with the dairy and beef cattle industries.

The webpages include:

• important information about Australia’s BJD strategic plan

• contact information for producers seeking further assistance

• BJD related documents for further reading

• recommended biosecurity practices to avoid the disease

• testing and diagnosis information.

BJD is an incurable infection of cattle and like ovine Johne’s disease, it is caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium paratuberculosis) that lives primarily in the intestines of infected animals. It causes the intestinal wall to thicken and reduces the normal absorption of nutrients from grazing. Symptoms include wasting and chronic diarrhoea. BJD results in lost production and causes infected animals to starve to death.

Cattle infected with BJD can often take months or even years before showing clinical signs and with the right conditions the bacteria can survive for long periods in the environment. These two factors are another reason why the disease can spread easily with little warning.

The Farm Biosecurity website also has a handy set of fact sheets about BJD in beef cattle that can be downloaded from the beef cattle industry page – simply scroll down to the resources section.

New aquatic project manager at AHA

Dr Jane Frances will manage AHA's new aquatic animal disease arrangements project.

Ms Jane Frances will manage AHA’s new aquatic animal disease arrangements project.

AHA members are waiting with ‘baited’ breath for the start of a new project dedicated to the development of formal industry-government aquatic animal disease response arrangements.

While Australia has long-standing joint industry–government arrangements in place for responses to livestock emergency diseases and emergency plant pests and diseases, until now, there’s been nothing formally in place for responding to emergency disease outbreaks in aquatic animals.

“Aquatic animal industries as well as governments have long recognised this as a significant gap in our national preparedness and response ‘tackle box’,” Dr Eva-Maria Bernoth, AHA’s Executive Manager EAD Preparedness and Response explained.

“We are extremely pleased that the Australian Government Department of Agriculture has provided us with funding for four years to help fill this gap”, Dr Bernoth said.

Spearheading the new project will be Ms Jane Frances from Biosecurity NSW, who has worked with aquatic industries since 1988 and in biosecurity roles since 2004.

During that time, Ms Frances has had hands-on involvement in emergency management including responses to a number of aquatic pest and disease incursions such as the NSW response to an outbreak of the oyster herpes virus.

No newcomer to the development of national arrangements, she was also the NSW representative on the Emergency Aquatic Animal Disease Response Arrangements Working Group and has been involved in discussions on the merits and challenges presented by developing cost-sharing arrangements for aquatic industries.

“We are extremely fortunate that Ms Frances will work with us and we are very grateful that Biosecurity NSW is making her available,” Dr Bernoth said.

“NSW has always been a strong protagonist for developing formal arrangements, and we at AHA, the aquatic team in the Department of Agriculture, and most of all Ms Frances herself are all eager to get work underway.”

Queanbeyan hosts hypothetical foot-and-mouth outbreak


Police, roads, emergency services, agricultural agencies, the RSPCA and about 100 cows were involved in the livestock standstill exercise.

A saleyard in Queanbeyan NSW last week was the scene of the latest Exercise Odysseus activity to enhance government and industry’s ability to respond if an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) was to occur in Australia.

Staff from federal and state government biosecurity agencies, major livestock industries and other organisations including AHA members took part in Tuesday’s training exercise, just over the border from the Nation’s Capital.

The Queanbeyan exercise was just one of a series of simulated activities undertaken during the past 12 months to enhance Australia’s preparedness for, and implementation of, a national livestock standstill in response to an outbreak of FMD.

Stephen Hughes, Senior Manager, Biosecurity for Territory and Municipal Services said learnings from the exercise will help the ACT Government develop its emergency animal disease preparedness so it can quickly enforce a livestock standstill if needed and deal with the logistical challenges this would create.

“In the event of a FMD outbreak, we would not have time to review our response plans before taking action,” Mr Hughes explained.

“Decisions need to be made fast and appropriate actions taken quickly as the earlier the disease can be contained the better chance we have to reduce the impact on Australia’s ability to access exports markets including the wool, meat product and dairy industries.

“It is one thing to have plans in place, but it is vital to ensure the implementation of procedures is well rehearsed. This exercise has provided the practice that government and its industry partners need.”

Visit for more information about Exercise Odysseus

Recent advances in Emergency Animal Diseases (EAD) Annual Symposium

Photo: CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory.

Photo: CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory.

Innovations and challenges in EAD surveillance, diagnostics and management of new diseases will be just some of the topics covered at the inaugural EAD Symposium to be held at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory’s (AAHL) Geelong facility on 5 – 6 November 2014.

The two-day symposium, organised by CSIRO in association with the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Animal Health Australia (AHA) will bring together veterinary practitioners, animal health managers, diagnosticians and livestock industry representatives, to learn about and discuss issues regarding the recognition and management of EADs in Australia.

Staff from AAHL, AHA, the Department of Agriculture and the University of Melbourne will present on a number of topics and will also provide refresher training in EAD preparedness for veterinary practitioners including appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and correct packaging options. Participants will also learn about AAHL’s role in EAD diagnosis.

For more information about the event, which is eligible for 11 Australian Veterinary Association VetEd points, click here or register online now to secure your spot.

New and updated EADRA guidance documents now available

A range of updated and new EADRA guidance documents are now available.

A range of updated and new EADRA guidance documents are now available.

After consultation with Parties to the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA), AHA has published a new document to achieve clarity and a common understanding of how ‘compensation’ and ‘cost sharing’ are used in the EADRA.

The EADRA Guidance Document – Interpretation of Compensation and Cost Sharing in the EADRA is provided to Parties to the EADRA as an agreed interpretation of the meaning and intent of the terms ‘compensation’ and ‘cost sharing’ in connection with the EADRA and their use in the control of an emergency animal disease.

AHA has also published the updated EADRA Guidance Document: Normal Commitments for Parties to the EADRA.

To be implemented as a guideline for decision-making in the case of a cost-shared response, the document determines the existing and required resource commitments. It also  defines what costs a state/territory or industry body considers to be ‘normal’ (business as usual) and what should be cost-shared.

These EADRA guidance documents, as well as a range of other documents, including a guide to developing an EAD response plan, are available on the AHA website.

For any questions about the EADRA or for more information, download the EADRA FAQs.


Developing the next generation of agricultural leaders

The Sustainable Agriculture Conference and Careers Expo will be held in Grenfell on 10 September.

The Sustainable Agriculture Conference and Careers Expo will be held in Grenfell on 10 September.

Industry professionals from the agricultural sector are invited to take part in the Kids Teaching Kids (KTK) Sustainable Agriculture Conference and Careers Expo in Grenfell on Wednesday 10th September.

The expo will introduce students to the broad range of agricultural and environmental career and study options available to them. It is also the first time high school students from the Central West region have been involved in a KTK event.

Industry and agricultural representatives interested in exhibiting can bring any banners, information or products associated with their sector to be displayed and distributed at the event. Students will also have an opportunity to ask the representatives questions about associated topics/careers to discover the many career possibilities available in the agricultural industry.

Running alongside the Careers Expo will be the Sustainable Agriculture conference. Throughout the day students will present on a range of agricultural and environmental topics relevant to their local area. In many cases, students have been working with industry professionals to research and learn about their chosen topic.

KTK conferences are unique in that teachers take on a back seat mentoring role, with the students delivering workshop sessions to their peers. The KTK Learning Model and Program aims to inspire future environmental leaders and assists students to develop skills in communication, teamwork, research and community involvement.

For more information about the KTK program, visit or RSVP now to secure your spot by downloading the registration form. Alternatively RSVP to Liz Davis (Central Tablelands LLS) via email (0427 452 662) or (0429 982 197).


August a big month for Exercise Odysseus

Industry and government come together at NMG exercise. Photo: Department of Agriculture.

Industry and government come together at NMG exercise. Photo: Department of Agriculture.

A number of Exercise Odysseus activities were held in Canberra late last month as part of the national livestock standstill exercise program to enhance government and industry preparedness in response to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

The National Emergency Animal Diseases Management Group (NMG) exercise was held on 19 August with the aim to practise decision-making and to explore financial, policy and other issues pertinent to NMG’s role in deciding whether or not to declare a national livestock standstill.

AHA’s Coordinator Learning and Development, Jude Nettleingham who attended the event, said while government MNG members meet regularly, this was the first opportunity for many livestock industry representatives to practise their roles.

“An FMD outbreak would present unique challenges for NMG due to the urgency required to make decisions with incomplete information. Even so, timely decisions would be essential in order to facilitate the application of cost sharing and the rapid implementation of the national response,” Ms Nettleingham explained.

“Very few NMG representatives at the exercise would have had the experience of participating in NMG under these circumstances,” she said.

NMG is the national decision making body for responding to emergency pest and disease outbreaks. It is chaired by the Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and comprises senior executive officers from all state and territory agricultural departments, relevant industry parties and a representative from AHA. All parties must be signatories to the EADRA in order to take part in the decision making processes of both CCEAD and NMG.

All EADRA signatories and AHA members were invited to attend the exercise.

Exercise Odysseus – NFF Livestock Members Activity

Another key Exercise Odysseus activity last month was held by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) Biosecurity Task Force (livestock members) on 20 August.

During the exercise, participants were encouraged to share their current livestock industry emergency response plans and discuss any opportunities for either developing or refining them with for use in an emergency animal disease such as FMD.

Other key objectives of the exercise were:

  • raise awareness of national livestock standstill arrangements for responding to an outbreak of FMD
  • raise awareness of contemporary (‘best practice’) approach to emergency response plan design
  • provide NFF livestock members with an opportunity to share their emergency response plans and identify any opportunities for improvement, by comparison to the model approach provided
  • determine NFF’s role in a national livestock standstill and to agree to the development of an response plan and timetable for drafting a plan.

AHA staff attended and the exercise, held at Australian Pork Limited’s offices in Canberra on 20 August, which was facilitated by former deputy CEO of AHA Ian Denney.

For more information about Exercise Odysseus visit


Nominations now open for Ralph Hood Award

AHA Board Chairman Peter Milne presents the 2013 Ralph Hood Award to Dr Simon Fireston

AHA Board Chairman Peter Milne presents the 2013 Ralph Hood Award to Dr Simon Firestone

Animal Health Australia (AHA) is looking for passionate, committed people working in the field of animal health to apply for the 2014 Ralph Hood Award of a $15,000 grant for professional development.

Open to all of our members, service providers and associate members, the award acknowledges people with leadership potential and a strong commitment in their organisation or field to improve animal health in Australia.

Last year’s winner is Dr Simon Firestone, a lecturer in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Melbourne. Dr Firestone is coordinating the University’s new Master of Veterinary Public Health (Emergency Animal Diseases) program, which will be producing its first graduates in 2015. In addition, he is also developing a productive research program focused on epidemiology and veterinary public health including avian influenza planning and preparedness, an evaluation of Australia’s national system of zoonosis surveillance and epidemiological analyses and reporting on human notifiable disease surveillance.

The Ralph Hood Award offers considerable flexibility regarding the type of professional development activity that the winner could fund with the prize-money, however it is not intended to be utilised as a substitute for other sources of research funding.

Some suggested uses for the prize-money include a contribution towards continuing education such as a master’s degree, attendance at an international conference, a national or international study tour, or as financial support for work experience, secondment or internship to work with a recognised expert or a relevant national/international organisation such as the World Organisation for Animal Health, World Health Organisation or other peak industry body.

The AHA Board will be reviewing applications for their relevance to the Australian animal health system, but applicants are encouraged to be creative and entrepreneurial in their approach as the award aims to foster innovation as well as leadership.

Full details of the award, which is named after former AHA CEO Ralph Hood, who passed away in February 2010, are available at or download the brochure here.

Entries opened on Friday 22 August and close 31 September. The winner will be announced at the AHA Members’ Forum in Canberra on 26 November.