Beef and dairy producers join forces to combat BJD

Some of the members of the Tasmanian Cattle Health Taskforce.

Some of the members of the Tasmanian Cattle Health Taskforce.

Representatives from across the Tasmanian beef and dairy industries have joined forces to form the Tasmanian Cattle Health taskforce.

The move has been prompted by a need to improve awareness and understanding of optimal cattle health, welfare and biosecurity practices.

One of the first actions of the Taskforce is strategising ways to increase producers’ awareness of management options to prevent the introduction and spread of Bovine Johne’s disease.

The Taskforce was established after Tasmanian Livestock Biosecurity Network (LBN) Regional Officer Dr Jess Coad invited industry representatives to workshop the impact of pests and diseases on Tasmanian cattle.

“Cattle pests and diseases can influence the health, welfare and productivity of infected animals, which can ultimately influence the sustainability and profitability of the industry.

This Taskforce will strategise ways they could be better controlled, and possibly eradicated, through targeted cattle health management and on-farm biosecurity practices,” Dr Coad explains.

The Taskforce members represent beef and dairy producers, abattoirs, milk processing companies, veterinarians, government, advocacy bodies, livestock agents, and livestock health, welfare and biosecurity extension programs.

“Importantly, Taskforce members have on the ground experience, and are able to identify where industry knowledge is lacking, and are able to strategise ways those gaps can be filled,” she concludes.

The inaugural chair of the Taskforce is Dr Craig Dwyer, of Smithton Veterinary Service – a past committee member of the Tasmanian division of the Australia Veterinary Association and state representative for the Australian Cattle Vets.

If you would like to find out more about the Cattle Health Taskforce, or become a member, please contact Craig Dwyer or Jess Coad on 0429 696 667 or 0488 400 209

AHA takes the lead in national RD&E

AHA0353_Animal_Biosecurity_CoverAnimal Health Australia (AHA) is moving ahead in its lead role in implementing the.National Animal Biosecurity Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) Strategy.

One of the latest steps was the appointment of Annette Brown, who is providing administration, coordination and support to stakeholders in implementing the strategy.

The strategy is sponsored by the Australian Egg Corporation on behalf of the RDC’s and NSW Department of Primary Industries for the state and territory governments.

It is one of eight cross-sectoral strategies under the National Primary Industries RD&E Framework, and also links with national biosecurity RD&E requirements listed under Schedule 8 of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB).

As part of this venture, AHA is responsible for brokering partnerships among animal biosecurity RD&E funders, providers and end users to enable more strategic, coordinated and collaborative research that meets national biosecurity priorities and addresses future capability gaps and needs.

AHA has worked with stakeholders – including nine animal-based research and development corporations (RDCs), universities with veterinary faculties, the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), state and territory governments, Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) and the Australian Government, to develop the strategy,. It was endorsed by the Agriculture Senior Officials Committee (AgSOC) in late 2013 and published in June 2014.

For more information:

Annette Brown

Biosecurity RD&E Coordinator

Animal Health Australia

P: 02 6203 3943


AHA’s new look Annual Report now available

AHA AR 2013-2014_CoverOn the outside AHA’s Annual Report 2013–14 looks deceptively similar to last year’s publication, but don’t judge a book by its cover.

This year’s report has been revamped to make it easier for Members to find summaries of AHA’s projects, program deliverables and outcomes, company activities and financial performance during 2013–14.

It is made up of five main sections:

  • Year in review reflecting AHA’s key highlights during 2013–14
  • About us with introductory reports by the AHA Chair and CEO as well as information about staff and the AHA board and project management. This includes summaries of the successes, highlights, program deliverables and outcomes of each of AHA’s key program areas (Biosecurity, EAD Preparedness and Response, Market Access Support and Corporate and Member Services)
  • A new section dedicated to AHA’s Communications activities during the reporting period
  • Corporate Governance
  • Financial statements including program expenditure for 2013 – 14

The AHA Annual Report 2013–14 is now available in an accessible pdf format on the website, making it easily available to everyone.

Copies of the report were posted out to Members last week and were printed on recycled paper stock ‘Revive Laser’– sales of which support Landcare Australia.

To request additional hard copies of the Annual Report 2013–14, please contact AHA’s Publications Coordinator Kat Crichton on 02 6203 3937 or email

AHA wins public relations state award

AHA Communication Manager Lisa Borthwick with AHA Communication Coordinator Harley McNarmara.

AHA Communication Manager Lisa Borthwick with AHA Communication Coordinator Harley McNarmara.

Animal Health Australia (AHA) has been named the ACT state winner in the annual Public Relations Institute of Australia’s (PRIA) Golden Target Awards for 2014.

The award was won by AHA’s communications team for increasing biosecurity awareness at the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) biennial BeefWorks national conference last year – which was for the first time held at a remote feedlot at Jondaryan, near Toowoomba in south-east Queensland.

“This unique venue provided the AHA team with an opportunity to not just tell more than 450 conference participants about how easy it is to implement on-farm biosecurity, but we could also show them,” said Lisa Borthwick, AHA Communication Manager.

“Our primary objectives and key outcomes were firmly aimed at increasing awareness about the Farm Biosecurity Program and the information and tools available to all producers on the Farm Biosecurity website. However, our main challenge was to devise simple, yet effective activities we could deliver that would demonstrate good biosecurity practices.”

The resulting creative communication strategy and implementation plan – aided by financial support from ALFA to assist in the delivery – was what contributed to the entry winning the award.

“We broke our tactical approach into manageable parts – but broadly we aimed to introduce all participants to the biosecurity message on arrival at the feedlot, repeat the message and introduce another activity at the registration point inside the property, provide collateral through an information booth and be part of the official proceedings by asking the ALFA president to officially launch the National Biosecurity Manual for Beef Cattle Feedlots,” Ms Borthwick said.

“We largely won the award for our innovation, but we were also able to show the impact of our work through a thorough evaluation.”

That evaluation showed that in addition to directly exposing around 450 people to the biosecurity message over the two-day conference, an additional 150 biosecurity manuals were distributed on the spot and visits to the Farm Biosecurity website had an eight-fold increase in visitors to the lot feeding pages in the three weeks following the event.

The award was presented to the AHA BeefWorks event team leader Harley McNamara – who delivered the acceptance speech – and Ms Borthwick at a special PRIA event in Sydney last week. The third member of the BeefWorks team, Jude Nettleingham, AHA’s Learning and Development Coordinator was unable to attend due to work commitments.

As state award winners, AHA now automatically enters the PRIA National Golden Target Award pool. The national winners will be announced at the PRIA national conference and AGM to be held in Brisbane later this month.

Updated AUSVETPLAN resources

Photo: Livestock Industries

Photo: Livestock Industries

Following consultation and endorsement by industry and government, Animal Health Australia (AHA) has published updated versions of the AUSVETPLAN Enterprise Manual: Zoos, and AUSVETPLAN Disease Strategy: African swine fever.

Zoo Enterprise Manual

The recently revised AUSVETPLAN Enterprise Manual: Zoos is aimed at both government officers and zoo industry personnel who may be involved in emergency animal disease (EAD) preparedness. For government personnel, including those not familiar with the industry, the manual brings together operational guidelines, plans of action and other resources for dealing with EADs and gives an important overview of the zoo industry.

For industry personnel, including owners or managers, the manual provides guidelines on their responsibilities during an EAD outbreak, and strategies that may be adopted to improve preparedness for, or to handle, a suspected EAD.

Publication of this manual follows widespread consultation within the zoo industry and with government.

Enterprise manuals, a component of the Australian Veterinary Emergency Plan (AUSVETPLAN), are prepared for animal industries in which the risk of harm from an EAD is expected to be higher than normal. Although zoos are not considered risk enterprises to other premises and are unlikely to affect the nature of an outbreak, zoos need to consider EAD preparedness for their own facilities.

African swine fever Disease Strategy

An integral part of AUSVETPLAN, this disease strategy sets out the updated and approved starting policy and guidelines for agencies and organisations involved in a response to an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in Australia. It also provides advice on quarantine and movement controls that will apply during an outbreak.

ASF is listed in the Government and Livestock Industry Cost Sharing Deed in Respect of Emergency Animal Disease Responses (EADRA).

AUSVETPLAN is a series of technical response plans that describe the proposed Australian approach to an exotic animal disease incursion. AHA manages the continued improvement of AUSTVETPLAN on behalf of our government and industry members.

Access the latest manuals and supporting documents on the AHA website.


Short films with a long-lasting biosecurity message

FarmbiosecurityTwo short videos to help producers reduce the potential risks of diseases, pests and weeds coming onto or leaving their farm have been added to the Farm Biosecurity Program website.

Videos are one of the tools used by the program to generate awareness about good on-farm biosecurity practices. These are the third and fourth instalments as part of an on-going video project, which will eventually see videos produced for each of the six biosecurity ‘essentials’ producers need to know about.

The latest videos cover the biosecurity essentials ‘farm inputs’ and ‘farm outputs’. They highlight the many biosecurity risks that exist when anything enters or leaves the property and illustrate the actions that can be taken to reduce these risks.

Duncan Rowland, Animal Health Australia’s (AHA) Manager Biosecurity Services, said the videos include practical advice, tips and interviews with real-life farmers, demonstrating the biosecurity measures they implement on their properties.

“These videos show risks around common farm inputs and outputs, such as introducing new stock and plant material, or disposing of plant and animal waste material. They also demonstrate the actions which can be taken to manage the risks: keep feed in a dry and secure storage area, quarantine new stock and complete all required animal health statements to help if the need to trace stock arises,” he said.

Alison Saunders, Plant Health Australia’s (PHA) Manager for Biosecurity Planning and Implementation, said the videos show simple steps that farmers can take to improve their biosecurity within their day-to-day operations.

“Taking up good biosecurity practice should be straight forward and I think there is a message here for anyone who wants to improve this important aspect of their business,” she said.

The information, interviews and visual demonstrations in the videos are applicable to all agricultural industries.

“These videos have something for anyone looking to improve biosecurity practice on their farms. Both plant and animal biosecurity risks and actions are covered. That’s what the Farm Biosecurity Program is all about: providing up-to-date, relevant information for all Australian producers,” Ms Saunders said.

The Farm Biosecurity Program is a joint initiative of AHA and PHA managed on behalf of members.

To view the videos go to

Updated biosecurity guidelines now available

RAMAnimal Health Australia (AHA) has recently published updated guidelines for participation in the National Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Surveillance Program (NTSESP) and compliance in the Australian Ruminant Feed Ban.

The National Guidelines for Field Operations provides private and public sector field veterinarians and laboratory workers with the information they need to participate in Australia’s national surveillance program for animal transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

TSEs are a group of diseases that affect the brain and nervous system of animals, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.

The guidelines also outline the clinical signs and transmission methods of TSEs such as BSE and scrapie. They also contain information on which animals are eligible to be tested as well as a comprehensive set of instructions on how to obtain samples.

Currently Australia is free from BSE and other TSEs such as scrapie. A key way to ensure this remains is through the enforcement of the Australian Ruminant Feed Ban, which prohibits the feeding of restricted animal material (RAM) to ruminants.

Enforcement of the ban better ensures that if the disease agent causing BSE was ever inadvertently introduced to Australia it would not be able to establish a cycle of infection.

RAM is any material taken from a vertebrate animal, other than gelatin, milk products, oils extracted from fish, treated tallow or treated cooking oil. It includes rendered products such as blood meal, meat meal, meat and bone meal, fish meal, poultry meal and feather meal, and compounded feeds made from these products.

The Australian Ruminant Feed Ban National Uniform Guidelines forms the basis for each state and territory to participate in a nationally consistent, risk-based compliance inspection program (including some feed testing).

A uniform national approach to compliance inspection, supported by the latest laboratory techniques for detecting RAM protein in ruminant feeds/precursor components, provides the greatest assurance of compliance with regulatory controls and affords the greatest opportunity to meet national and international requirements.

Designed for use by government staff and QA auditors, these comprehensive guidelines also provide a detailed history and objectives of Australia’s ruminant feed ban.

AHA together with SAFEMEAT has also published information for stockfeed manufacturers, sellers of stock food and livestock producers to help ensure they comply with the feed ban.

These can be accessed from the TSE Freedom Assurance Program webpage.

Unvaccinated pigeons risk euthanasia

Photo: John Manger

Photo: John Manger

Biosecurity Tasmania has seized a consignment of unvaccinated pigeons at the Tasmanian border – providing a timely reminder about vaccinating pigeons.

Avian paramyxovirus (APMV1) is understood to be still active on mainland Australia, therefore it’s still a requirement that all pigeons coming into Tasmania be vaccinated against APMV1. This includes racing pigeons brought into Tasmania for release for flight back to the mainland.

The import requirement for vaccination means that unvaccinated pigeons arriving at the Tasmanian border will be seized and either sent back to the mainland (at the importer’s expense) or euthanased. There are also penalties (fines or prosecution) under the Animal Health Act 1995 for importing birds without any certification.

The vaccination requirement was introduced in 2013, as part of a range of measures to prevent APMV1 establishing in Tasmania, while allowing reasonable movement of birds.

The APVM1 vaccine involves two shots four weeks apart, as well as an annual booster. Pigeon owners who vaccinated their birds in 2013 should soon be administering the annual booster (if they have not already done so).

If you are thinking about bringing pigeons into Tasmania, please ensure they (and the birds already in your loft) are up-to-date with vaccinations – including annual boosters.

For more information visit the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment website.

Program celebrates 10 years helping Bovine Johne’s disease affected farmers

(L-R) Campbell Trotter and David Allan receive their 10 year service awards from the National BJD Financial and Non-financial Assistance Package Chair Nick Keatinge.

(L-R) Campbell Trotter and David Allan receive their 10 year service awards from the National BJD Financial and Non-financial Assistance Package Chair Nick Keatinge.

More than 440 cattle producers have sought assistance through the Cattle Council of Australia’s (CCA) National BJD Financial and Non-Financial Assistance Package for help in managing the devastating social, economic and trade impacts of Bovine Johne’s Disease (BJD).

Last month, the Assistance Package, managed by Animal Health Australia (AHA) on behalf of CCA, celebrated its 10-year anniversary.

The internationally recognised Assistance Package is a unique program that provides non-financial counselling support, advice and financial assistance to manage the disease and help mitigate the impacts.

When called on for help by producers, BJD Counsellors conduct a situation assessment, assist with management and trading options, develop a disease-management plan and liaise with the supervising veterinarian on-behalf of the affected producer.

Where applicable, affected producers can also apply for funding to assist with implementing an Enhanced Property Disease Management Plan and other measures such as testing and stock slaughter to tackle the disease head on.

The two BJD Counsellors, David Allan and Campbell Trotter, were recognised for their dedicated service on 15 September. David and Campbell have been with the program since its inception.

AHA’s Project Officer, Livestock Welfare and Endemic Disease, Kelly Wall said the BJD Counsellors are often called upon to address the devastating effects of BJD.

“David and Campbell have provided support to BJD-affected cattle farmers all over Australia. They adopt a professional client-focused approach, based on empathy and good communication. David and Campbell understand the disease. They have a solid appreciation of the trade, economic and emotional impacts and are excellent at helping affected producers negotiate the regulations at the herd, regional and national levels,” Ms Wall said.

For more information visit AHA’s information page on the National BJD Financial and Non-financial Assistance Package.

Animal Health Australia key meeting dates

AHA uses its unique and valuable position to build collaborative partnerships with industries, governments and individual producers in order to help safeguard local and international confidence in Australia’s animal health systems and livestock products and facilitate market access.

AHA regularly holds meetings to inform and engage Members and stakeholders involved in Australia’s animal health industry. See below for a selection of AHA’s upcoming meetings and forums.


AHA dates for your diary*

Tuesday 25 Nov 1pm – 5pm AHA/PHA Joint Industry Forum  CSIRO Discovery Centre
Tuesday 25 Nov  6pm – 8pm Member Dinner Crowne Plaza Canberra
Wednesday 26 Nov 9am – 11am AHA Annual General Meeting  Crowne Plaza Canberra
Wednesday 26 Nov 11.30am – 5pm AHA Members’ Forum – Strategic Plan and AOP 2015/16 Estimates  Crowne Plaza Canberra


For more information contact:

Tara McDonough

Executive Support Officer

Animal Health Australia


Ph: (02) 6203 3921 / Mobile:  0413 687 757