World-class technology launched in fight against biosecurity risks

The new system reduces many time consuming manual processes.

The new system reduces many time consuming manual processes.

A state-of-the-art Biosecurity Information Management System (BIS) worth over $9.8m has been launched as part of the NSW Government Agriculture Industry Action Plan.

The cloud-based system gives the department greater capacity to report, diagnose and manage emergency events and was deployed in the field for the first time in a recent response to the red imported fire ant detection in Sydney.

It was developed to enhance the State’s capacity to deal with biosecurity threats and emergencies. It geospatially tracks surveillance teams, minimises duplication and data entry time, and has been particularly valuable for mapping the extensive surveillance carried out following the red fire ant detection.

The new tool allows surveillance teams to log in to the system and submit crucial, real-time data, including photos, so staff in labs and control centres can be continually informed updated on the response and deploy additional resources where required.

Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson said the system has exceeded expectations and while it is being used successfully in daily operations by the Department of Primary Industries, its full potential and benefits are realised during an emergency response.

NSW Department of Primary Industries has released a video showcasing the new biosecurity system.


The benefits of a healthier workplace

AHA features in the Healthier Work book of case studies.

AHA features in the Healthier Work book of case studies.

Animal Health Australia (AHA) has been featured in WorkSafe ACT’s Healthier Work book of case studies highlighting Canberra businesses who have become Healthier Work Recognised.

The publication was launched by Minister Mick Gentleman MLA at a Healthier Work networking breakfast attended by AHA staff and members of Canberra’s business community on Thursday 12 February.

AHA, in collaboration with Healthier Work, developed a 12-month health and wellbeing plan for staff and AHA has been formally recognised for putting these ideas into practice.

Initiatives AHA has introduced for staff include weekly lunchtime walks and flexible hours to enable staff to go to the gym or yoga classes to promote physical activity during the work day.

To address mental health and wellbeing, staff created ‘Soup-er Tuesday’, a spin-off on the ‘Bake your Blues Away’ initiative that highlights depression and anxiety.

In July 2014, members of staff brought homemade soup and literally broke bread together to discuss issues including mental health. The event was well attended by staff, including members of the AHA Board and has become an inaugural event.

Read more about AHA’s activities in Healthier Work’s book of case studies 2014-15.

Following the launch of the book, there was also a panel discussion about the business benefits of a healthy workplace featuring Work Safe Commissioner Mark McCabe, Chief Health Officer Dr Paul Kelly, Chris Faulks from the Canberra Business Chamber and Jason Heddle, Healthier Work Champion at Sportsman’s Warehouse.

All panellists agreed that creating a healthier place to work is good for business. Not only are employees more resilient but according to studies from the US, they also have more productive work hours in a month, averaging 143 productive hours compared with just 49 hours a month from a less healthy staff member.

For more information about Healthier Work visit www.healthierwork.act.gov.au or find them on Facebook at Healthier Work ACT.


Forum kick-starts new way forward for BJD

AHA_CTL_036More than 100 people from around Australia participated in a forum on Monday to discuss the future of Bovine Johne’s disease (BJD) management in Australia, as part of the National BJD Review, which is being coordinated by Animal Health Australia (AHA).

The forum is just the beginning of the consultation process which is integral to the development of the National BJD Strategic Plan, due to be implemented by January 2016.

AHA’s Executive Manager, Biosecurity Services, Duncan Rowland said participants in the forum identified some key themes and concerns that will greatly contribute to developing fresh ideas for the management of BJD at the herd, state and federal levels.

“Throughout the course of the day, certain themes and concerns were identified that the participants believed needed to be addressed. This is great, because this is the useful information we need to start the ball rolling with this process,” Mr Rowland explained.

“The key issues identified included: freeing up trade related issues, managing the disease on farm including developing pathways for those affected, and suggestions for future research and development to provide producers with better tools to deal with JD in their stock,” he said.

The one‐day forum was hosted in Sydney and was the first of four opportunities stakeholders, at all levels in the livestock production industry, will have to contribute to the development of the Strategic Plan.

AHA’s Chair, Peter Milne, praised the participants for their constructive and invaluable input on the day, highlighting that as BJD is a contentious and difficult subject, productive and meaningful debate was vital to the ongoing success of Australia’s beef and dairy industries.

“I would like to thank the participants for their contributions on the day and to those people who provided written submissions in the lead up to the event. Thanks to the information we have received we can start putting the bones around a plan for the way forward.

“The next step is for the Reference Panel, which comprises industry, government, and veterinary representatives, to collate the information and feed it into the next stage of development,” Mr Milne said.

The National BJD Strategic Plan is a cooperative program involving Australian livestock industries, government and the veterinary profession that helps the beef and dairy industries reduce the spread and impact of bovine Johne’s disease in Australia.

Currently it’s key goals are to help minimise the contamination of farms and farm products, support the protection of non‐infected herds while minimising disruption to trade and to help reduce the social, economic and trade impact of BJD at herd, regional and national levels.


Sheepmeat Council of Australia welcomes ESCAS review outcomes


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Sheepmeat Council of Australia (SCA) has welcomed the review into the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), the findings of which were released in a report by the Department of Agriculture late January.

SCA president Jeff Murray recognised the work of the Australian Government in remaining committed to working towards a viable, sustainable and well regulated sheep meat industry sector.

“We are pleased to see a review of ESCAS and support the work undertaken by the Australian Government and industry to assure the highest animal welfare standards across our major export markets.

“The live sheep export trade is essential to the livelihoods of thousands of Australian sheep meat producers. Through ESCAS and the work of the industry, the regulatory system has ensured the continuation of the trade across many international markets which is good for our producers who rely on market competition and diversity to drive higher farm gate returns.”

Mr Murray said as the peak industry council for the sheep meat industry, SCA made a submission to the review on behalf of Australia’s sheep meat producers, in support of a system that upheld welfare practices and provided new export markets for Australian sheep.

“This is a world-class system which is helping to inform new standards of animal welfare globally.

“Australia is the second largest exporter of live sheep and ESCAS has significantly increased market access opportunities for our industry which is a crucial part of maintaining global demand for our livestock.

“Sheepmeat Council is very open to any changes as suggested in this report that will simplify any administrative processes that currently overburden industry.

“We look forward to working with the Department of Agriculture to ensure that the highest animal welfare standards are maintained across our export supply chains.”


New NAMP Report available

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The latest NAMP Report is available now.

The latest surveillance information and activities of The National Arbovirus Monitoring Program (NAMP) is now available in the 2013-14 NAMP Report published by Animal Health Australia (AHA).

This latest report provides information that is critical to market access, including the distribution of economically important arboviruses (insect-borne viruses) of livestock and their vectors in Australia. These viruses include bluetongue, Akabane and bovine ephemeral fever (BEF).

Managed by AHA, NAMP is an integrated national program jointly funded by its primary beneficiaries, including the cattle, sheep and goat industries, livestock exporters and the state, territory and Australian governments.

The cornerstone of the Program is the maintenance of a national network of sentinel cattle herds from which regular blood samples are taken to detect these viruses’ activity throughout the sampling year. In addition, insect vectors of these viruses are monitored for changes in their distribution which is influenced by rainfall and temperature.

“The partners of NAMP would like to sincerely thank everyone involved in the program for their assistance in gathering valuable surveillance data over the past 12 months,” AHA Manager Disease Surveillance, Dr Leigh Nind said.

“The support from a wide range of contributors has been critical in maintaining and developing Australia’s market access for the sheep, cattle and goat industries and assisting Australia’s effort to enhance the profitability of its livestock industries.”

Click here for more information about AHA’s surveillance programs and projects.


Barber’s Pole warning for sheep producers

Producers are being warned to be on the look-out for Barber’s Pole worm.

Producers are being warned to be on the look-out for Barber’s Pole worm.

While summer rainfall has recently been welcomed in some areas of Queensland and NSW, livestock producers are being warned to be on the look-out for Barber’s Pole worm.

This parasite which attaches to the lining of the gut can be fatal for all classes of sheep, and is particularly prevalent during wet conditions in summer.

Livestock Biosecurity Network (LBN) New South Wales Regional Officer Louise Pearce says during these high-risk times, producers should increase their monitoring and testing.

“They should be alert for the clinical signs of infection such as anaemia which causes pale to white lower mucous membranes (inner eyelids), reluctance to move, deaths and drop off the mob when mustered,” Ms Pearce explained.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne, in collaboration with AusDiagnostics, have recently announced a new DNA test for the specific diagnosis of roundworm species such as Barber’s Pole worm.

The new diagnostic approach uses miniscule amounts of roundworm DNA present in the faeces of infected sheep. The test can be conducted within 2–3 days, rather than the 7 days required for the conventional larval culture technique, and has improved sensitivity and accuracy. [1] – read more here.

While Barber’s Pole worm infections are regular events in summer rainfall regions, it also occurs in localised areas as far south as Tasmania after summer rainfall meaning regular monitoring is critical.

Burdens of Barber’s Pole worm are very good producers of eggs and numbers build up rapidly in the right conditions leading to large-scale losses – once an outbreak begins, Louise says the flock should be treated immediately with an effective drench.

“Ideally, the sheep should be moved onto a ’clean’ paddock after they are drenched – if they must remain in the same paddock, they should be treated with an effective drench with persistent activity (closantel or long acting moxidectin), to prevent re-infection soon after treatment and monitored to check the effectiveness and ongoing protection.

Paddocks in which outbreaks of Barber’s Pole worm have occurred should be regarded as dangerous to sheep for many months,” she said.

Louise says long-term prevention of problems associated with Barber’s Pole worm requires an integrated parasite program which should include drench resistance testing, grazing management and monitoring of worm egg counts.

“Specific programs for a producer’s area can be developed by using the tools on the Wormboss website in consultation with their local animal health advisor,” she says.

Drench resistance is very common in Barber’s Pole worm and a recent study published in the Australian Veterinary Journal showed that most properties have resistance to all the older drench groups and even four way combinations.

“Drench resistance is very common so it is very important to know your resistance status and to prevent it coming in when you buy sheep with sensible biosecurity practices like quarantine drenching.

“The key is to use one of the new drenches, Zolvix or Startect and two to three other actives when sheep arrive, and then check that the quarantine drench has worked by performing worm egg counts 10-14 days later,” she added.

To help protect their livelihood and income, producers are encouraged to complete the Farm Biosecurity Checklist at www.lbn.org.au.

To find out more about LBN, or if you are interested in holding a biosecurity workshop in your area, contact LBN Regional Officer – Louise Pearce (NSW) on 0488 400 207 – or visit www.lbn.org.au.

[1] http://www.wormboss.com.au/news/articles/tests/new-dna-test-identifies-sheep-worm-species.php


2015 – Year for wool growers to have their say

WPA says 2015 will provide wool growers with an opportunity to have their say on a number of important issues.

WPA says 2015 will provide wool growers with an opportunity to have their say on a number of important issues.

New WoolProducers President Richard Halliday has spoken about 2015 being a big year for WoolProducers Australia and the Australian wool industry.

An internal restructure has seen Jo Hall appointed as interim CEO and Genevieve Morrow appointed as interim Policy Manager – Health and Welfare.

Mr Halliday said earlier this week that 2015 “will provide wool growers with an opportunity to have their say on a number of important issues, including WoolPoll, the WoolProducers Independent Director Elections and a reemphasis on industry unity”.

WoolPoll is held every three years to determine the levy percentage that will be invested into research, development and marketing.

“The WoolPoll Panel, chaired by Will Roberts will again oversight the voting process and all eligible wool growers have the opportunity to determine the levy that directly influences the profitability and sustainability of the wool industry.” Mr Halliday said.

WoolProducers are also holding their Independent Director Elections in the second half of the year. WPA has a long tradition of providing a truly independent voice on behalf of the wool industry, in that every two-years, three positions for independently elected Director Positions are contested.

“The three current Independent Directors Charlie Merriman, Steve Harrison and Max Watts continue to make valuable contributions to our industry, providing policy advice and advocacy on behalf of industry.”

“By having this mechanism we can ensure that completely objective views are provided for consideration around our Board table.” Mr Halliday said.

In the interests of increased unity in the industry, WoolProducers has altered the consultation process within its Board that oversees the health and welfare levy spend.

“The Animal Health and Welfare Board Committee make national policy decisions that affect all growers.  Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association and the Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders are a part of this and have already made important contributions.”

“We’ve extended the invitation further to the Australian Wool Growers Association and we’re looking forward to bringing wool grower groups together.” Mr Halliday concluded.


Webinar on grazing pressure and dog control

LPC0693A free webinar highlighting the results of a fencing project established to control grazing and wild dogs will be held on Tuesday 20 January starting at noon.

A group of like-minded producers near Morven, Queensland have banded together to drive the delivery of a cluster fencing project encompassing 1.1 million acres, 40 separate landholders and three national parks. The fencing enables control of grazing pressure and additional control of wild dogs (in conjunction with other control methods).

The webinar will give participants an opportunity to learn more about how this program was set up, it’s ongoing maintenance and the flow on benefits regarding land values, productivity and diversification.

Amy Gunn of Western Local Land Services, New South Wales was involved in establishing this project and will present an overview of the system. Producer Will Roberts’ property “Victoria Downs” is a part of this cluster fencing project and he will provide first hand feedback on the outcomes of the project from his perspective.

Secure your place, register online here today.

Wedinar details

20 January 2015
12pm-1pm AEDT
Further details

If you have any questions or require more information about this webinar, please contact Julie Petty of Meat & Livestock Australia on 0411 680 516 or jpetty@mla.com.au


Animal Health Australia to conduct BJD review

Have your say at the National BJD Forum on 16 February.

Have your say at the National BJD Forum on 16 February.

Animal Health Australia (AHA) is organising a one‐day forum in Sydney this month as part of a national review of bovine Johne’s disease (BJD) it is conducting on behalf of the National BJD Steering Committee.

The review will provide industry, government and affected communities the opportunity to have direct input into how Australia is going to manage BJD into the future.

A major outcome of the process will be a revised National BJD Strategic Plan, which is expected to be prepared and ready for implementation by January next year.

“With this outcome in mind AHA has organised an independent facilitator who will help us work with those involved, including a cross‐section of the relevant industries, affected producers and individuals and businesses right through the supply chain that are impacted, to develop a thorough and consultative review process,” said Kathleen Plowman, CEO of AHA.

The National BJD Strategic Plan is a cooperative program involving Australian livestock industries, government and the veterinary profession that helps the beef and dairy industries reduce the spread and impact of bovine Johne’s disease in Australia.

It’s key goals are to help minimise the contamination of farms and farm products, support the protection of non‐infected herds while minimising disruption to trade and to help reduce the social, economic and trade impact of BJD at herd, regional and national levels. Animal Health Australia manages the program on behalf of the key stakeholders.

Ms Plowman said in addition to the national forum event to be held in Sydney on 16 February at the Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel, the review process includes multiple rounds of calls for submissions from anyone involved or affected by BJD.

“A range of topics have been identified for discussion at the national forum, including diagnostics, trade implications, an explanation of the various strains of BJD, vaccination and the economics involved in the various control measures,” she said.

The event will also feature an open facilitated general forum.

For more information email bjdreview@animalhealthaustralia.com.au.

More information about the review is available here. 


Make stock surveillance your New Year’s resolution

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AHA runs a number of programs and projects that support a nationally integrated surveillance system.

With 2015 now here, Animal Health Australia (AHA) is encouraging producers across the country to reduce the potential impacts from diseases, pests and weeds by making it their New Year’s resolution to undertake regular stock surveillance on their properties.

Duncan Rowland, AHA’s Executive Manager of Biosecurity Services said undertaking general stock surveillance is already a core biosecurity practice for a number of producers, but more producers should be undertaking it in 2015 to protect their farm profits and stock trading options.

“The 2013 Farm Biosecurity Producer Survey showed that 33 per cent of livestock producers actively conducted routine stock monitoring as a biosecurity practice on their property and we would like to see that increase when we undertake the third biennial survey later this year,” he said.

Steps producers can take to improve their chances of early pest or disease detection include:

  • Establish an active monitoring program and record the results, even when nothing is found.
  • Become familiar with the usual animal and disease symptoms.
  • Look out for insect pests and weeds found on your property. By knowing what’s normally found on your property will increase your chances of discovering something unusual and consult with neighbours on anything suspicious, as it is unlikely that the cause of the problem doesn’t stop at a single property’s boundaries.
  • Know what the high priority biosecurity threats are for your industry. As well as being available from the Farm Biosecurity website (www.farmbioscurity.com.au) this information is available through local veterinarians, industry groups or state/territory departments of primary industries.
  • Ensure your farm personnel know how and where to report any unusual diseases, pests or weeds.

AHA runs a number of programs and projects that support a nationally integrated surveillance system that underpins trade and supports the adoption of new and innovative technologies for data generation and information management systems. Information about these programs can be found on the AHA website at www.animalhealthaustralia.com.au

A range of information about stock monitoring and disease and pest reporting is easy to access from the Farm Biosecurity website. Farm Biosecurity is conducted by AHA in conjunction with Plant Health Australia to help producers across the country protect their farm businesses and incomes by implementing good on-farm biosecurity practices.

“Any unusual pest or disease symptom should be reported immediately through the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888,” Mr Rowland said.

“Finally, it is very important to ensure your farm personnel know how and where to report any unusual diseases, pests or weeds,” said Mr Rowland.