Preparing dairy farmers for new animal welfare standards

Dairy Cattle GuideTo ensure dairy farmers are aware of their responsibilities under the proposed new animal welfare standards for cattle, Australian Dairy Farmers and Dairy Australia have produced the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle: A Guide for Dairy Farmers.

The Guide outlines impending legal requirements and includes a set of guidelines that complement the standards. It also contains additional recommended practices to support good welfare outcomes.

The new standards still need to be endorsed by state, territory and Australian Agriculture Ministers, with implementation occurring through state and territory regulation. Once implemented they will replace the existing Model Code of Practice for Welfare of Animals: Cattle.

The new standards cover the full range of on-farm management practices for cattle and are consistent with the National Dairy Industry Strategy for Animal Welfare.

Another animal welfare resource Dairy Australia has published is the Caring for our Cows booklet which contains case studies and practical examples for farmers. The publication also outlines the National Dairy Industry Animal Welfare Strategy and the Australian dairy industry’s approach to animal health and wellbeing.

For more information about these initiatives visit the Dairy Australia website.

10 years preserving Australia’s livestock market access

TSEFAP_10yrAnimal Health Australia (AHA) is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of a highly successful program that has been enhancing market confidence in Australia’s livestock trading partners that Australian animals and animal products are free from an exotic disease that causes diseases like scrapie in sheep and mad cow disease.

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are a class of rare brain diseases that affect the central nervous system. These diseases are very rare, fatal and are characterised by spongy degeneration of the brain. There are no treatments or vaccines for these diseases.

Australia is TSE-free and to help ensure this remains the case the TSE Freedom Assurance Program (TSEFAP) was established to integrate all TSE measures into one national program with clear and nationally integrated operational components and a transparent funding framework.

The TSEFAP has the following operational components:

  • Targeted TSE surveillance
  • Ruminant feeding restrictions, including audit, feed sampling and testing
  • Imported animal quarantine and surveillance scheme – this includes an industry funded tracing scheme and the quarantine of all susceptible cattle imported from countries that have later experienced TSEs
  • Communications, including the production of advisory material for industry etc.

Animal Health Australia’s Biosecurity Officer, Dr Rob Barwell, who coordinates the program with participating stakeholders said the success of the program is best highlighted in the statistics that have been generated over the past 10 years.
“The figures from the ruminant feed ban program audits are just as impressive, with nearly 6,000 government-operated feed ban inspections being undertaken on stock feed producers, suppliers and consumers since the program’s inception in 2004. And, in the same period, 103,000 industry QA ruminant feed ban audits have been undertaken.“Since 2004 over 11,000 sheep and cattle brain samples have been tested as part of the targeted TSE surveillance program. This equates to three brain samples being tested every day,” Rob said.

“Every audit and every sample plays a vital role in providing the evidence we need, to demonstrate to our international trading partners that we are keeping Australia free from TSEs.” he said.

The TSEFAP is a partnership program managed by Animal Health Australia on behalf of the participating organisations:

Australian Government Department of Agriculture Food Standards Australia and New Zealand Australian Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) 
NSW Department of Primary Industries   QLD Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry   NT Department of Department of Primary Industries & Fisheries  
Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Victoria
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania SAFEMEAT Cattle Council of Australia
Australian Lot Feeders’ Association Sheepmeat Council of Australia WoolProducers Australia
Australian Dairy Farmers Australian Meat Industry Council Australian Meat Processor Corporation
Australian Renderers’ Association Stock Feed Manufacturers’ Council of Australia Goat Industry Council of Australia


2014 Ralph Hood winner announced

2014 Ralph Hood Award winner Dr Andrew Bean.

2014 Ralph Hood Award winner Dr Andrew Bean.

Dr Andrew Bean, Group Leader, Disease Prevention and Detection at CSIRO’s Biosecurity Flagship was announced as this year’s winner of the Ralph Hood Award at Animal Health Australia’s annual general meeting last week.

The award honours the memory of Ralph Hood, former CEO of AHA and his contribution to Australia’s animal health system. Winners are awarded a $15,000 grant to help them enhance their knowledge, skills and leadership potential in the cause of livestock health and welfare.

With expertise in cellular and molecular immunology specialising in host-pathogen interaction, Dr Bean has developed a research program focused on ‘One Health’, directed at enhancing both animal and human health by identifying new antiviral strategies, developing better therapeutics, vaccines and improving disease diagnosis.

Dr Bean’s vision for the next decade is to support activities that would span the full spectrum of biosecurity research to reduce the impact of biosecurity risks to animal health, the environment and the economic prosperity of Australia.

He plans to use the award funding to attend several prestigious international conferences and training facilities, including a secondment to the National Animal Disease Centre in the USA to help advance his expertise and foster international partnerships.

“This grant will help to support not only the development of collaborations but it will assist in the development of new capabilities,” Dr Bean said.

“Our understanding of how natural host reservoirs deal with zoonotic infections at the level of the immune response will provide insights into the development of new strategies for disease control.

“The most effective way to advance or knowledge and capability is through effective learning and collaboration. Furthermore, we are currently developing work in a number of areas that could be greatly benefited by the bringing together a set of multi-disciplinary teams.

“This award would help to facilitate interactions with other international groups to build not only relationships but to allow the technology transfer that would permit us to carry out research.”

Established in 2011, previous winners of the Ralph Hood Award include Dr Simon Firestone, a lecturer in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health; Dr Sam Hamilton, Director of the Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Section at the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Dr Deborah Finlaison, a veterinary virologist.

Australia’s Biosecurity Future report launched in Canberra

BiosecurityFuturesReport_coverHow to prepare for future biological challenges and what needs to be done to protect Australia’s environment, industries, people and way of life are some of the key issues raised in a new report Australia’s Biosecurity Future launched  in Canberra on Tuesday 25 November.

CSIRO partnered with Animal Health Australia (AHA), the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and the Invasive Animals CRC and consulted with various industry, government and scientific organisations to deliver the report.

As well as outlining Australia’s biosecurity future over the next 20-30 years, the report highlights the importance of having a biosecurity system that is pre-emptive, responsive, resilient and based on cutting edge surveillance, informatics and new technologies.

In addition to considering the 12 potential megashocks, the report identifies a number of global megatrends that highlight significant change and the growing complexity relating to Australia’s  biosecurity challenges.

Kathleen Plowman AHA CEO highlighted the need to protected Australia’s enviable biosecurity status during her presentation at the launch, which was attended by AHA board directors, government and industry Members, service providers and other key stakeholders.

The keynote address was delivered by Simon McKeon, CSIRO Board Chairman, who shared insights into the future of Australia’s biosecurity status. The Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and the Invasive Animals CRC also presented.

The event was followed by AHA’s Industry Forum which was well attended by Members.

Certainty at AHA AGM amidst a year of change

Chairman Peter Milne at AHA's AGM.

Chairman Peter Milne at AHA’s AGM.

Animal Health Australia (AHA) Members voted to re-elect Directors David Palmer, Helen Scott-Orr and Sharon Starick for another four-year term at the Company’s Annual General Meeting held in Canberra on 26 November.

Directors since 2010-11, all three Board members bring a wealth of extensive livestock, animal health policy and government experience, as well as skills in stakeholder relationships, corporate leadership and market access.

Chosen by an independent selection committee, all three returning Directors thanked AHA government and industry Members and other AGM attendees for endorsing their re-election and spoke of their passion and commitment to serving on the AHA Board.

As part of the CEO’s presentation, Kathleen Plowman showcased the ‘big ticket items’ for the year including the company’s new five-year strategic plan, future colocation with Plant Health Australia and AHA’s involvement in the national livestock standstill program Exercise Odysseus.

Ms Plowman also thanked everyone for their support and encouragement during her first year as CEO of AHA, in particular Chairman Peter Milne, the AHA Board and the “committed and dedicated AHA staff” for welcoming her to AHA.

“It’s been a challenging – but very satisfying – year, in which we have achieved many significant outcomes for our Members.

“The great thing about AHA is that through the company’s independence, accumulated experience and technical expertise, we make a tangible difference to the nature and efficient delivery of animal health services.

“We also deliver the best possible return on funds invested in those services by our members – over the past year we have delivered outcomes on more than 60 programs and projects as reported on in the 2013-14 Annual Report.”

In his address to Members, AHA Chairman Peter Milne spoke about the rapid change and “ongoing constrained operating environment” being experienced by many Members and other stakeholders in the industry.

“You are not alone in your experience of change or the need to change to keep pace with an ever changing and increasingly complex world.

“With your continued support and ongoing investment, AHA can continue to actively build on and strengthen our partnerships and collaborations to help secure the future of Australia’s animal health system for everyone’s benefit.”

In other business, Company Secretary and Executive Manager – Corporate and Member Services, Mike Willoughby reported on AHA’s financial performance against budgets as per the Annual Operating Plan 2013-14.

Productive Members’ Forum held in Canberra

AHA CEO Kathleen Plowman.

AHA CEO Kathleen Plowman.

The new AHA five-year strategic plan and forward estimates for the 2015-16 Annual Operating Plan  were amongst the topics for discussion at the AHA Members’ Forum in Canberra last Wednesday 26 November.

Kathleen Plowman, AHA CEO chaired the meeting, which was attended by AHA Board members, government and industry members, service providers and associate members.

The event included a round table discussion to review the draft AHA five year strategic plan and participants were presented with detailed information for discussion and further consideration leading up to the preparation of a final plan for approval early next year.

Presentations by each of Executive Managers responsible for each of AHA’s service streams followed, outlining project and program proposals for delivery in the 2015-16 financial year, and forward estimates of expenditure for all projects and programs.



Stock Health Monitor goes digital

SHM soon will be available exclusively online.

SHM soon will be available exclusively online.

Animal Health Australia’s specialist publication about livestock production conditions, Stock Health Monitor, is going digital.

The move caters for increasing internet usage by a growing number of producers [1] in Australia who will now have the opportunity to enjoy SHM delivered straight to their inboxes.

The final print issue of the bi-annual newsletter, the spring/summer edition, will be hitting mailboxes in the next week.

SHM provides Australia’s alpaca, cattle, goat and sheep producer communities with the latest information on avoiding, managing and controlling livestock production conditions, implementing best practice on-farm biosecurity measures and updates on the latest research and development.

It is a joint initiative between AHA and livestock industries in recognition that livestock production conditions impact the red meat value chain and Australia’s market access certification requirements.

SHM is published twice year; in spring/summer and autumn/winter.

Stories in this issue  include:

  • Spring into action with your biosecurity planning
  • A plan that doesn’t kid around with CAE and JD
  • Myth busted – no sheep breed is resistant to JD
  • New bovine Johne’s disease resource for cattle producers
  • News roundup

Download the spring/summer  issue of SHM here or by going to and click on the ‘Newsletters’ tab

Tell us what you think

We welcome feedback and contributions to SHM. If you have a story you would like considered for publication, please email

Articles should be around 200-600 words. Please note that any submissions will be edited for clarity, style and length to ensure they fit meet AHA style and standards.

Photos are greatly appreciated but should be high resolution – 300 dpi or larger than 2MB. Please provide a photo credit and written confirmation that you have permission to use it (e.g. name, organisation, date).

We hope you enjoy reading this issue of SHM!


[1] Farm Biosecurity 2013 Producer Survey Summary

Input wanted for identifying current wild dog investment

WilddogProducers and other groups affected by wild dogs are being urged to take part in a national survey to map current investment in wild dog management and to determine future priorities.

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.

A key tool in tackling Australia’s wild dog problem is The National Wild Dog Action Plan which was endorsed by government and industry and launched in July this year.

The Plan aims to provide a better coordinated, resourced and focused national and cross-industry response to the escalating problem of wild dog predation, with responses from the survey helping to determine priorities and activities for implementation.

Input is needed from stakeholders who are directly or indirectly involved with, or affected by, wild dogs including:

  • producers (wool, sheepmeat, cattle, goats)
  • local control groups
  • regional entities (including Natural Resource Management groups, Local Government, Parks and Wildlife Services, Local Land Services, Regional Biosecurity Groups)
  • state/territory governments (eg. agriculture, environment)
  • research and development organisations
  • any other organisations that contribute to the control of wild dogs in Australia, including animal health and welfare groups and mining companies

The survey takes about 5 – 10 minutes to complete.  Responses will be accepted until Monday 15th December.

For more information contact:

Michele Jackson,


Wild Dog Group meets in Canberra

AHA met with other industry bodies such as WoolProducers Australia, Cattle Council of Australia, Goat Industry Council of Australia, Meat & Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation met in Canberra this week for the inaugural Wild Dog Stakeholder Consultative Group meeting.

This aim of the meeting was to build on and strengthen wild dog management work, consistent with local priorities and imperatives in the national interest.


Sheepmeat Council elects Jeff Murray as new President

New President Jeff Murray.

New President Jeff Murray.

The Sheepmeat Council of Australia (SCA), the nation’s peak sheepmeat body, has elected Jeff Murray as its new President at the Council’s Annual General Meeting in Sydney this week.

Jeff Murray, a prime lamb producer from Beverley in Western Australia, is excited about the opportunity to represent producers on issues affecting the sheepmeat industry.

“I would like to thank the Council for their support in electing me as their leader, and thank Ian McColl for the significant contributions he has made to the sheep industry over the past three years as President.

“I am excited to be able to lead the industry through an important period in its history. There are many opportunities for our industry, but there are also a number of challenges we must address if we are to increase production and meet the growing demand for our premium product.

“Our exports are growing and we have significant opportunities in a diverse range of markets, which we hope will increase returns for producers at the farm gate.

“At this critical time, there is a lot of activity around defining structures and roles in the industry. It is of upmost importance that we continue to improve our research & development, marketing and the industry systems that have helped underpin the success of the sheepmeat industry”, Mr Murray said.

Mr Murray has most recently served as SCA’s Vice-President and takes over the Presidency role from Central West New South Wales producer Ian McColl, who has completed his maximum three year term as President.

Alexander MacLachlan, a producer from Linden Park in South Australia was elected as SCA Vice-President. David Boyle from York in Western Australia was elected as SCA’s Honorary Treasurer

Cattle Council of Australia elects new President

New CCA President Howard Smith. Photo: CCA

New CCA President Howard Smith. Photo: CCA

The Cattle Council of Australia board have today elected Howard Smith as President.

Howard takes over the role from Andrew Ogilvie, who has completed his maximum three-year term as President.

“First and foremost, I would like to personally thank and commend Andrew for the role that he played as Cattle Council President.

“The contribution that Andrew has made to the beef industry was not without significant time away from his own family and business. Andrew was President of Cattle Council during a period of transition and throughout his tenure he made a number of difficult decisions with the best interests of the industry at the forefront of his mind.”

Howard operates a breeding, fattening and trading beef operation with his family in Rolleston, Central Queensland and is also the immediate past-Chair of the Agforce Cattle Board. Howard has been a driving force behind the development of the Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System and is determined to find opportunities for producers to gain premiums and increase transparency.

“I am extremely proud to be elected into this position,” Mr Smith said.

“The beef industry is currently confronting significant challenges, including discussion around industry restructure, consumer interest in sustainability and animal welfare and the continued challenge of farm-gate prices.

“If we are going to provide the best possible representation for Australian beef producers, the industry representational structure must be solid.

“The areas that I see as being integral to my role at Cattle Council are ensuring that the industry structure is solid and supporting the beef language review,” Mr Smith said.

Tony Hegarty from Cassilis, NSW, was elected Vice President and Paul Saward, Redpa, Tasmania, was re-elected as Chairman of the Finance & Audit Committee.