Vet says vigilance is vital

Agriculture Victoria senior veterinary officer Jeff Cave is reminding farmers to maintain good biosecurity habits now that cattle can move easily across the country. Photo by Supplied

In January the final barrier stopping the free movement of cattle within Australia came down, when Western Australia eased import requirements.

Agriculture Victoria senior veterinary officer Jeff Cave has seen many disease programs come and go in his 24-year career with Agriculture Victoria.

With so many dairy cows flowing onto farms eager to make the most of the milk and livestock prices, Dr Cave is reminding farmers to maintain good biosecurity habits.

“Overall, the movement of cattle from Victoria to any other part of Australia has become a relatively straightforward process,” he said.

“That is not to say the risk of introduction of JD (Johne’s disease) or a host of other disease has reduced when you introduce new cattle onto your property.”

When introducing new cattle, get a full and detailed history of the cattle, request a National Cattle Health Declaration from the vendor, and apply an on-farm quarantine period in a well-prepared, separate area where the newly introduced cattle can be monitored for disease.

Dr Cave remembers when Australia was divided into zones according to Johne’s disease prevalence.

“You may recall the requirement of check testing and later a ‘Beef Only Declaration’ to move cattle into the protected zones of NSW and Queensland,” he said.

“Perhaps the biggest change occurred in mid-2016 with the deregulation of BJD in most states and territories and the launch of the Johne’s Beef Assurance Score to allow producers to self-assess and communicate their JD risk.

“The Johne’s Disease Dairy Score for dairy cattle herds followed in early 2018.”

For further information, contact a veterinarian or an Agriculture Victoria animal health officer, or Local Land Services in NSW.