National cattle health declaration as a biosecurity tool

Recent changes to the management of Johne’s disease (JD) in cattle has led to a greater focus on biosecurity at a farm level, with producers controlling the disease risk on their own properties.

According to Livestock Biosecurity Network’s (LBN) Dr Sarah-Jane Wilson, purchasing livestock, or having new livestock arriving on your property in an agistment or lease arrangement, is one of the highest risk activities for introducing diseases, pests or parasites into your herd or onto your property.

“Whenever livestock are moved between Property Identification Codes (PICs), to saleyards or processors, a National Vendor Declaration (NVD) is a required travel document that provides information to support Australia’s food safety reputation for red meat,” Dr Wilson said.

“To build a better health picture of cattle that are being introduced onto your enterprise, buyers and agisters, are urged to request a National Cattle Heath Declaration from Vendors or agistees in an addition to the NVD.

“This declaration provides supplementary information that can assist in determining health and biosecurity risks that may be associated with the incoming animals,” she said.

A National Cattle Health Declaration includes information on biosecurity practices involving the cattle, including vaccinations and prior treatments, health testing that has been performed and prior herd health history.

Melinee Leather, a cattle producer from Banana, Queensland, says producers are best-placed to risk assess all their livestock purchases first.

“Diseases such as pestivirus and JD can have huge productivity and trade impacts on cattle enterprises, resulting in economic losses and often changes in management practices,” she said.

“Preventing the introduction of such diseases can save significant time and financial outlay.

“Knowing the likelihood of animals having these conditions, may assist buyers with their decision making in a risk based process,” Mrs Leather said.

Sound farm biosecurity practices assist in managing the risk to the health, productivity and market access for your livestock. These practices include the regular or daily activities such as vaccination, monitoring livestock for disease and maintaining boundary fences, as well as the documentation systems that support market access for food safety and livestock health.

LBN can assist producers or groups of producers in building biosecurity plans. It plays a role in managing on-farm biosecurity by working closely with producers and livestock industry members to provide tools and information to minimise the risks to the health, productivity and market access of livestock through improved biosecurity practices.

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