Small landholders play a vital role in our industry’s biosecurity front line.
Just like primary producers, they have responsibilities both as a good neighbour and in protecting Australia’s status as a clean and green producer of livestock for international markets.
It doesn’t matter if you just have a few sheep or cattle, owning livestock comes legal obligations, and it’s your responsibility to know what is required.
I presented recently at the Huon Small Farm Expo on the role small landholders can play in protecting themselves and those around them from the risks of unwanted weeds, pests and diseases.
Whilst majority of the audience had heard the term biosecurity, many weren’t aware how it related to them keeping livestock.
Neglecting to control parasites such as lice and worms can impact on your neighbours’ flocks and herds, and their livelihood.
Controlling weeds is also vital as they can easily spread to neighbouring properties.
No matter how many livestock you have (cattle, sheep, pigs, alpacas or goats) you must have a property identification code (PIC) for your farm. You can register for a PIC with your state government department of agriculture.
Your PIC operates hand in glove with the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS), which is Australia’s system for identification and traceability of livestock.
All livestock leaving your property must have a legal and species-appropriate identification device.
You can order NLIS ear tags through your rural merchandiser or tag manufacturer by quoting your PIC.
To make the NLIS work properly and enhance traceability in the event of a disease outbreak, all livestock coming onto and off your property must be transferred in the national database.
Australia is fortunate to be free of many exotic pests and diseases, and is known around the world as a producer of high-quality livestock.
It is important this reputation is maintained and promoted through effective surveillance for exotic pests and diseases.
If you notice any unusual signs of disease or illness in your livestock, call a vet or the national Emergency Animal Disease hotline 1800 675 888.
Don’t worry how insignificant a sign may be. Small signs may be an early indication of something significant.
Some landholders who keep a couple of pigs may not be aware that for biosecurity reasons it is illegal to feed them swill (swill is food scraps or food waste that contains or has come into contact with meat or meat products).
This includes food scraps, bakery/restaurant waste and untreated cooking oil.
Swill feeding is a biosecurity risk that can lead to the introduction and spread of disease and the practice has led to outbreaks of foot and mouth disease overseas.
Stick to commercial pig feed and check on your pigs’ health regularly.
If your pigs get sick or die unexpectedly, seek advice from your local vet or animal health officer.
LBN offers on-farm biosecurity planning workshops to livestock owners – contact your local LBN officer to find out when there will be a workshop near you.