What is Farm Biosecurity?
Biosecurity refers to practices that aim to reduce the risk of introducing and spreading diseases, pests, and weeds.
- Allows for early detection and management to reduce the impact of diseases, pests, and weeds.
- Underpins farm productivity
- Maintains market access
- Gives consumers confidence
- Protects the natural environment
What can I do on farm?
Effective biosecurity isn’t costly or difficult to implement. Preparing a biosecurity plan is a great starting point as it takes you through key practices, documenting what you’re doing and helps identify key areas to address.
A biosecurity plan consists of 6 components.
1. Farm Inputs
Products entering your property pose a risk, including new livestock, feed, and water supplies.
When purchasing livestock, you can request an Animal Health Declaration (AHD), in addition to the compulsory National Vendor Declaration (NVD), which declares the livestock disease status and helps you assess the risk of introducing diseases or pests.
Once stock arrive from sale, agistment or shows, inspect their health, and keep them separate from other stock for at least 21 days. This allows signs of disease to develop and stock to empty out.
When selecting stock feed, it is important that it does not contain animal matter. Also inspect feed for other foreign material on arrival.
Identify waterways and drainage that could carry contaminants, faecal matter, or chemicals onto your property. Fencing these areas will reduce the risk of stock accessing contaminants.
2. People, Vehicles & Equipment
People, vehicles, and equipment entering and moving around your property can pose a high risk and it is important to monitor and record their movements where possible.
Display highly visible signs to support your property’s biosecurity message and control where people enter your property.
For more templates, see the AgVic website.
It is important that all employees and visitors are aware of the biosecurity practices on your property.
This may include a designated parking area and transporting visitors around your property in your own vehicle. High risk visitors, who may have been in contact with livestock on other properties such as vets and livestock agents, should wear clean boots and clean and disinfect any equipment.
For more information on biosecurity signs and the different templates, please see the AgVic website.
Regularly monitoring livestock for unusual symptoms is key to rapid disease response. Keep watch for:
- Unexplained deaths
- Sores/ulcers/lesions on the feet or mouth
- A reluctance to eat or move
- Excessive salivation/drooling
Report any cases to your vet or the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Hotline 1800 675 888.
3. Production Practices
Having a permanent quarantine area allows animals to be isolated if needed.
If a death occurs, a disposal procedure will reduce the risk of other livestock coming into contact with the carcass.
Ensuring property and boundary fences are maintained will reduce the risk of strays entering your property, and also prevent nose-to nose contact with neighbouring stock.
4. Pests & Weeds
Be aware of any feral animal or weed control programs that are in place in your area, and try to coordinate your management strategies in with them.
Quarantining stock on arrival gives weed seeds time to pass through the animal’s digestive tract before going out to pasture.
5. Farm Outputs
It is important that animals leaving your property are fit to load, to minimize the risk of animal welfare issues and disease spread.
To comply with NLIS standards, stock leaving your property must be tagged appropriately, recorded on the NLIS database, and accompanied by an NVD.
6. Train, Plan & Record
Efficiently recording livestock treatments is essential to maintain your herd health status, and to complete accurate NVD’s and AHD’s when stock leave your property.
It is also important to be aware of vulnerable people working on your property, ensuring they are protected against animal-to-human diseases such as Q fever, tetanus, and leptospirosis.
Make sure all family members and employees are aware of their role in effective biosecurity on your farm, and who to contact if a risk is identified.
The Animal Health Australia and the Plant Health Australia have created Farm Biosecurity where you can find all types of resources to protect our farms from the risk of disease.
Meat and Livestock Australia also have resources for farm biosecurity.
For a copy of the On-Farm Biosecurity Plan Template.
Read more about the changes to the Livestock Management Act and how to ensure offences are enforceable here.
For further information, please contact the VFF Livestock Group on 1300 882 833 or by email [email protected]
Disclaimer: All care is taken in the preparation of the information and published materials produced by the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) including but not limited to errors, defects or omissions in the information provided. VFF does not make any representations or give any warranties about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or suitability for any particular purpose in the preparation of the information and published materials. This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute financial, legal, investment, production, or marketing advice. To the maximum extent permitted by law, the VFF and all persons acting on behalf of the VFF in preparing documents, are excluded from all and any liability for any loss or damage of any kind arising in relation to this publication including any reliance on the information contained herein.