On farm biosecurity planning tips

On farm biosecurity tips factsheetWith the current risk of foot-and-mouth disease and lumpy skin disease, now is the time to review your farm biosecurity plan to ensure you are protecting your property, neighbours and industry.

What is farm biosecurity?

Farm biosecurity is the set of measures designed to  protect a property from the entry and spread of infectious plant and animal diseases, pests, and weeds. Farm biosecurity is your responsibility, and that of every person visiting or working on your property.

Farm biosecurity doesn’t have to be hard, and a simple, tailored biosecurity plan can help protect your farm business.

This page covers a number of key on-farm biosecurity tips that are important to ensure you are prepared to manage Emergency Animal Diseases as well as tips for how to prepare your own farm biosecurity plan.

Preventing the introduction of animal and plant diseases and weeds by sticking to some simple rules may prevent disaster. As primary producers or visitors to a farm, we all have a role in ensuring we are aware of the risks, implications and ways to manage farm biosecurity.

Good farm biosecurity is simply a series of basic management practices to prevent or minimise the risk of introducing contagious diseases and noxious weeds being carried onto your property by people, animals, equipment or vehicles.

Download our farm biosecurity planning factsheet PDF, 354.35 KB

Making a Farm Biosecurity Plan

Considering your own farm biosecurity plan helps you identify, prioritise, and implement the right biosecurity practices that are relevant to your property and your business. A self-assessment checklist will help you identify your property's biosecurity strengths and weaknesses.

The best place to start is thinking about your:

  • Farm inputs and outputs – such as feeds (particularly purchased), animals and seed, fertilisers, chemicals, water supplies and drainage waters
  • People, vehicles and equipment – including appropriate signage, vehicle and equipment hygiene, movement of people to and from your farm
  • Production practices – such as the use of irrigation and drainage waters, fences (good fences make for good neighbours!), vaccination and drenching programs, chemical applications, crop and animal health monitoring
  • Ferals and weeds – wild and feral animals can mix with your own stock, spread disease, and contaminate feed and water. Weeds in their own right can pose significant biosecurity risks.
  • Train, plan and record – have good systems in place, record stock movements, and have staff and family members well-trained so they know what to look out for, be vigilant and report anything suspicious.

1. Know the signs of disease

Make sure you and all those on your property can recognise foot-and-mouth disease and lumpy skin disease.

Both foot-and-mouth disease and lumpy skin disease are emergency animal diseases.

This means an animal showing suspect signs of either disease must be reported to your local private veterinarian, a Local Land Services District Veterinarian or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline (1800 675 888).

Look up your local District Vet.

Display these numbers somewhere prominent on your property (eg in your office or yards) and make sure they are saved in everybody’s phone.

What does foot-and-mouth disease look like?

Foot-and-mouth disease affects cloven-hoofed animals. Foot-and-mouth disease mouth blisters in cattle (Image: Mark Stevenson)

Signs include:

  • Blisters on the mouth, snout, tongue, lips and/ or feet
  • Erosions remaining after blisters rupture
  • Drooling
  • Fever
  • Limping and reluctance to move
  • Loss of production.

Read more and see images of foot-and-mouth disease symptoms.

What does lumpy skin disease look like?

Lumpy skin disease affects cattle and water buffalo.Lumpy skin disease in cattle - Skin nodules (Image: Dr Deepak Subedi)

Signs include:

  • Skin nodules and death
  • Nasal and eye discharge
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Drop in milk production
  • Fever
  • Loss of body condition
  • Fertility issues and abortion.

Read more and see images of lumpy skin disease symptoms.

2. Reduce the threat by reducing vectors

There are several vectors that spread foot-and-mouth disease and/or lumpy skin disease and other farm biosecurity threats.

Make sure your farm biosecurity plan identifies these potential pathways and that you have adequate mitigation methods in place to protect your farm.

Think about how you can minimise the risk of introducing diseases, pests and weed seeds at each checkpoint or biosecurity zone around your farm. Biosecurity should become a habit as you build your plan around daily, monthly or yearly farm routines.

High-risk vectors can be transferred by:

3. Farm hygiene and husbandry practices

Come clean-go clean! This is imperative for vehicles, footwear, equipment and machinery.

Many diseases can be carried onto your property via dirt, manure or grass. To determine if your current farm biosecurity plan hygiene practices are up to date see the AUSVETPlan Decontamination Manual for the latest information on decontamination procedures and recommended disinfectants.

Consider people coming onto your farm as well. Have they been on other farms recently? Refer to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for the latest advice to overseas travellers. Simple things like having signage at your farm entrances will ensure biosecurity is kept ‘front of mind’ to any visitor or farm worker.

Farms in NSW can implement a Biosecurity Management Plan to provide extra protection against biosecurity risks caused by unlawful entry.

Ensure all of your staff and family are trained in husbandry, management and disease recognition.

4. New & returning stock

Ensure that your farm biosecurity plan sets quarantine periods for new stock, and your own stock returning (ie from agricultural shows, agistment, etc).

The minimum quarantine period recommended for foot-and-mouth disease is 15 days, and 17 days for lumpy skin disease.

When purchasing in livestock always request an Animal Health Declaration (AHD) with your national vendor declaration. Free downloadable copies of all AHDs can be found on the Farm Biosecurity website.

And remember; all livestock that are moved onto your property need to be transferred on the national livestock identification system (NLIS) database onto your property identification code (PIC) within two days.

Read more about stock movements.

5. Training and record keeping

Animal Health Australia (AHA) has several online emergency animal disease training courses available for all producers.

The Emergency Animal Disease Foundation Course outlines how a response would be managed in Australia and gives you a great overview.

The Foot-And-Mouth Disease Awareness Protecting your Livelihood and Community Course emphasises everyone’s role in preventing, reporting and responding to foot-and-mouth disease.

For more information and to register please visit the AHA website.

Remember it’s important to keep training records.

6. Plan for emergencies

Use the knowledge gained through the AHA emergency animal disease training, NSW DPI and Local Land Services websites.

Prepare for an emergency animal disease event on your farm, in the region or in the country.

Visit the Farm Biosecurity website to review or create your plan using their toolkit.

Practice makes perfect, and you’ll be surprised how many things you learn through this process.

7. Help us to help you!

If you have cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, bison, buffalo, deer, camelids, equines (ie horses and donkeys) and poultry (100 or more), you need to register for a PIC.

Please submit your annual land and stock return by 31 August every year (even if you don’t have any animals).

Find out more about annual land and stock returns.

8. Feeling overwhelmed?

Local Land Services has gathered some of the best resources available into one web portal here.

It also includes contact details to help you find your local District Veterinarian.

Visit the Farm Biosecurity website if you don’t have a farm biosecurity plan or need more information on how to upscale your current plan.

Download our farm biosecurity planning factsheet PDF, 354.35 KB

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