Reducing the risks when re-stocking

By Dr Georgia Grimmond, District Veterinarian

With the possibility of a better season around the corner, I’m starting to hear whisperings of producers contemplating buying in stock to replenish numbers. As local stock prices are currently high, producers are looking further abroad, particularly through AuctionsPlus, to purchase stock.

Whilst I don’t discourage it, know that introduced stock pose a potential disease risk, so I urge producers to be cautious and assertive with vendors or agents and ask questions! Ideally, all stock should be visually inspected prior to purchase, though I realise this is not always possible.

Disease risks

Disease risks will vary depending on where you are purchasing stock from. Diseases such as Johne’s, footrot, vibriosis, pestivirus, brucellosis and worm resistance, just to name a few, should be at the forefront of your mind. Remember that there are livestock entry requirements when moving stock interstate, so do your research.

Consider requesting a Sheep Health Statement

Whilst it is voluntary for stock purchases within NSW, I highly recommend that in addition to the National Vendor Declaration, producers request a (National) Sheep Health Statement from vendors prior to purchase. Be careful with travelling stock that may have been withheld off feed. Ensure that hungry stock are fed hay before introducing new feed or putting them out to pasture. Once stock have reached your property the onus on preventing, eliminating or minimising disease risk falls on you. When I bring up the topic of On-Farm Biosecurity Plans, it is often followed by a collective dismissive groan. But I cannot stress enough how important it is, especially when introducing stock.

On-farm biosecurity plans

The five-key pillars to a biosecurity plan are:

  1. Segregating and quarantining incoming livestock.
  2. Regularly monitoring for pests, disease, or anything unusual.
  3. Enacting a sound animal health program e.g. entry drenches, vaccination etc.
  4. Having access procedures for visitors.
  5. Sound record keeping. In the event of an outbreak of disease on your property, knowing the fully history of affected animals is vital in diagnosing and managing disease.

If you have an queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your local LLS office on 1300 795 299.

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