Providing practical information to help you protect your farm from biosecurity risks

Avian influenza outbreak a timely reminder to secure your farm

November 29, 2012

Foam depopulationThe recent outbreak of avian influenza at a free range layer farm near Maitland in New South Wales is a timely reminder about the importance of good biosecurity practices for all farms and agribusinesses, especially those involved in animal production.

The virus at the Maitland facility was the H7 Avian Influenza strain – not the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain that has gained worldwide attention – and cannot be transmitted to humans.

Simple and easy to implement biosecurity practices can help producers protect their investment and avoid losses in production and income that result from a disease outbreak.

“Experience has shown that it is easier and cheaper to reduce the risk of disease than to eradicate diseases and pests once they have become established,” said Duncan Rowland, Executive Manager Biosecurity Services at Animal Health Australia.

“All producers can take some simple actions to protect their property and livestock – and many of these can become part of a regular routine. Most actions don’t need to cost a lot of money or time and can go a long way to securing your farm and your future.”

Essentially, there are six biosecurity management areas that producers can focus on:

  1. Farm inputs: Always request history and supporting paperwork when bringing new animals, feed or bedding onto your property. Whenever possible, isolate new animals for 7-10 days before mixing with existing stock.
  2. People, vehicles & equipment: Restrict access to the property and livestock. Have clear signage. Minimise the number of vehicle entry points to your property. Clean and disinfect tools and equipment on entry and well before use.
  3. Production practices: Inspect your stock as often as you can.  Dispose of any dead stock so that they do not attract feral animals.  Use chemicals as per manufacturer’s instructions and adhere to withholding periods.
  4. Ferals & weeds: Know what pests and weeds are local to your area. Make sure you know what to look for. Remove anything likely to attract pests. Report anything unusual.
  5. Farm outputs: Ensure animals moving off the property are fit and healthy. Ensure records are up to date. Clean vehicles for transport before and after. Don’t share equipment.
  6. Train, plan & record: Become familiar with and use the tools available to help you (eg manuals, declarations and statements, checklists). Ensure staff are appropriately trained to identify sick or injured animals.