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

Buying online? Buyer beware

October 13, 2011

Sheep sale yardWith online shopping becoming a major rival to traditional retailers and services such as AuctionsPlus becoming ever more popular, it seems that livestock trading is increasingly getting in on the game.But what does buying or selling online mean for the health of your animals and what are the potential biosecurity risks to your farming operation?

When it comes to biosecurity, online purchasing can be something of double-edged sword.

On the one hand, with stock from different properties in close proximity to one another, saleyards represent a much higher biosecurity risk than purchasing direct off property due to the threat of animal-to-animal infection. On the other, buying ‘sight unseen’ prevents the purchaser from closely inspecting the animals on offer.

Duncan Rowland, Manager of Biosecurity Planning and Implementation at Animal Health Australia, says that when it comes to buying livestock, it’s best not to trust photos, videos or even your own eyes.

“Animals can carry diseases and pests without showing any physical signs,” Mr Rowland said. “And we know that one of the main ways for disease, weeds and pests to enter a property is through new arrivals. For these reasons, a National Vendor Declaration and relevant animal health statement is the best health insurance for your existing stock.”

“Buyers should not be afraid to insist on the right paperwork; then check it to make sure the animals you have received are the ones you bought. However, it’s also equally important to properly isolate and monitor new stock before introducing them to the rest of the herd or flock – we recommend a period of 10 days. This will allow any signs of disease to emerge and for the animals to empty their stomachs of any weed seeds they may be carrying.”

“To achieve real quarantine you have to have a buffer. The surrounding yards or paddocks must be free of animals or the isolation area must be double-fenced. There can be no nose-to-nose contact,” Mr Rowland said.

When buying stock online:

  • be careful not to purchase disease
  • always ask for a National Vendor Declaration and animal health statement
  • buy from a trusted source
  • ask your agent’s advice
  • inspect closely on arrival – before and after unloading
  • isolate for 10 days
  • upload to NLIS – as a buyer this is your responsibility.