Victorian grain growers Dave and Jenny Morrison have found that the biosecurity practices required of their diversification into raising ducks are also benefiting their grain operations.
Dave and Jenny Morrison from Netherby, in the Wimmera, own 607 hectares (1500 acres) and share farm another 607 hectares.
They crop cereals barley and wheat, have a flock of 500 ewes and fat lambs and also have a growing shed for ducks.
They are among the 28 contract growers and duck breeders in the Wimmera region for Luv-A-Duck, a family-owned Australian company. The company has strict hygiene protocols for contractors, who are audited against biosecurity, welfare and productivity standards.
The diversification has raised the profile of biosecurity for the Morrisons; disease presents a clear and immediate threat to the ducks. Wild birds in particular are a constant disease risk.
“You’ve got to look after the birds,” says Dave Morrison. “If they don’t get sick, they are happy birds and the product is better.”
The focus on biosecurity has also transferred to the Morrisons’ other farming operations. Dave’s number one biosecurity tip is cleanliness. “The cleaner you are, the better off you’ll be. And what works for ducks, works for other livestock and for cropping too.”
Victorian Grains Biosecurity Officer Jim Moran says adopting farm biosecurity practices may require a shift in thinking for some people.
“For grain growers with livestock, particularly poultry, biosecurity is often a much higher priority threat than in cropping-only enterprises, although pests and disease are just as much a threat to crops”.
“Farm biosecurity is essential to protect the grains industry and for that matter every other agricultural industry.”
Jim says while it often takes time and a little effort to incorporate good biosecurity measures, it rarely costs much money. There are specific protocols required for duck producers, but many of the principles and practices are transferable to any farming operation.