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

Farm inputs

Almost anything moved onto your property can be a potential source of pests and diseases for livestock and plants. To reduce the biosecurity risks to your property monitor animals or plant materials that enter the property, including sources of water, feed and fertiliser.

You have an important role to play in protecting your region and the entire industry from biosecurity threats. Keep records of all farm inputs (and outputs) so that you can trace-back or trace-forward in the event of a pest incursion or disease outbreak.


There is a high potential for diseases, pests and weeds to be carried in feed and water supplies. To protect the health of your livestock or crops it is important to minimise the risks associated with feed and water.

Purchasing feed

Ensure all feed purchased is free from unwanted weeds, soil and pests.

  • Always request a Commodity Vendor Declaration (CVD) and ensure any feed you purchase is fit for purpose.
  • Ensure you know the expiry date of any feed you purchase and use it before that date or dispose of it safely.
  • Inspect feed to ensure that it does not contain a high ratio of weed seeds that could propagate on the property.

Fork lift in feed storageFeed storage

Poor feed storage encourages pests and diseases which may contaminate feed or reduce its usefulness. Old feed can harbour disease organisms and pests that may be harmful to your livestock.

  • Keep feed in a clean, dry storage area.
  • Keep feed stores covered to prevent feed from becoming wet and mouldy.
  • Regularly inspect feed supplies to ensure they remain secured and fit for purpose.
  • Clean feed troughs regularly to avoid faecal contamination
  • Dispose of old or contaminated feed safely, keeping it away from livestock and securing it from pests and diseases.
  • Clean any feed spills promptly to prevent spread around the property by wind or other means (vehicle wheels, clothing etc.)

Restricted animal material

Feeding restricted animal material (RAM) to ruminants is illegal in Australia as it is linked to the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or Mad Cow disease)

  • Do not feed RAM to ruminants at all.
  • Be aware of all materials on the restricted list.
  • Always check the labels of any feed purchased and ensure it is fit for purpose. Store feed that contains RAM separately from feed that is appropriate for ruminants.
  • Ensure all staff are aware of the RAM ban.
  • Prevent visitors or passers-by from feeding livestock.
  • Always ask for a Commodity Vendor Declaration that states the feed is free of RAM and chemical/physical contaminants.

Swill feeding

Swill feeding is a dangerous practice which has led to the spread of diseases such as foot and mouth disease (FMD) in many countries and is illegal in Australia. Swill can be broadly defined as material of mammal origin or any substance that has come in contact with this material.

  • Do not feed pigs swill of any kind.
  • Ensure all staff are aware swill feeding is illegal.
  • Prevent visitors orpassers-by from feeding livestock.

Washing and packing mangoesWater supply and storage

Many pests and diseases can survive for a long time in water until they find another host, so it is important to ensure water remains uncontaminated.

  • In addition, diseases, pests and weed seeds are easily distributed by flowing water.
  • Regularly inspect water sources and ensure they are secured from access by wild/feral animals.
  • Keep water troughs high enough to minimise contamination by animal faeces.
  • Clean water troughs regularly to prevent build up of contaminants.
  • Cover water sources where possible to prevent faecal contamination by wild animals.
  • Don’t allow water to stagnate as it may attract insects and other pests that can spread disease.
  • Regularly inspect any water storage tanks to ensure they have not been compromised by wild/feral animals or chemically contaminated.
  • Ensure weed seeds and pests cannot gain access to secure areas of the property through water distribution channels.
  • Check areas around waterways for new weeds.
  • Increase monitoring for new weeds after flooding

Recycled water

Recycled water can come from roof run-off, stormwater, agricultural effluent (e.g. dairy sheds or piggeries), irrigation run-off, or wastewater from food processing and wineries.

The quality of recycled water is defined using a class rating system, usually from A to D. Class A water is produced using high levels of treatment and is generally suitable for use on irrigated pastures, fruit, vegetables and wine grapes. Class D water is suitable for irrigating non-food crops, such as turf or plantations.

The A-D classification system is based on treatments to destroy microbes. It does not consider other contaminants, such as salt, chemicals or nutrients, which can also affect the health of plants and livestock.

  • Follow all legal requirements in relation to the reuse of wastewater reuse.
  • Use signs and lable taps to warn others about the use of recycled water.
  • Use purple coloured pipe or tape, the universal standard for recycled water.
  • Make sure pumps etc are secure and access to them is restricted.
  • Avoid over irrigating and creating runoff.
  • Use drip irrigation for recycled water where possible to avoid aerosol formation
  • Avoid contamination of marketable produce.
  • Keep records of treatments, procedures and irrigation regimes.
  • Observe withholding periods for fodder crops. The withholding period depends on the treatment the wastewater has received and the type of use.
  • Make sure livestock cannot drink from pool water contaminated with wastewater or from wastewater storage dams.
  • Warn employees to avoid exposure to waste water, to wash their hands and remove boots etc after contact.
  • Prevent algal blooms by aerating or treating water that is high in nutrients and is stored in dams.
  • Prevent young and vulnerable stock from grazing pastures irrigated with recycled effluent for the ‘withholding period’ after each irrigation.
  • Use filtration, UV radiation or chlorination to treat water to prevent the spread of plant diseases in recycled drainage water.

Cattle saleNew animals, plants and other inputs

New animals entering the property

Animals can carry diseases and pests without necessarily showing any signs, so it is important to manage the introduction of new animals carefully to avoid infecting the rest of your stock. Treating individual animals is cheaper and easier than managing a new disease in all stock on your property. Manage new and returning stock in a similar fashion.

  • Always request a National Vendor Declaration (NVD) and animal health statement and any other records of the stock’s health status.
  • Keep a record of where the livestock have come from. This may involve uploading information to the NLIS database as well.
  • Buy stock from a trusted source and inspect them before you purchase.
  • Be aware of the cleaning and hygiene practices of the transport provider/s.
  • Inspect stock on arrival to make sure they are healthy and in the same condition as when you purchased them; seek advice from a vet if necessary.
  • Isolate new stock for a period of 21 days to allow any signs of disease to emerge, and to allow time for weed seeds to be excreted by the animals. Monitor and manage these areas for new pests and diseases.
  • When taking animals to shows and sales, remember that your stock can be exposed to disease by mixing with other animals or coming into contact with contaminated pens, vehicles, people and equipment.

Planting and propagation material

Visually assessing the health of your planting material is not enough, as it can carry diseases, pests or weed seeds that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Therefore, additional steps need to be taken to ensure the health of any plant material that is brought onto, or taken off, your property. To ensure good hygiene, please follow the recommended measures outlined in the Production practices section of this website.

  • Source certified seed or propagation material.
  • Request a vendor declaration form or equivalent, where possible.
  • Only purchase plant material from sources that take biosecurity, hygiene, health testing and record keeping seriously.
  • Ask your supplier where the propagation material was originally sourced.
  • Inspect materials when they arrive and store away from other plant products.
  • Ensure the transport provider for planting material follows the cleaning and hygiene practices in place on your property.
  • Keep records of your crop or plantation propagation material, including its source (with contact details), cultivar or rootstock details and where and when it was planted.
  • Regularly check newly planted areas for the appearance of pests or unusual symptoms to ensure any new pests can be contained before spreading to other areas of your property.

Hands in compostGrowing media and plant containers

Pests and contamination can be easily brought onto your property with production nursery inputs and plant material. Ensure propagation material is ‘clean’ (ie tested with no pest detections) and where possible, use only certified production nursery inputs. To minimise the risk:

  • check your propagation material and production nursery inputs thoroughly
  • maintain a register of all production nursery inputs entering your property, including its source (with contact details), specific planting or storage locations, numbers of plants or other products, and the date of use
  • request information on the source of material and testing timetable.

Find out about BioSecure HACCP for production nurseries.


Reduce the risk of purchasing contaminated or non-compliant fertiliser by ensuring that the supplier is following the Fertilizer Industry Federation of Australia (FIFA) Purchasing Code of Practice or has equivalent quality controls in place.

Organic fertiliser can carry weed seeds and diseases. Ensure that animal manure and green waste is aged and thoroughly composted to destroy weed seeds and diseases. Maintain a record of sources of organic fertilisers, delivery and application dates etc.

HALSprayDriftFarm chemicals

Chemical residues can result in produce being rejected from export and domestic markets. In addition, most plant produce ends up being used as human food, even when fed to livestock, so inappropriate use or application of pesticides can pose a risk to human health, particularly through the presence of chemical residues.

  • Ensure your staff has had appropriate training and advice on the safe use of pesticides (for example ChemCert® or SMARTtrain).
  • Always follow label instructions (dilution and application rates, expiry date, disposal of residues).
  • Keep a spray diary of herbicide, pesticide and fumigation treatments for crops and adhere to withholding periods.
  • Check details about regulations for agricultural and veterinary chemicals. These can be found through the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) or from relevant state agencies. (Consult these sources frequently for information regarding chemical regulations as regulations may be updated regularly.)

Mis-use of many types of chemicals can lead to the development of resistance to pests, potentially creating new biosecurity risks and management challenges.