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

Product integrity the top priority for WA wheatbelt award finalist

September 7, 2012

Ivan-RogersAs a major supplier of cattle for live export, market access and product integrity are never far from Ivan Rogers’ mind.

Mr Rogers is the principal of Kylagh, a 4200ha mixed farming enterprise based at Tammin in Western Australia’s Western Wheatbelt, incorporating a feedlot which generates the majority of farm income. Making biosecurity central to all aspects of his cattle finishing business has seen him named as a finalist in the 2012 livestock Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Award.

Ivan Rogers says the company’s biosecurity plan is integral to the supply of slaughter cattle to exporters and local WA processors, and gives his customers confidence that the cattle are being prepared at minimum risk of biosecurity breaches. “Consumer and customer confidence in the biosecurity of any food production system, especially livestock, is paramount,” he says.

Kylagh was a registered AQIS export depot from 2004 to 2011, enforcing mandatory biosecurity measures such as visitor risk analysis, managing people and vehicle movements.

“That was the front door,” Mr Rogers recalls. “The back door involves checking cattle on a regular basis to ensure any diseases could be detected. “We also conducted a thorough property risk assessment, focusing on chemical residues in particular to make sure that cattle do not have contact with any potentially contaminated land and taking action where necessary,” he says.

Now focused on the domestic market, Kylagh’s stringent biosecurity regime is linked with the Livestock Production Assurance Scheme, the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme, animal welfare requirements and environmental stewardship.

Ivan Rogers sees bluetongue as a significant disease risk to his feedlot when sourcing rangeland cattle from Australia’s northern bluetongue-declared zone. “It’s a matter of moving those cattle from the north to the south and monitoring them for any signs of disease as part of export requirements,” he says. “But I’m happy to report that we’ve never had a disease outbreak.

“With feed, we ensure it contains  no restricted animal material (RAM). This is particularly important when purchasing vegetable oil – which we use as a feed supplement – this must come with a declaration that it contains no RAM.”

Duncan Rowland, Executive Manager of Biosecurity Services at Animal Health Australia, said Kylagh has established clear guidelines on farm to enable the multitude of visitors and varied operations to continue while minimising risk.

“Ivan Rogers is an advocate for programs that allow clear traceability and adherence to biosecurity in order to protect regional and international trade,” Mr Rowland said. “He is a strong contender for the award because of his determination to have clear requirements around production systems to protect market access and product integrity.”

Ivan Rogers believes livestock production has become very holistic, with different aspects crossing all the time. “I think this is quite exciting actually,” he adds. “Sometimes biosecurity can be seen as a separate part of a beef production scheme that people have to address, but in reality it actually links in with a whole lot of things.

“If we take the helicopter view, we need to look at not only protecting the industry from major diseases like FMD, screw worm fly or bluetongue – because an outbreak of any of those would have a devastating impact – but also at market access for export and the integrity of the product. “It’s about meeting the client’s requirements. I think food safety is right at the top of consumers’ concerns, so we have to be able to demonstrate that we have a rigorous program to ensure biosecurity, animal welfare and freedom from chemical contamination.”

Hosted by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural, and sponsored by Plant Health Australia and Animal Health Australia, the Biosecurity Farmer of the Year award is part of the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards. It recognises the efforts of producers dedicated to keeping their operations free of diseases, pests and weeds.

Winners of all categories in the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Melbourne on 12 September.