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

Spending ‘Farm Day’ with the experts

October 19, 2011

Rod and Helena HoareFarm Day – the annual event in May when city comes to country. When distinctly under-informed but curious city dwellers visit Australia’s welcoming farmers to get their boots dirty and learn where their food really comes from. Being into all things animal health, Farm Biosecurity News leaped on the opportunity to spend Farm Day on a property owned and managed by two experts in the field.

Dr Rod Hoare and Helena Warren run ‘Cadfor’ at Binda near Crookwell, in the NSW Southern Highlands, where they breed Murray Grey cattle and some horses on 330 acres. They focus on producing quality seed stock for stud and commercial cattle buyers and own some of the top bulls in the breed.

Before becoming a full-time farmer, Rod was the NSW State Equine Veterinary Officer. He was also the Quarantine Manager during the 2000 Olympics and worked as the Industry Liaison Officer at Orange during the 2007 equine influenza outbreak. Helena is an Accredited Riding Instructor whose interests are eventing and dressage, and who now runs the riding school and horse management clinics at Cadfor.

With some 20 horses on the property, and the horses of riding students coming, going and staying over constantly, biosecurity is of fundamental importance to Cadfor’s everyday operations. “Any biosecurity plan has to start with a very clear property plan – it’s no good trying to modify it later,” says Rod. “One of the main things about our security strategy is that we have double fencing.” It may be slow, but Rod lists three important advantages to putting in the
double fences and tree lines in addition to their aesthetic value:

  • A disease control advantage (preventing nose-to-nose contact, which can spread diseases like strangles or pestivirus)
  • A weed control advantage (trees and bushes can stop the spread of serrated tussock)
  • A managerial advantage (in keeping various groups of animals separate and creating usable laneways for moving stock and vehicles).

“All of our isolation stables and paddocks have been designed so that when people come and park, their animals are a double-fence away from any other horse around and separate from our cattle yards,” Rod adds, recommending the Queensland Horse Council’s fact sheet, Hendra – Property Design, as a valuable tool in planning the layout of any horse facility.

On the cattle front, Cadfor’s stud breeding herd is protected by minimising the number of introduced animals and careful selection of purchased stock.

“We prefer to buy from a single farm or auction rather than a multi-vendor situation,” Rod says. “I’ve never had anything untoward turn up from one of those, but you could understand that it could, so where you have a single vendor sale you’re more likely to buy an animal that hasn’t been exposed to a whole lot of other animals in the near past.”

The biggest animal health problem has been pulpy kidney disease, with six prime breeding cows struck dead without notice over the past decade. “That’s pretty annoying because it always happens to the best animals – all of them had a fairly young calf too – and that’s despite a pretty good vaccination regime.” Cadfor is now trialing
a different product, which offers 12 months protection from pulpy kidney.