Buying from a closed herd or flock is an excellent biosecurity practice that can greatly reduce the risk of introducing unwanted pests or diseases. However, there are important checks to undertake when purchasing from a closed flock or herd and producers are being reminded to be vigilant, do their homework and measure the risks.
Animal Health Australia’s (AHA) Manager Endemic Diseases, Dr Lorna Citer said buyers should do their own investigations and be clear about the ‘closed’ status of the animals they wish to purchase.
“A closed herd or flock means that there must be absolutely no live animal introductions into that group of animals. This includes introducing rams, bulls or bucks for the purpose of breeding.
“If a producer wants to increase their stock’s genetic diversity and they are claiming to run a closed herd or flock, then the herd or flock manager should be breeding their own seed stock replacements or has incorporated an artificial insemination program. As soon as another animal comes into contact with the existing closed group there is an immediate risk of disease exposure and that group of animals can no longer be considered ‘closed’.
“When purchasing from closed herds or flocks, buyers should be familiar with the seller and their reputation and they should also request any associated records and disease declarations.
“Regardless of what stock producers are buying, purchasing through an animal accreditation scheme such as the Market Assurance Program (MAP) and insisting on a National Animal Health Statement are important tactics to help safeguard your own biosecurity. It only takes one poor animal health decision to undo years of careful biosecurity planning,” Dr Citer said.
AHA’s Executive Manager, Biosecurity, Duncan Rowland said producers should always undertake a risk calculation when buying new stock.
“Buying from a reliable seller, with a fully closed herd or flock, is your best option and carries the lowest risk of introducing a new pest or disease into your property. If buying from a closed herd or flock is not feasible, your next best, but slightly riskier option, is to buy from a ‘semi-closed’ herd or flock where there are limited introductions of new animals.
“If producers are looking to purchase stock from a property that has no controls that limit the frequency, type and origins of animals coming onto a property, they should carefully consider the risks, which naturally, are far greater than the first two options,” Mr Rowland said.