SOUTH Australian sheep producers have until 15 January next year to have their say on footrot management in the state via an online survey.
The launch of the survey follows the restriction of access to weekly Naracoorte and Mount Gambier sales to terminal sheep only for the 2023/24 Spring lamb season – with no inspections for footrot by Department of Primary Industries and Regions’ staff.
The footrot management changes followed concerns that PIRSA’s rigorous footrot control program was forcing producers to send stock for sale in Victorian markets.
About four months after the new saleyard footrot regimen was implemented, Livestock SA is now seeking the views of the state’s sheep producers on the SA Footrot Management Program. The findings will be used to guide the future of footrot management in South Australia, Livestock SA said.
Livestock SA President Joe Keynes noted that while the annual investment exceeding $900,000 by South Australian sheep producers has historically been deemed appropriate, inquiries from members and the industry regarding the program’s effectiveness have prompted this comprehensive review.
Livestock SA said the aim of the program review is to ensure that the ongoing investment continues to yield positive and effective outcomes for footrot management in the state.
Livestock SA has engaged independent consultants Dr Ron Glanville and Sapere to review the existing program and alternative strategies that may yield better outcomes for a future program.
“Sheep farming systems across the South Australian regions are diverse, as are the opinions on how footrot should be managed,” Mr Keynes said.
“Our goal is to get a range of perspectives to encompass as many of these viewpoints as we can and ensure that the future program aligns with the needs and preferences of industry participants.”
The work has been made possible by the Sheep Industry Fund and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions.
Mr Keynes said the current saleyard inspection regimen would remain in place into early 2024.
“There is no date on the notice for it to end, but it won’t be extended for the 2024/2025 sales without further consultation, which we are doing.”
Immediate past chairman of the Naracoorte Combined Agents Josh Reeves said the changed saleyard inspection system at Naracoorte and Mt Gambier saleyards had worked well.
“Our numbers (in the saleyards) have been substantially higher for sheep and lambs; mutton has certainly been the big driver and it hasn’t affected buyer confidence.”
Mr Reeves said the inspection changes was aligning the SA saleyards to the eastern states.
“It is the only way for the saleyards to stay viable in the south-east (of South Australia), otherwise stock will continue to go over the border.”
The survey will be open until January 15 and can be completed here: www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZV8LJYC