WoolProducers Australia issues sheep biosecurity warning

Terry Sim, November 18, 2020

WPA president Ed Storey

A REPORTED rise in sheep flocks affected by virulent footrot has prompted WoolProducers Australia to warn growers about the importance of good biosecurity.

The peak wool grower representative body is urging sheep producers purchasing stock to ensure the biosecurity credentials of the animals before receival.

The WPA said the recent change in seasonal conditions has meant an increased risk of severe endemic conditions in flocks.

Purchasing new livestock is one of the highest risk activities for introducing disease, pests or parasites into your flock and with the favourable change in season in large parts of eastern Australia, many producers are in the process of restocking, the body said.

WoolProducers president Ed Storey said quarantining any incoming sheep for a reasonable amount of time to observe any symptoms such as lameness is important.

“We are hearing anecdotally of an increase in virulent footrot cases being found, so it is incumbent that purchasers are not introducing unwanted problems into their flock.”

Mr Storey could not name the source of the anecdotal reports, but said with current low flock numbers at a national and property level due to the recent drought in large parts of sheep producing country, sheep purchases are occurring across regional and state lines.

“It is therefore essential that purchasers are confident of the biosecurity risk profile of the sheep that they are buying in.

“The Sheep Health Declaration (SHD) is one tool that can assist in determining this risk, so be sure to ask the vendor for one before purchase.”

WPA said by managing biosecurity decisions at this crucial time there is minimised risk and maximised opportunity for profitability. Endemic diseases and parasites can have a long and expensive impact on sheep flocks once established, the body said.

Woolproducers also reminded vendors they need to fill in the SHD correctly, as there is legal significance when signing this document.

“Flock health history, location, testing previously undertaken and vaccination history are vital pieces of information in making risk-based purchases and should be provided to buyers,” Mr Storey said.

Sheep Central asked NSW DPI for an update on the incidence of virulent footrot in the state, but this was not available when the this story was published.

A copy of the Sheep Health Declaration is available here.


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