World OIE report sees Aust cattle industry threat in ‘lack of efficient sheep tracing system’

Terry Sim, June 8, 2016
  • OIE logo 2A WORLD Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) report has found that Australia’s cattle industries are threatened by the lack of an efficient tracing system for sheep.

The OIE’s independent report assessing Australia’s Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) scored 38 of the 47 criteria measured at level five, the highest competency level. The remaining criteria were all assessed at either level three or four.

But it also recommended that Australia implement efficient traceability of sheep and monitor cross-jurisdictional movements for improved compliance.

“In general there are excellent identification systems to trace animal history, location and distribution for purposes of animal disease control, food safety, and trade,” the report said.

It said the management of National Livestock Identification Scheme benefits the producer from the information generated, but there is a need to ensure adequate resourcing of jurisdictional oversight and compliance activities relating to traceability to ensure the system remains robust and consistent across Australia.

“However, efficient traceability in sheep is lacking at the moment and it is hoped that electronic identification will become the norm as soon as possible.

“It was highlighted that tracing of sheep via sale yards was difficult and time-consuming.”

The report said Australia’s cattle industries had spent a lot of money on developing a very good system which could be jeopardised by lack of an efficient tracing system for sheep.

“There has been a review on this and the recommendation was that the present system has to be improved.”

In the report, the international OIE evaluators recognised the widespread understanding of the importance of biosecurity across Australia.

Victoria’s chief veterinary officer Dr Charles Milne said the OIE is the global body that sets health standards for international trade in animals and animal products.

“More than 130 countries, including many of Australia’s major trade competitors, have been assessed by the OIE against the same standards.

“The report’s findings show how our robust veterinary systems underpin our high animal health status, which in turn reflects the success we have in accessing international markets,” Dr Milne said.

Livestock producer and chair of Victoria’s Sheep and Goats Identification Advisory Committee Stuart McLean, said the evaluation results highlight Australia’s extraordinary commitment to biosecurity.

“The very high level of biosecurity recognises the collaborative approach to maintaining our animal disease status by building strong collaboration between the states and territories, and with the livestock industry, including primary producers and processors.

“Our livestock industries in Victoria generate exports of $6.7 billion a year, so it’s essential that we have the best possible biosecurity measures in place to safeguard this vital trade,” Mr McLean said

“The OIE report states that Australia has excellent identification systems available to trace animal history, location and distribution for the purposes of animal disease control, food safety and trade.

“However, the report also highlights that there is room for improvement in sheep and goat traceability by Australian producers – this could be addressed by increasing the use of electronic identification of sheep and goats.”

Click this link to read the full OIE PVS report

Recent Exercise Odysseus also identified key actions needed

The final report of the recent Exercise Odysseus also identified a number of key findings to inform subsequent action by government and industry to enhance Australia’s preparedness to manage the threat of Foot and Mouth Disease, should it occur in Australia.

The final report from Exercise Odysseus has been released today, providing a positive assessment of Australia’s most significant foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) response exercise.

Head of Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Lyn O’Connell, said the exercise supported important improvements that will strengthen the nation’s FMD preparedness.

“FMD is the most significant disease threat to our livestock industries and we are very fortunate to be free from it.

“It was estimated that a medium to large outbreak of FMD in Australia could cost the Australian economy more than AUD$50 billion over ten years,” Ms O’Connell said.

“Australia already has well-established biosecurity systems that safeguard our industry and environment from diseases like FMD, but these systems are backed by continual improvement and the best-available evidence.

“As the final report highlights, Exercise Odysseus has supported industry and government to be better prepared to successfully implement and manage a national livestock standstill, which is a key part of our strategy to eradicate FMD, if there was an incursion.”

Ms O’Connell said there is also now an increased awareness among potentially affected stakeholders of the importance, roles and potential impacts of a national livestock standstill and an outbreak of FMD.

“This means that Australia is now better prepared to manage an outbreak and safeguard our industries and environment from this damaging disease.”

Outbreaks overseas have demonstrated that movements of livestock can spread FMD over long distances. A national livestock standstill in Australia would involve restricting movements of susceptible animals, including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and other species, for at least 72 hours after the detection of FMD.

Exercise Odysseus involved more than 1600 people from government, industry and non-government organisations who took part in 48 activities throughout Australia in 2014-15.

The final report is available online at



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