THE change to WA's Ovine Johne's disease (OJD) status from low to very low last week is likely to have little impact on WA's sheep trade with other states according to WA's Stud Merino Breeders vice president Neil Jackson.
The national Animal Health Committee amended WA's status from a very low prevalence area to a low prevalence area after OJD was discovered on 18 properties in WA between November 2003 and June 2004.
The new low status will allow sheep to be brought into WA from flocks in other states with the same OJD risk score as WA.
Currently South Australia, Queensland and parts of New South Wales have a very low prevalence area status. Other parts of New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and now Western Australia have a low status. While some areas in New South Wales and Flinders Island have a high prevalence status.
Mr Jackson, a member of the OJD Advisory Committee, said farmers needed to consider risk management for OJD as part of an overall biosecurity plan regardless of risk rating.
But he was not too concerned with the change in WA's status.
"It probably shouldn't have too much effect," he said.
"All bar Queensland are no different to us, they've all got OJD.
³Stud sheep will still keep coming in to WA provided they're from a low or very low OJD zone.
Sheep have been going to the east with WA's very low status, and that probably won't stop."
Mr Jackson said there had been discussions with other states and said WA's OJD status had to be changed.
"We can't have greater restrictions on other states over and above what we have within the state," he said.
"It's been discussed and that's the way it had to be."
But Mr Jackson said breeders should be asking for animal health statements when buying sheep from other states, which will assist in controlling the importation of the disease from infected flocks.
"If you're a stud breeder you should be asking for an animal health statement. It's quite a comprehensive sort if checklist," he said.
"The health statement shows vaccinations, fecal cultures and what zone the animal comes from."