Keep a weather eye on biosecurity

26 Mar, 2015 11:28 AM
Local biosecurity officers may be able to assist farmers to deal with displaced stock

SEVERE storms can have negative impacts on livestock health, welfare and biosecurity, warns the Livestock Biosecurity Network (LBN).

With the movement of ex-Tropical Cyclone Nathan into the Timor Sea, showers and storms will continue over Carpentaria Coastal Rivers, bringing falls of up to 30 millimetres.

Meanwhile, widespread rainfall totals of between 30 and 50mm were recorded in the Katherine River catchment since 9.00am Wednesday.

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  • Totals around 50mm, with isolated totals of 100mm, have been recorded in the Waterhouse River catchment above Beswick in the past 24 hours, and contributed to current flooding in the Waterhouse River.

    According to the Bureau of Meteorology, these falls have contributed to flooding across the Territory, which may affect road access, and some communities may become or remain isolated.

    Before the onset of significant weather events, livestock producers are reminded to be prepared for the biosecurity impact of cyclones, storms and floods.

    Severe weather can result in water contamination, damage to crops and pastures, loss of livestock and increased susceptibility of livestock to disease.

    Better livestock outcomes

    Pre-planning can result in a better outcome for the health and safety of livestock owners and their animals, according to LBN northern Australia regional officer Dr Sarah-Jane Wilson.

    “An emergency action plan can help manage livestock during an emergency, allowing livestock owners to prioritise the actions that need to be taken.

    “For example, clean water, suitable fodder and a safe environment are priorities in the early stages after an emergency event,” Dr Wilson said.

    Finding displaced stock and re-homing stray stock is also critical, and relies on having effective traceability systems in place.

    “To maintain the integrity of life-long traceability, and in case of disease outbreaks in the aftermath of a natural disaster, it’s essential to be able to trace sheep and cattle.

    “Local biosecurity officers may be able to assist farmers to deal with displaced stock if there are not straightforward solutions to livestock identification issues,” Dr Wilson said.

    After a natural disaster, it’s also important to consider livestock injury management - traumatic injuries may require treatment and in severe cases animals may need to be euthanised, she said.

    “Carcase disposal should be attended to as soon as possible - carcases in the vicinity of living livestock pose a health hazard and encourage predators to the area.

    “However, undertaking this task may prove a challenge if faced with mud, tangled fencing or high water levels,” she said.

    It is common to see a spike in disease in livestock post-natural disaster, including gastro-intestinal issues from unsafe drinking water, skin and hoof conditions, and infectious transmissible diseases such as Leptospirosis and Botulism.

    In addition, increased insect activity can also occur in wet and muddy conditions, which can cause intense irritation and spread diseases such as Pinkeye, Three-Day Sickness and Akabane.

    LBN regional officers can assist producers with forward planning to help identify and manage risks during a natural disaster.

    The organisation plays a key role in a national network of government and industry partners helping protect livestock industries from emergency animal disease and improve on-farm biosecurity.

    To find out more about Livestock Biosecurity Network, contact Northern Australia LBN regional officer Dr Sarah-Jane Wilson on 0437 725 877 or visit the LBN website.

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    John NIven
    26/03/2015 12:45:12 PM

    Nothing about the poor bloody stock owner. He just gets bashed from pillar to post complying with red tape. Stockowners know what to do, they can't necessarily afford it.


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