CATTLE producers in the shires of Albany, Denmark and Plantagenet have the opportunity to join a new cattle surveillance network and keep up to date with cattle health issues in the area.
The project, facilitated by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), will initially run until April 2019.
The pilot network is trialling SMS technology to help protect Western Australia’s biosecurity and livestock markets.
DPIRD veterinary officer Andrew Larkins said the data collected during the Great Southern Cattle Surveillance Network pilot would assist in ensuring market access for WA cattle and cattle products.
“Western Australia has a reputation for producing healthy cattle and this is based on a biosecurity system that demonstrates to a scientific standard that our stock are fit to trade,” Dr Larkins said.
“This new pilot network helps to strengthen this system while also giving valuable feedback to producers in the form of local information on causes of illness.”
Dr Larkins said that members of the Great Southern Cattle Surveillance Network will participate in a short series of SMS text messages each fortnight asking if they have seen any signs of illness in their cattle.
“Members will then receive monthly reports outlining what cattle illnesses have been occurring in the area, what the common causes were and what they might be able do about them,” he said.
“Members who report signs of illness in their cattle can request a follow-up phone call. The purpose of the call is to learn more about the case and discuss what support we may be able provide. This might include services such as disease investigations and post-mortem sampling to try and get a definite diagnosis on the case or it may be to refer them to their local private vet.”
Sheena Smith, a beef producer and ag event co-ordinator from Narrikup, is an industry advocate assisting in the coordination of the network.
“I see the network as a great opportunity for cattle producers to learn more about the diseases that might be causing trouble on their farm and in the region and what management changes can be put in place to minimise the immediate impact,” Ms Smith said.
“This will also help with future herd management and minimise the chance of it happening again.
“The monthly reports provided by DPIRD are a chance for producers to have a look at what illnesses have been occurring in their region as a whole and compare that to what is going on at home.
“This information enables producers to assess their biosecurity measures early and protect their herd.”
A recent trial of 25 local cattle producers from each of the three shires has helped to develop the network and provided feedback that it is simple and easy to use.
The project has been jointly funded by DPIRD and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
Producers can visit agric.wa.gov.au and search ‘Great Southern cattle’ for more information.