SHEEP producers in Esperance and Ravensthorpe and cattle producers in the Great Southern have the opportunity to join a surveillance network and keep up-to-date with livestock health issues in their area.
The project, facilitated by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), uses SMS technology to help protect Western Australia's biosecurity and livestock markets.
It is recommencing for the 2021 calendar year, following a successful pilot program.
DPIRD veterinary officer Kristine Rayner said the networks aimed to provide members with updated information about health issues occurring in these regions, while strengthening WA's ability to more rapidly detect new or exotic diseases and supporting market access.
"These networks have benefits both for local producers and for animal health surveillance in Western Australia," Dr Rayner said.
"Producer members will receive a regular surveillance report for their region, which will help members make informed onfarm decisions that improve animal health and production.
"WA has a reputation for producing healthy livestock and our animal health surveillance system helps to prove that our livestock are free from diseases to support our ability to sell livestock both here and overseas.
"These surveillance networks are designed to strengthen this system."
Network members will participate in a short series of SMS text messages each fortnight asking if they have seen any illness in their sheep or cattle.
"This information will be collated in monthly reports outlining what illnesses have been occurring in their area, what the common causes were and what they might be able do about them," Dr Rayner said.
"Members who report signs of illness in their sheep or cattle can request a follow-up phone call from a DPIRD vet to discuss their health queries."
DPIRD previously ran a successful pilot SMS network for cattle producers, which was co-funded by the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
"Producers involved found the network provided valuable information that was relevant to their businesses and the data supports the biosecurity status of the WA livestock industry," Dr Rayner said.
"It's exciting to be able to extend this program and also provide the same opportunity for sheep producers in Esperance and Ravensthorpe."
- More information: go to agric.wa.gov.au/sms-livestock-surveillance