Simple measures offer biosecurity protection | Beef + Lamb New Zealand
Animal Health

Simple measures offer biosecurity protection

The discovery of Mycoplasma bovis in this country is serving as a reminder for farmers to implement on-farm biosecurity practices to protect their businesses and livelihoods, and those of their neighbours.
Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Beef + Lamb New Zealand, in conjunction with Ministry for Primary Industries and other industry stakeholders, have a number of resources to help farmers put together a farm biosecurity plan.

The first of this four part-series looks at preventing contact with diseased or contaminated animals and the importance of good animal health management practices.

Direct contact between healthy and infected animals is the quickest and easiest way for pests and diseases to spread.

Farmers should try and determine the health status of animals before purchase and only buy livestock from suppliers who can provide information about animal health history and treatments. As a minimum, upon arrival on the home farm animals should be drenched and kept in a quarantine area for 24 hours. Quarantine areas should be as close to the farm entrance as possible and well away from other livestock.

Ideally, new stock should be kept in a separate paddock for seven days before being integrated with other animals. There should a be double-fenced, gap between new and existing stock sufficient to prevent nose to nose contact. These steps are especially important if buying through saleyards, as animals in saleyards come into close contact with many stock from different sources so represent a particularly high biosecurity risk.

To prevent your stock coming into noise-to-nose contact with neighbours’ stock, also ensure boundary fences are well-maintained and check them regularly for gaps, loose wires and other faults.

Farmers who may be removing stock temporarily – for shows or other events – need to consider the likelihood of their animals coming into close contact with other stock. If concerned or unsure about the risk of contracting or spreading disease, these animals should be put through the quarantine procedure as when introducing new stock onto the farm.

Most importantly, farmers need to ensure they comply with their legal requirements to accurately complete – or maintain copies of – Animal Status Declarations for every livestock movement onto and off the farm.

With deer and cattle, farmers also need to comply with their NAIT obligations by recording movements. This information is vital when it comes to sourcing exotic diseases or food contamination.

Disease prevention and control often comes down to good stockmanship and livestock management.

An animal health plan, developed in conjunction with a vet, will determine the drench and vaccination programmes for the year for the different stock classes on the farm.

Where appropriate, farmers should consider buying breeding stock with a high breeding value for disease resistance.

Veterinary assistance should be sought at the first signs of ill-health in livestock and individual animals should be immediately isolated and treated appropriately.

When using veterinary medicines, it is important to follow the correct guidelines and observe with-holding periods.

Contaminated vaccination, drenching and animal handling equipment can all spread disease. Follow veterinary advice and best-practice guidelines around needle and equipment hygiene.

Ensure farm dogs are wormed and vaccinated regularly and prevent other dogs coming onto the farm – they can spread disease.

For more information about Mycoplasma bovis, and to view the resources available to help you develop an on-farm biosecurity plan, visit: