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Protecting yourself against Foot and Mouth Disease and Lumpy Skin Disease. Have you acted on precautionary biosecurity plan?

By Tahlia Ferguson, Research and Extension, Soils, Pasture & Livestock Team

Walking through the Australian Sheep and Wool Show sheds for the first time in two years was exciting and long awaited, as not only are these show rings where I began my career in Agriculture as a year 9 student, but sheep producers were finally able to come together in person for the popular event once again. Not only was it good to catch up with old friends, meet new farmers to discuss SFS projects, and even get on the halter end of a stud ewe for the first time in six years in the Southdown classes, it was obvious how the show was a great opportunity for all attendees to have a fun few days out away from the farm. However, in the back of every livestock producers minds now is the two acronyms that could devastate generations of genetic selections and farming history if they reach our shores and our livestock events.

Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) are unfortunately the ‘talk of the industry’ currently, and for very good reason. FMD has been detected in Indonesia, and more importantly the popular holiday destination Bali. Highly contagious, and affecting cattle, sheep, goats, camelids, deer, and pigs, FMD would have a severe impact on the Australian red meat industry. While LSD has never occurred in Australia, it has been detected in countries close to Australia such as Indonesia, and cattle producers should be aware of its symptoms. The best way to prepare your farm if FMD or LSD reach our shores is to educate yourselves, your staff, and your family on the signs of infection in your livestock. Early detection will be the key to preventing wide outbreaks across the industry. Check out the Animal Health Australia, MLA, and Australian Government websites for educational information.

Traceability of livestock will be important in tracking the movement of livestock across properties and saleyards, so make sure all your animals have an NLIS or eID tag, and that your NVD documents are up to date with the current format. Now is also the time to be checking and updating your farm biosecurity plans and making sure that visitor vehicle access to yards is reduced on your property. Disinfectant footbaths for all visitors and workers are a good prevention implementation, along with making sure all contracted livestock trucks and trailers are clean and disinfected before entering your property.

How to report either of these diseases: call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch hotline on 1900 657 888 or contact your veterinarian.

Staying updated:
Last week there was a scare that caused panic nationwide due to some attention-grabbing headlines, which caused people to think that FMD has finally reached our shores. In reality there was only small fragments of the disease detected in an imported pork product and not the live virus, but until you read the article carefully you would think that the nightmare was beginning. Being aware of updates is very important, but please read articles and news updates carefully to get the correct information, as an attention-grabbing headline, while effective, doesn’t tell us the whole story. If you or someone you know is struggling with the thought of FMD or LSD outbreaks in Australia, please reach out to organisations such as BeyondBlue, LifeLine, and HeadSpace.

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