IT’S National Farm Safety Week and this year veterinarians are asking farmers to consider how they can better prevent, detect and manage animal diseases on their farms.
According to president of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) Dr Paula Parker, a range of diseases pose a risk to the health of animals, such as Salmonellosis and Johne’s disease, but there are also zoonotic diseases that can pass from animals to humans.
These threats to human health include Hendra virus, Q fever and leptospirosis.
“Resilience, health and safety in the agricultural community involves human health, animal health and sustainable and robust agricultural businesses,” Dr Parker said.
“Veterinarians work with farmers every day to identify biosecurity, animal and human health risks and advise on systems to prevent, monitor, and manage diseases in their livestock.
“A disease outbreak in a herd or flock comes at enormous short- and long-term costs to agricultural businesses. Prevention and risk management is essential to protecting livestock against disease,” she said.
Healthy and profitable
Farm Safety Week is a timely reminder of the need to have disease management plans in place.
It comes in the wake of significant on-farm biosecurity issues across the region, including the positive Hendra diagnosis on a farm at Tamborine Mountain, and the devastation wrought on Logan River prawn farms by white spot disease.
Australian Cattle Veterinarians, a special interest group of the AVA, has developed Biocheck, a new biosecurity plan that helps farmers to identify major risks to their farm and develop management plans.
“As every farm is unique, it’s important for farmers to work closely with their veterinarian to ensure they have considered the risks specific to their farm. This allows them to then take a proactive approach to minimising these risks,” Dr Parker said.
According to Dr Parker, a focus on biosecurity as well as the prevention and control of animal diseases on farms also plays a key role in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
“By improving disease prevention, we can significantly reduce the need for antibiotic use in sick animals,” she said.
“Australia is a global leader with respect to low-level of use of antibiotics in animals, and while this a great achievement we cannot afford to become complacent in our fight against antibiotic resistance.
“Australia must maintain a healthy and profitable agricultural sector and by limiting the impact of diseases on our livestock, we’re not only ensuring the health and welfare of Australia’s animals but we are also ensuring farmers continue to operate resilient and robust businesses,” she said.
The theme of this year’s Farm Safety Week is ‘creating a resilient, safe and healthy Ag community’.