Sub-project 2 – April 2020

April 9th, 2020


  • Data collected from livestock producer surveys helped build a model aimed at predicting the vulnerability of producers to an outbreak of FMD. The model can be used to decide how to allocate surveillance resources.
  • The analyses of the sheep, beef and goat models are complete, with successful publication in Preventive Veterinary Medicine about the beef model. View the abstract here. The sheep and goat papers will follow later this year.
  • The beef and sheep models have been field tested with a farming systems group in NSW.
  • The beef and sheep models have been presented at three conferences and have sparked much interest in their usefulness as a tool to focus surveillance efforts using a risk-based approach

Innovation Pilot groups

    1. The Sheep pilot group in Esperance have made significant progress on their surveillance and partnership activities. This includes meeting in Feb 2020 together with the local Natural Resource Management group to enable stronger engagement with smallholders. The previous meeting in September 2019 resulted in excellent feedback from producers which assisted in further development of the abattoir feedback software tools. The flyer developed for smallholders to help them manage their animal responsibilities has been completed and is being prepared for printing and distribution.
    2. The Beef pilot group met for the fifth time at Durong on 13 November 2019. Many core group members were present, including producers who were going through challenging drought conditions. A local producer (who is also a livestock veterinarian) and a local biosecurity officer provided insights on biosecurity surveillance in the area. Adding to the discussion were experienced saleyard managers along with the Land Protection team from North Burnett Regional Council. A key topic of discussion was the preparedness of saleyards for FMD, including the recent standstill exercises at Roma and Gracemere.
    3. The Dairy pilot group in Maffra held its fifth meeting on 14 November 2019 and its sixth meeting on 4 February 2020. The smallholder flyer, on animal ownership identification, tracing and health requirements, developed by the group and discussed in these two meetings, is undergoing further revision for distribution among smallholders. Potential for connecting the Ag Victoria’s Internet of Things (IoT) program and the FMD Ready pilot group for animal health technology uptake was discussed with the coordinator of the Maffra IoT program dairy trial, who attended the fifth meeting. Dairy Australia representatives joined the pilot group in its six meeting. Dairy Australia is interested in working with the pilot group as a reference group for EAD preparedness and biosecurity, thus ensuring future sustainability of the group.
    4. The Pork pilot group in Tasmania held its fifth meeting on 13 December 2019 by video/teleconference. In this meeting, the group discussed ways in which it could establish a formal network with the support of Australian Pork Limited (APL) and the Tasmania Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA). A report on the Small Farms Living Field Days was presented. The Field Day had record attendance and positive engagement with biosecurity, with project-related materials developed and distributed by the pilot group members to attendees. The sixth group meeting, held in Launceston on 13 February, was a great success, resulting in a proposal to form an alliance between the Tasmanian Island Pork Alliance (TIPA) and smallholder producers.
    5. The Goat pilot group met in October 2019 and in March 2020 for their third and fourth meetings respectively. The October meeting featured a presentation by the extensively qualified Dr Sandra Baxendell of Goatvetoz, covering on-farm biosecurity topics for goats such as caprine arthritis encephalitis and Johne’s Disease. At the March meeting, an FMD incursion role-play exercise was conducted by Jeremy Rogers, a vet from Primary Industries and Regions South Australia. Group members were stepped through the process of what might happen in the case of an FMD incursion on their property or nearby. At both meetings, members worked on progressing a number of group initiatives, including a goat health and disease manual for farmers and planned goat health education events. One of these events, a goat health & production day for rural vets and producers, was held on a goat dairy near Meningie, SA on 29 Feb. It was well attended with a great line-up of speakers and a farm walk providing many practical insights. The next pilot group meeting is planned for June 2019.

Team training and presentations: There have been numerous opportunities for the team to learn and share about the project over the past six months including:

  1. FMD Ready annual stakeholder workshop – November 2019
  2. Cross pilot workshop – February 2020. At this workshop, the pilot groups shared their learnings, key achievements, and challenges with representatives of the state and territory governments and peak industry bodies. Participants agreed that partnerships between producers, livestock agents, vets, industry bodies and government could contribute a great deal to improve awareness of biosecurity and animal health matters. These findings will help government, industry and producers work together in future to boost Australia’s preparedness for emergency animal diseases. A more detailed evaluation of the meeting is currently underway.