SIGNAGE: LBN Queensland manager Rachel OBrien, of Gympie, and Agforce treasurer and chairman of the weeds committee, Ivan Naggs, of Wolvi, hold a Biosecurity sign to be placed at a property entrance.
SIGNAGE: LBN Queensland manager Rachel OBrien, of Gympie, and Agforce treasurer and chairman of the weeds committee, Ivan Naggs, of Wolvi, hold a Biosecurity sign to be placed at a property entrance.

Gympie graziers in turmoil over bovine johnes disease

THE decision by the West Australian government to restrict cattle coming into the state from Queensland based on bovine johnes disease has thrown graziers into turmoil.

BJD is an incurable bacterial disease that thickens the wall of the small intestine, not allowing an animal to absorb nutrients from the food. An animal will gradually waste away and die.

However it is not quite as simple as that as BJD can also lie dormant for more than five years before symptoms show up, and even then the disease may only manifest in an infected animal during periods of high stress.

The reason the WA decision is important to the whole country is that cattle from Queensland can easily finish up in WA, and this can happen within a few days.

More than 70 graziers crowded the Fossickers Room at the Gympie Civic Centre to hear from veterinarians, Biosecurity staff and Agforce, about what they can do to ensure that when they come to sell cattle there are not restrictions on movements that can affect the price paid.

In a complicated system BJD status scores from one to eight signify disease possibility. To achieve high ie six, seven or eight status, graziers have to have a Biosecurity Plan for their property.

Livestock Biosecurity Network Queensland manager, Rachel O'Brien, now residing in the Gympie area, said she had been inundated with enquiries from graziers.

"The Biosecurity Plan is paperwork, but realistically does not cover much more than most graziers are doing already,” she said.

"It is just a matter of getting it down on paper and following that.”

The plan is part of the change to Biosecurity regulations covering all rural industries, where the responsibility is placed back onto the individual to ensure pests or diseases are not spread. To help graziers with making a Biosecurity Plan, LBN has available a 36-page template.

This covers all aspects of grazing operations, but not all are applicable to all properties.

The template sets out a series of statements that can be answered 'yes' (we are already doing that) or 'no'. As a guide, green coloured statements are current minimum industry standard and really need to be answered 'yes' before a Biosecurity Plan can be accepted as such.

The template is an easy-to-follow sequence with an action sheet that is filled out after the others have been answered.

Broken down into seven sections, it is a reminder that some work may need to be carried out to bring management up to standard.

All sections of the animal industry are involved and strongly support the use of Biosecurity Plans for all producers as a pest and disease mitigation measure.