A last minute scramble by cattle producers to put biosecurity plans together to retain their health status for bovine Johne’s disease by June 30 has highlighted major gaps in communication.
Producers face falling to a J-BAS (Johne’s Beef Assurance Score) rating of zero if they miss the deadline.
Local Land Services and vets have hurriedly set-up workshops to get producers over the line. Although the plan is voluntary, stock agents warn a biosecurity plan will be important in the saleyard.
It is almost essential seedstock producers and replacement heifer vendors obtain a J-BAS of at least 6, and in most cases a J-BAS of 8 to sell interstate.
Scores over 6 will require vet approval, who may need to visit the property. Vets have also been caught out - some are hurriedly completing accreditation conditions to certify the J-BAS scores.
The new Johne’s system replaces the old zonal classification, and was announced by Animal Health Australia last year. It appears that message failed to get to many cattle producers.
It is believed producers seeking Livestock Production Assurance certification with Meat and Livestock Australia will need a Johne’s biosecurity plan.
Another big carrot, is that if a producer falls to a J-BAS zero rating, it could take six years to obtain a J-BAS 6 rating again, a vet said.
Merriwa Limousin breeder, Pat Ryan, “Meriden”, is among producers racing against the clock. It was essential for his business, as a seedstock provider.
“The chances of me trading interstate are very high,” Mr Ryan said.
With the deadline approaching, Western Australia will continue to require a J-BAS of 8 for cattle entering from south-eastern states (J-BAS of 7 from Queensland), while the Northern Territory will require a score of 6.
To add to the confusion, there are multiple templates for the plan, some larger than others. Mr Ryan will be choosing a template from Western Australia after consultation with his vet.
“I expect that a number of commercial producers will do nothing in the short term. The reality is most commercial producers sell and trade locally. But seedstock producers need a plan to meet their commercial duties,” he said.
After June 30, the next deadline is in June 2018 for the 50 cattle test to keep the J-BAS 7 or 8 score. That involves a soil and herd test.
Mr Ryan’s gut feeling was that many commercial producers would not have a plan in place, and therefore have a J-BAS score of zero after June 30.
Meantime, Local Land Services has announced a series of workshops to help cattle producers.
Vets and the Local Land Services have been trying to fill the gap in knowledge.
Vet, Erica Kennedy, from the Nyngan vet base, is organising some of the workshops and admits only “word of mouth” is helping bring cattle farmers to the Johne’s muster. But Ms Kennedy says any producer that comes to the workshops will be able to walk out with a biosecurity plan with a J-BAS 6 score within two hours. To get a higher score of 7 or 8, producers will have to consult their local vet. Ms Kennedy said the best template for a biosecurity plan was on the Livestock Biosecurity Network website.
Johne’s biosecurity plan workshop locations: Nyngan: Friday, June 16, 10am-1pm, Nyngan RSL Club, Erica Kennedy, 0438 842 365. Tottenham: Monday, June 19, 10am-1pm, Tottenham Golf Club, Erica Kennedy, 0438 842 365. Dubbo, Monday, June 19, 10am-12pm, Westside Hotel, Jillian Kelly, 0428 334 459. Forbes: Monday, June 19, 1pm-3pm, Vandenberg Hotel, Forbes, email@example.com. Gulargambone: Tuesday, June 20, 2.30pm-4.30pm, “Wilga”, Gulargambone. Jillian Kelly, 0428 334 459. Condobolin: Wednesday, June 21, 10am-12pm, Condobolin Services Club, firstname.lastname@example.org. Warren: Wednesday, June 21, 2.30pm-4.30pm, “Raby”, Warren, Erica Kennedy, 0438 842 365. Coonamble: Friday, June 23, 10am-12pm, Local Land Services boardroom, Jillian Kelly.