Livestock producers pack Farm Bio-security forums in search of answers

Livestock producers have filled meeting halls to capacity across the region as they seek answers to changes in the on-farm management of Bovine Johne’s Disease.

At forums organised by Hunter Local Land Services (LLS) more than 850 producers attended and similar large turn-outs occurred at meetings for the North Coast LLS.

There were many questions asked as confusion surrounded the adoption of new national rules on Bovine Johnes Disease (BJD) management that include the implementation of individual farm bio-security plans.

Added to the concern was the fact unless those plans were implemented by July 1 herds would revert to a Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) of 0 – which producers feared would affect the market value of their stock.

Fortunately that decision was reversed and herds with no history of Johnes disease would automatically score J-BAS 6. Producers who want to maintain that score now have until October 1 to complete their bio-security farm plan.

Hunter LLS, district veterinarian Digby Raywood said the change to the J-BAS 6 score took the pressure off the majority of beef producers. “We can now all take a breather and calm down,” he said.

Unless you run a mixed dairy/beef operation or are a seedstock producer then it’s best to talk to a veterinarian about how the changes will affect your J-BAS score, he said.

Mr Raywood said beef/sheep producers, should not be overly concerned with the changes as the district does not have a history of Ovine Johnes Disease (OJD) but he stressed it was vital to keep all livestock documents especially health certificates regarding any sheep purchasers.

In the case of stud breeders they may aim for a J-BAS 7 or 8, which requires a veterinarian to sign off on their plan and testing of their herd for evidence of BJD.

Others changes that will take place from October 1 is the need for producers to renew or attain Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) accreditation.

The changes have been launched to coincide with the further roll out of electronic National Vendor Declarations (eNVD), giving producers the option to replace their NVD books with a free automated online system.

Meat Livestock Australia (MLA) would provide modules that producers had to complete for accreditation.

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This story Johnes forums huge first appeared on The Singleton Argus.