There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of introducing animal diseases onto your property. The following are some straightforward, common sense steps to help you protect your animals against diseases and reduce the likelihood of widespread outbreaks.
What you can do to reduce the risk of introducing exotic (introduced) diseases or endemic diseases (those that already occur in New Zealand) on your property
- Always buy stock from reputable sources. Check their animal health status (for instance in the case of cattle their TB status). Check what diseases animals have been vaccinated against.
- Isolate new animals to your property for a period of 7 days (if possible) and ensure they are healthy before introducing them to your flock or herd.
- Make sure you do not use footwear or equipment that you use with your own animals on properties where other animals are kept – or if you do, make sure that they are thoroughly washed and preferably disinfected.
- Always wash your hands with soap and hot water, and clothes and footwear with disinfectant if dealing with animals you suspect are unwell. Do not visit your neighbour’s property until the cause of illness of your animals has been determined – this limits its chance of spread.
- It’s illegal to feed food waste to pigs that contain meat (or have been in contact with meat) unless it has been cooked at 100 degrees celsius for one hour (for example by boiling).
- Always comply with your legal requirement to fully and accurately complete animal status declaration (ASD) forms for every livestock movement off the farm. Keep copies of ASDs for movements onto the farm.
- Remember to comply with your NAIT obligations on movement recording for cattle and deer to enable the tracing of animals in the event of an outbreak of exotic disease.
- Regularly worm all dogs on the property and do not give dogs access to uncooked offal (this is a legal requirement to stop the re-introduction of hydatids disease)
You know your animals best
It’s important to involve your veterinarian if you see anything of concern in your animals or anything else out of the ordinary. If several of your animals display unusual disease signs, abnormal behaviour, or unexpected deaths, call your vet immediately.
- Ensure your animals are well watered, fed, and have access to shelter. More information about animal welfare requirements is available here.
- If you’d like more detailed information about biosecurity planning, download this simple on-farm biosecurity plan developed by Beef+Lamb New Zealand and Deer NZ. Although this document has been produced for large farms, it’s still very relevant for lifestyle farmers.