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Biosecurity on grazing properties

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3 min read

Boundaries and gates Yards Sick/injured stock Machinery Feeders and troughs Lanes Visitors Farm team

Thousands of New Zealand dairy cattle are wintered and/or grazed off farm. There are many ways graziers can protect the health of the stock they manage and owners can ensure the safe arrival and care of their stock. Following these tips will assist you in safeguarding the health of the stock you manage.

Stock owners: Before you move stock, or when you receive them, ensure all movement is confirmed in NAIT within 48 hours. Keeping NAIT up to date is a vital step to keep your animals safe.

Graziers: Before stock arrive at your property, know the essential practices you and your team need to maintain to safeguard their health. Communication is key - review the Communication Plan for Graziers to help manage expectations with your team, your neighbours, herd owners, agents, transporters and vets.

Follow the guidance and find resources on this page to help protect cattle and your property from biosecurity risks.

Click on the hotspots below for information.

Protect animals and your property against diseases

It’s important to protect animals against the high-risk diseases we have e.g. Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis), Bovine tuberculosis (TB), Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) and leptospirosis, and potentially devastating diseases that could enter New Zealand, like foot and mouth and lumpy skin disease.

Grazing can be high risk when cattle are in close proximity and herds are mixed. The following tips will help protect the cattle under your care.

Boundaries and gates

  • Maintain your fences, gates and latches to secure your boundaries.
  • Have one main entrance to your property.
  • Check your gates are secured well from animals and human visitors.
  • Create 2m buffer zones along all fence lines to prevent cattle contact. This includes roadways, lanes and farm tracks.
  • Do not graze multiple herds in one paddock. If unavoidable, create a semi-permanent double fence using rows of warratahs 2m apart, and graze cattle away from each other.
  • Use the feed in buffer zones before or after cattle are on both sides of the fence.

Yards

Yards get contaminated with faeces, urine and fluid from the noses and mouths of cattle during periods of heavy use. They are also a confined point of entry for all stock.

  • Maintain your yards to keep them as clean and dry as possible because poorly maintained yards are hard to disinfect.
  • Ask herd owners to tag, vaccinate, and drench stock at the home farm to reduce use of your yards.
  • Stagger cattle arrivals to avoid contact with other herds.
  • Consider using portable ramps to offload.
  • Make sure transporters are aware of any policies relevent to your property.
  • The Communication Plan for Graziers will help make sure everyone has the right information.
  • If you share your yards with a neighbour, work with them to share use safely between arrivals.
  • Disinfection of surfaces is less important than preventing direct cattle contact.
  • A one-day delay between groups of cattle arriving allows sunshine and wind to reduce contamination.
  • If disinfectants are used, ensure the surfaces being sprayed are clean and use a bactericidal product that is safe for you, the cows, and the environment.

Sick/injured stock

  • Agree with herd owners that skinny, lame, and otherwise unwell animals will stay at their home property.
  • Make a plan now for how you will deal with sick or injured stock e.g. Call the vet, mark/record/separate/treat, send home if able to be transported safely.
  • Under no circumstances should sick or injured animals from multiple herds be mixed into one mob.

Machinery

For most diseases, with the exception of foot and mouth disease, the risk of transmission by machinery at grazing is low, but machinery can be contaminated by saliva when licked by curious cattle.

  • Park farm bikes outside of paddocks when shifting fences and feeders.
  • Avoid leaving tractors and wagons sitting in paddocks.
  • Remember disinfection doesn’t work unless the surface has been cleaned first.

Feeders and troughs

Ringer feeders can get covered in saliva.

  • Keep feeders and troughs with the same herd for the grazing season.
  • Make sure staff are aware of the saliva contamination on gear as they move between mobs.

Lanes

The main risk with lanes and roadways is cattle on the other side of the fences.

  • Ensure 2m buffer zones are in place between all groups of cattle, including lanes and roadways.

Visitors and biosecurity

Visitors, gumboots, dogs and vehicles are potential sources of many diseases and pests.

  • Have a sign at the entrance to your property to direct visitors to stay on the farm track and call the farm owner or manager.
  • Be prepared for visitors - have spare gumboots and overalls, and a disinfection station for boots when people enter and leave your property.
  • A ‘clean on, clean off’ policy for visitors and their gear minimises the risk of transferring diseases and pests between farms.
  • Consider involving your vet or other biosecurity expert in the development of your farm biosecurity plan. Download the Biosecurity Planner.

Farm team

Involving your staff with the planning of procedures on your farm ensures they understand the risks and what they need to do.

  • Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) so the team has a clear understanding of expectations during most situations.
  • Review and update your Biosecurity Plan with your team.
Last updated: Aug 2023
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