South coast cat­tle pro­duc­ers in SMS link-up

Countryman - - LIVESTOCK - Ann Rawl­ings

South coast cat­tle farm­ers can now con­nect with one an­other via SMS tech­nol­ogy, with a pi­lot project on the ground that aims to bol­ster WA’s biose­cu­rity ef­forts.

Pro­duc­ers across the shires of Al­bany, Den­mark and Plantagenet are able to join the new net­work, brought to the ar­eas by the De­part­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment.

The new sur­veil­lance net­work, sched­uled to run un­til April next year, uses SMS tech­nol­ogy to keep pro­duc­ers up-to-date with cat­tle health is­sues in the re­gion.

Its de­vel­op­ers hope the net­work will also help to strengthen the mar­ket ac­cess for the State’s cat­tle and cat­tle prod­ucts.

DPIRD ve­teri­nary of­fi­cer An­drew Larkins said this State had a rep­u­ta­tion for pro­duc­ing healthy cat­tle.

“This is based on a biose­cu­rity sys­tem that demon­strates to a sci­en­tific stan­dard that our stock are fit to trade,” he said.

“This new pi­lot net­work helps to strengthen this sys­tem, while also giv­ing valu­able feed­back to pro­duc­ers in the form of lo­cal in­for­ma­tion on causes of ill­ness.”

Dr Larkins said net­work mem­bers would par­tic­i­pate in a short se­ries of text mes­sages each fort­night ask­ing if they had wit­nessed any signs of ill­ness in their cat­tle.

“Mem­bers will then re­ceive monthly re­ports out­lin­ing what cat­tle ill­nesses have been oc­cur­ring in the area, what the com­mon causes were and what they might be able do about them,” he said.

“Mem­bers who re­port signs of ill­ness in their cat­tle can re­quest a fol­low-up phone call. The pur­pose of the call is to learn more about the case and dis­cuss what sup­port we may be able pro­vide.

“This might in­clude ser­vices such as dis­ease in­ves­ti­ga­tions and post-mortem sam­pling to try and get a def­i­nite di­ag­no­sis on the case, or it may be to re­fer them to their lo­cal pri­vate vet.”

Nar­rikup beef pro­ducer Sheena Smith is an in­dus­try ad­vo­cate as­sist­ing in the co-or­di­na­tion of the net­work.

“I see the net­work as a great op­por­tu­nity for cat­tle pro­duc­ers to learn more about the dis­eases that might be caus­ing trou­ble on their farm and in the re­gion and what man­age­ment changes can be put in place to min­imise the im­me­di­ate im­pact,” she said. “This will also help with fu­ture herd man­age­ment and min­imise the chance of it hap­pen­ing again.”

Ms Smith said the monthly re­ports were a chance for pro­duc­ers to have a look at what ill­nesses had been oc­cur­ring in their re­gion and com­pare them to what was oc­cur­ring on their farm.

“This in­for­ma­tion en­ables pro­duc­ers to as­sess their biose­cu­rity mea­sures early and pro­tect their herd,” she said.

A re­cent trial of 25 lo­cal cat­tle pro­duc­ers from each of the three shires helped in the de­vel­op­ment of the pi­lot project, which has been jointly funded by DPIRD and the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources.

For de­tails, go to agric.wa.gov.au and search ‘Great South­ern cat­tle’.

Nar­rikup pro­ducer Sheena Smith and DPIRD ve­teri­nary of­fi­cer An­drew Larkins are work­ing to keep pro­duc­ers up to date on cat­tle health.

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