South coast cattle producers in SMS link-up
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.