In­ves­ti­ga­tion into cat­tle tick ‘in­fes­ta­tion’

The Western Star - - Rural Weekly - CASSANDRA GLOVER [email protected]­ral­weekly.com.au

THREE ad­join­ing prop­er­ties in the Burn­cluith area, north of Chin­chilla, are be­ing in­spected fol­low­ing an “in­fes­ta­tion” of cat­tle ticks.

Land­mark Chin­chilla live­stock agent Terry Ryan said lo­cals were “very con­cerned” about the out­break.

“It would have a mas­sive affect here in the Chin­chilla dis­trict if they had a proper go,” Mr Ryan said.

“If they’re (the cat­tle) not treated im­me­di­ately, they can get Red­wa­ter (dis­ease), which can kill them.

“If there was an out­break on one of the big­ger prop­er­ties where they don’t muster as reg­u­larly, cat­tle could be dead be­fore they know the ticks are even on them.

“Any ticky cat­tle can only go to meat­works to be sold, they can’t go to a sa­le­yard.

“And if the cat­tle aren’t fat, they won’t want to kill them in the meat­works, and the sea­son in Chin­chilla is on a down­turn.

“If the cat­tle are trav­el­ling to the meat­works and a truck over­turns there will be tick-in­fested cat­tle ev­ery­where. And it does happen as any other mo­tor ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent.”

Mr Ryan said he didn’t be­lieve the cur­rent sys­tem for manag­ing the tick-free zone was suc­cess­ful after laws were changed in 2016.

He said there was no con­trol along the tick line and up­dated laws re­lied on an hon­esty sys­tem from pro­duc­ers.

Pre­vi­ously, cat­tle had to be pre­sented to a tick-clear­ing sta­tion for treat­ment be­fore mov­ing from the in­fected zone to the clear zone.

In 2016 the laws were changed to al­low pro­duc­ers to or­gan­ise on-farm in­spec­tions by ac­cred­ited in­spec­tors.

“I be­lieve it’s not a suc­cess­ful pro­gram with the re­spon­si­bil­ity on cat­tle own­ers,” Mr Ryan said.

“It must be man­aged by the gov­ern­ment and DAF staff. It looks like DAF have handed it back to pro­duc­ers and wiped their hands of it.

“Ev­ery­one has known this would happen be­cause of the change of rules, we just won­dered when and where it would happen.

“Peo­ple along that tick line have spent a lot of time and money to clear their land, and this could ruin that overnight.

“Lo­cals are very con­cerned about where they might turn up next.”

AgForce Cat­tle Tick Com­mit­tee chair and owner of JK Cat­tle Co’s Justin Bosham­mer said he also wanted to see im­prove­ments to the man­age­ment of the tick line.

“We’ve wanted to get more staff on the ground to get sur­veil­lance hap­pen­ing,” Mr Bosham­mer said.

“It prob­a­bly needs to be a mix of the old and the new.

“As long as there are sys­tems in place to get the ticks out of the clean area, that’s the mea­sure of suc­cess.”

Mr Bosham­mer said the Depart­ment of Agricultur­e had “de­nied out­breaks in­creas­ing” since the laws changed, but the AgForce com­mit­tee was try­ing to work with the depart­ment to get facts and fig­ures.

In the past two years, he said, the big­gest out­breaks had been one in Ta­room and now Chin­chilla.

“The one in Ta­room is still on­go­ing, there’s been nine prop­er­ties af­fected and re­cently one of those prop­er­ties went down again,” Mr Bosham­mer said.

“It’s a real night­mare for peo­ple in the clean area that get ticks.

“It’s a lengthy process to go through an erad­i­ca­tion pro­gram to be cleared. There are chem­i­cal treatments in­volved, and restric­tions on move­ments.

“There are huge ram­i­fi­ca­tions if you come up with ticks on your prop­erty in the clean area.”

The dry con­di­tions be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by much of the tick-free area had pre­vented more out­breaks from hap­pen­ing, ac­cord­ing to Mr Bosham­mer, as ticks thrive in wet con­di­tions.

He said it was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­duc­ers in the tick-free zone to make sure any cat­tle be­ing trans­ported were checked for pests and dis­eases.

“Peo­ple who are in the clean area, if they’re going to buy cat­tle they need to know where they’ve come from.

“If there’s any chance of risk of pest dis­ease they need to do some due dili­gence to prevent them from com­ing across.

“If the cat­tle have come even some­what close to the tick line, you need to take some pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures.

“Par­tic­u­larly trans­fers like prop­erty to prop­erty and prop­erty to sa­le­yards are the big­gest risks.”

Western Downs Re­gional Coun­cil said it would pro­vide as­sis­tance where re­quired and had pre­vented stock pass­ing along stock routes in the vicin­ity.

CAT­TLE TICKS

❚ A Meat and Live­stock Aus­tralia re­search project es­ti­mated that cat­tle ticks cost Aus­tralian farms around $156 mil­lion per year in pro­duc­tion losses and treat­ment costs.

❚ Cat­tle ticks are among the most eco­nom­i­cally dam­ag­ing of par­a­sites, and if left unchecked they can sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce cat­tle live-weight gain and con­cep­tion rates.

❚ Cat­tle ticks are also re­spon­si­ble for trans­mit­ting tick fever, which causes a loss of condition, ill­ness and in se­vere cases even death.

Any pro­ducer who finds sus­pected cat­tle ticks should phone DAF im­me­di­ately on 1800 675 888 and keep the tick samples.

This will al­low the in­fes­ta­tion to be ver­i­fied and to fa­cil­i­tate any ad­di­tional test­ing that will in­form the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

PHOTO: FILE

ABOVE: Terry Ryan from Land­mark in Chin­chilla. BELOW: A map show­ing the Queens­land tick­line.

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