Biosecurity risks apply  to small farms

Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover
Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover

HAVING ‘just a few animals in the backyard’ is just as crucial for animal health surveillance as large-scale commercial operations. 

“When it comes to surveillance for animal health or in the event of an Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) it doesn’t matter if you have 10 animals or 10 000, every producer has an important role to play,” said Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover.

Dr  Hernandez-Jover is a senior lecturer in epidemiology and veterinary public health at Charles Sturt University’s (CSU) School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences in Wagga. 

She said the research highlights the diversity among these producers who are commonly called or known as smallholder producers.

“Our study involved a wide range of smallholder livestock producers, including those keeping sheep, cattle, pigs, alpacas or poultry,” she said.  

“We found there’s diversity in terms of animals kept, their motivation for keeping animals and their cultural background,” she said. 

The research also shows there’s a need for building awareness of biosecurity.

It’s been an area of research interest for the team at the Graham Centre for the last decade, working in conjunction with the University of Sydney and Macquarie University.

“We also wanted to identify what and who influences the most small livestock producers’ animal management practices and how to use these influences to support them in their everyday on-farm activities in relation to disease management,” Dr Hernandez-Jover said.

“We found that producers are concerned about the health of their animals and regularly inspect livestock but there is limited implementation of biosecurity practices on-farm.