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A description of biosecurity practices among selected dairy farmers across Australia

Aleri, J.W. and Laurence, M.ORCID: 0000-0003-1215-2848 (2020) A description of biosecurity practices among selected dairy farmers across Australia. Animal Production Science, 60 (14). pp. 1711-1720.

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Aims: The study investigated critical biosecurity control points and dairy farmers’ motivations towards biosecurity practices among selected dairy farmers across Australia.

Methods: A questionnaire template was administered via an online survey. A three-stage process was used to develop the questionnaire by pooling of potential questions, selection and reduction of the questions to fit an 8–10 min survey.

Key results: A total of 55 responses were obtained. Mixed species rearing was practiced on 69% of the farms, with a majority keeping either sheep or beef cattle within the same property as dairy cattle. Approximately half of the farms (49%) did not provide formal training to new staff on aspects of animal health, as well as not conducting bull breeding soundness. Most of the farms (98%) required staff to use personal protective equipment, such as overalls and gumboots, but only a few of the farms (34%) had designated areas to clean footwear and a system for recording visitors (17%). Record keeping pertaining to animal health, maintenance of good fences and use of vendor declaration forms was practiced in a majority of the farms. The practice of quarantining new stock before mixing with other stock was practiced in only 45% of the farms. Monthly herd health visits by a veterinarian were utilised by 55% of the farms. Multivariable analysis showed positive significant associations between mixed species rearing with the practice of regular pest control (P = 0.004) and use of footbaths (P = 0.024) and no biosecurity plan (P = 0.025). Furthermore, a positive significant association was also recorded on the presence of a biosecurity plan and the presence of a designated area to clean footwear (P = 0.002) and no regular deworming (P = 0.024). Animal and human health reasons were the main motivators for implementing and maintaining ‘best practice’ biosecurity practices, whereas government regulation was the lowest motivator.

Conclusions: It is concluded that the biosecurity practices were variable, and animal and human health reasons were the primary motivators for instituting biosecurity practices.

Implications: There is a need to continue educating farmers on the importance of biosecurity practices.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Veterinary Medicine
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © 2020 CSIRO
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