Friday, 14 December 2018 08:05

Bull movements need close watch

Written by 
Richard Morrison, Manawatu farmer. Richard Morrison, Manawatu farmer.

If you're selling or leasing bulls this spring, understand the risks and know the animal’s history of movement and health.

That's the message from Manawatu beef farmer Richard Morrison.

Bulls tend to be moved around a lot, so it is essential all movements are recorded and confirmed by the sender and receiver in the NAIT online system, within 48 hours of the bull relocating. 

Each time an animal is moved it must carry a completed animal status declaration form (ASD), necessary for evaluating a bull’s TB status and movement history.

“Know your customers too -- their NAIT number and their onfarm biosecurity,” says Morrison.

He and his brother William recently hosted a bull auction on their property, selling about 250 Hereford bulls to customers nationwide. They assigned stock agents as their PICA delegates who ensured all NAIT transactions were recorded from their property and at the bull’s new location, even if it is only for a couple of months.

Their 1430ha Marton property is two beef and sheep farms. They chose to register both farms as one NAIT location as they both fall within a 10km radius circle. 

“We are aware this decision exposes both businesses to more neighbouring properties with bigger boundaries to manage, but that’s a risk we’re willing to accept and mitigate.”

Bull breeders carry a unique risk profile, being subject to an intense testing regime for bovine TB, theileria, bovis virus diarrhoea (BVD) and parasites. 

Under regular scrutiny, Richard has no qualms about the importance of livestock traceability. 

“It comes with the territory. You’re always wary of minimising disease risks particularly in this current climate of Mycoplasma bovis. When sending bulls out, you want to avoid multiplying a potential issue.

“We’ve had good clients and friends asking to temporarily lease a bull, but we aren’t willing to act ad hoc and expose ourselves to risk, creating dire implications for everyone.”

Farmers could do more when managing bull movements with the uncertainty on bulls being sourced from many locations and stock agents.

Bulls sent to dairy farms for mating must be recorded in the NAIT system and movements confirmed by dairy farmers through their NAIT accounts or through information providers such as Minda and CRV.

Even if a dairy farmer is leasing a bull for mating, they become the PICA farmer for that animal and are responsible for confirming movements onto their farm and recording future movements off their property when the animal leaves.

Richard says, “There’s a big overlap with beef and dairy farmers when leasing heifer grazers or bulls for mating. I think relations can be better in understanding and knowing the other’s motivations.” 

Still, the importance of good biosecurity practices onfarm is resonating with most farmers and the key to that is an effective animal traceability system.

“I don’t think farmers appreciated NAIT until now. We can see the benefits after the M.bovis outbreak. As food producers and sellers it is in our interests to support the NAIT online system.

“It provides a platform to leverage and pitch our products overseas and to the top end of the market. There’s the provenance aspect too -- our story unique to New Zealand. We can’t claim to have these values without a traceability system like NAIT.”

• For information on temporary livestock movements visit www.nait.co.nz or www.ospri.co.nz

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