Great Southern Cattle Surveillance Network

Page last updated: Friday, 9 November 2018 - 3:32pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Cattle producers in the shires of Albany, Denmark and Plantagenet in Western Australia now have the opportunity to join a new pilot surveillance network for cattle health that uses a simple SMS system. The network aims to provide members with up-to-date information about health issues occurring in cattle in the region, while also strengthening WA industry’s ability to detect new, emerging or exotic diseases more rapidly.

Call for local producers to participate

The Great Southern Cattle Surveillance Network is a pilot producer surveillance project jointly funded by the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and the federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR). The network will be active from September 2018 until April 2019.

Cattle producers in the shires of Albany, Denmark and Plantagenet are now invited to join the network. Trial users from each of the three shires have been working with DPIRD helping to develop the network since August 2018 and providing feedback on the SMS system and surveillance reports.

Network representatives will be at Mt Barker Regional Saleyards and attending field days in the region from September 2018 to explain to producers how the network operates, to ask for feedback and to take registration forms.

Benefits of animal health surveillance

WA’s Great Southern region produces quality livestock for consumers across the globe. Our animal health surveillance system helps the industry prove that livestock are free from diseases and residues that could harm human health or damage our ability to sell livestock within Australia and overseas. The Great Southern cattle surveillance network is designed to strengthen the system to protect our markets and provide producers with information to help improve on-farm production.

The network offers the chance for producers to share information across the region to strengthen disease surveillance and production as a whole. Reports from the network will help producers make informed decisions about animal health on-farm. 

How the pilot cattle surveillance network works

Members of the network will participate in a short series of SMS texts each fortnight asking if they have seen any new signs of illness in their cattle. A single letter yes (Y) or no (N) response by SMS is all that is required. Any member who responds Y will receive a further two messages, asking what signs of illness they have observed and how many animals were affected. See the factsheet in the Documents link for examples of the SMS conversations.

Any member can request a call from their local DPIRD vet to discuss their cattle health queries. Anyone with significant reports will receive a phone call from a DPIRD vet to discuss the case and see what assistance DPIRD can provide. This might include services such as subsidised disease investigations and post-mortem sampling to try and get a definite diagnosis. However, note that the network does not replace timely discussion with your private vet.

Early investigation and diagnosis of diseases that occur on-farm can provide producers with information to help minimise production losses during the outbreak and guide future management practices to prevent the problem from occurring again. 

Benefits of joining the pilot cattle surveillance network

Every month, members will receive:

  • a surveillance report for the region, which will include:
    • which disease syndromes have been occurring most commonly
    • what is likely to be causing them and
    • what you can do about them.

The network also has the ability to send members an early warning SMS for disease outbreaks or livestock emergencies.

Members will also benefit from:

  • a strengthened animal health surveillance system that protects our cattle industry
  • regular contact with local DPIRD vets
  • increased knowledge of the subsidies available for livestock disease investigations.

If the network is able to show that there is a topic commonly reported across all members, this will highlight areas that may be advantageous for future research and ensure that it is relevant to producers.

How do I join?

Only cattle producers in the shires of Denmark, Albany and Plantagenet are eligible to join the network for this pilot project in 2018/19. You can join by returning a completed registration form (see the Documents link on this page) by email or post to:

  • Andrew Larkins, DPIRD, 444 Albany Hwy, Albany WA 6330, email: or
  • or in person to Andrew Larkins or Sheena Smith at the Mt Barker Saleyards on sale days from September onwards.

For more information, contact:

Andrew Larkins
DPIRD veterinary officer, Albany
Phone: +61 (0)8 9892 8530 or

Sheena Smith
Cattle producer & ag event coordinator, Narrikup
Mobile: +61 (0)427 214 707 or


Contact information

Andrew Larkins