Biosecurity plans for small landholders

Page last updated: Friday, 25 May 2018 - 5:09pm

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If you run livestock, whether on a small scale or commercially, you need a biosecurity plan.

A biosecurity plan should cover the steps you would take when bringing animals onto your property, managing the biosecurity risks already present on your property and the steps you would take when moving animals off your property.

Biosecurity means the protection of animals, plants, the environment and people’s health from harmful diseases and pests.

It includes preventing new pests and diseases from arriving on your property, managing those that might already be present and reducing the risk of spreading pests and diseases.

Why have a biosecurity plan?

Poor biosecurity can allow diseases to enter a property and spread, resulting in loss of money and reputation for the landholder, as well as potentially spreading to neighbours, clients or, at worst, the whole country.

Followed conscientiously, the plan will help to ensure that you maintain a high standard of animal health and that your animals and their products meet market requirements.

What is in a biosecurity plan?

A biosecurity plan will cover a wide range of activities and include plans to keep out and/or manage various diseases, which are endemic (already present in Australia), exotic (not present in Australia) or new diseases.

An effective plan is a clear, concise, written document that covers all the biosecurity risks for your property.

The plan should anticipate disease and pest risks and provide specific instructions on measures to minimise or eliminate potential problems.

The plan will include actions that must be taken:

  • before animals come onto a property
  • while the animals are on the property
  • when the animals leave the property.

The plan should note how often you will observe animals for signs of ill-health. The frequency of observations may increase during anticipated higher risk periods, such as during lambing or calving or when animals are put onto a new ration.

The plan should be continuously consulted and reviewed.

Bringing animals onto the property

Visual inspection

Inspect new livestock closely for normal appearance and behaviour.

Some diseases have clear visible signs such as pink eye (cattle and sheep), ringworm (cattle, sheep and humans), mange (dogs and sheep), scabby mouth (sheep or goats) or footrot (sheep and goats). Other diseases may make the animal look generally unhealthy.

Indications of ill-health include a dull coat, poor body condition, scouring, reluctance to stand or walk freely, runny eyes or lack of appetite.


Check that animals have the correct legal identification. All livestock owners within Western Australia must be registered and their stock identified in accordance with the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Identification and Movement of Stock and Apiaries) Regulations 2013.

Registered owners will be issued with a property identification code (PIC) which outlines the properties they have registered to run stock on and the identifiers they may need to identify their stock, i.e. their stock brand, earmark and/or tattoo.

Whether they are kept as pets or for commercial purposes, all ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats, deer, bison and buffalo), equines (horses, ponies, mules and donkeys), South American camelids (alpaca, llama and vicuna) and pigs (including miniature pigs) are considered livestock under the BAM (IMSA) Regulations.

Correct identification is necessary in order to trace stock movements quickly when disease outbreaks or chemical residue problems occur. It is also necessary for investigations into suspected stock theft or straying livestock.

Health status documents

Ask for documentary evidence of the livestock’s history and health status (such as a national vendor declaration (NVD)/waybill, a National Sheep Health Statement (NSHS) or a PigPass-NVD).

You should be able to find out vaccination status, recent worm and lice treatments and any property history of diseases such as footrot, Johne’s disease or ovine brucellosis.

This way you can check that the new animals are at least as healthy as your own.

Isolate new arrivals

Isolate new animals and any animals returning from shows or agistment, from other animals already on the property, for seven days. Observe them for any signs of illness during this time.

This quarantine will allow time for any incubating disease to become evident, without being spread to other animals on your property.