Bucks for Brains on Offer to Cattle Producers

AUSTRALIA - Queensland cattle and sheep producers are being asked to continue their support in proving Australia is free from bovine spongiform encephalopathy(BSE) and scrapie.
calendar icon 10 January 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

Biosecurity Queensland is offering payments for cattle or sheep showing symptoms of neurological disease so that BSE or scrapie can be excluded.

Veterinary Officer, Kate Fryer, said the National TSE Surveillance Programme was designed to ensure Australia retained its status as being free from these two diseases.

"This programme helps demonstrate to our trading partners and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that our cattle herd and sheep flock continue to be free from BSE and scrapie," Ms Fryer said.

"The OIE has a series of guidelines that Australia needs to meet and, in order to do that, we need to collect and test brain samples from cattle and sheep.

"It´s just one of many safeguards that help maintain market access for our livestock industries which are worth more than $4.5 billion to the state´s economy."

Livestock producers will receive A$300 for cattle and A$50 for sheep that are assessed as eligible for sampling.

Dr Fryer said the surveillance programme required Queensland to test a notional 171 cattle and 24 sheep each year.

"While these numbers don't sound like much, it can be challenging for us to obtain the desired number of cattle and sheep year in, year out, and that's why we need farmers to keep this programme in mind," she said.

"Even if a producer thinks they know what their animal is suffering from, they should consider having it tested to rule out BSE or scrapie.

"The other significant benefit of this surveillance is that it enables us to identify what disease the animals are suffering from and where possible appropriate measures could be taken to prevent or treat the conditions.

"Biosecurity Queensland provides a free diagnostic laboratory service for samples meeting the submission criteria."

Producers who have cattle or sheep showing clinical symptoms should contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or their local veterinarian to determine whether they are eligible for an incentive payment.

To be eligible, animals must be examined by a veterinarian or government animal health officer and be displaying BSE or scrapie compatible symptoms that have not improved with treatment.

Cattle must also be aged between 30 months and nine years, while sheep must be between 18 months and five years of age.

Clinical signs can include muscle tremors, changes in behaviour or temperament, difficulty in walking and abnormal posture.

The incentive payment is available for a maximum of two animals per disease incident.

The National TSE Surveillance Programme is managed by Animal Health Australia and is implemented through state and territory animal health agencies.

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