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Beware of risks if buying in stock

By Scott Ison & Eve Hall
District Veterinarians

17 July 2019

Local Land Services staff member at saleyards with sheep.Luckier parts of the region have experienced a reasonable autumn, and in some areas there is certainly a bit of green feed about. With stock numbers generally low as a result of the last few seasons, we’re seeing some farmers looking to buy in a few more mouths. This is great to see. It’s also a critical time to remember that there are real disease risks involved when introducing stock.

A few big ones to have on your radar might include:

Footrot in sheep and goats

Footrot is notifiable and regulated in NSW. This is for the benefit of the welfare, productivity and marketability of NSW sheep. When introducing stock, there could be a risk of also bringing in a nasty strain of footrot, particularly if buying from states which don’t regulate the disease.

Carefully consider where you buy stock from. Always ask for a Sheep Health Statement to accompany the NVD. Inspect stock prior to or on arrival and discuss with a vet if you have the slightest of concerns. Even if all seems okay, put your quarantine practices into place and ideally run new stock separately to your own flock at least until after a good spring.

Johne’s disease

Johne’s disease is notifiable in NSW, but it’s no longer regulated. It causes a chronic wasting condition in sheep and cattle with weight loss, diarrhoea and death being the main signs. If you’re seeing these sort of problems in your stock, you need to let a district vet know. You won’t be ‘quarantined’ but we can offer plenty of great advice on how you can best manage the problem. Your individual situation will determine how you assess the risk of introduced stock. Sourcing cattle from herds that are JBAS 6 or above is a good idea. You can also try to source sheep from a Regional Biosecurity Area, which has lower prevalence of the disease, or buy vaccinated sheep known as ‘Approved Vaccinates’.

Drench-resistant worms in sheep

Drench resistance is very common. Use the Sheep Health Statement to establish as much as you can about the management and drenching history of the new stock. ‘Quarantine’ drench and hold in isolation after treatment. Follow up with a Worm Test 14 days later to ensure treatment was successful. See the WormBoss website for more info on quarantine drenching.

If you’re considering buying in stock, be sure to take your time and consider some of the hazards. You can always get in touch with a Local Land Services district vet to discuss your individual situation and chat about some of the specific risks that might apply to you.