A leading Ballarat veterinarian is urging farmers not to be afraid to report unusual potential disease infections in their stock.
Agriculture Victoria veterinary officer Catherine Bunter took part in the first session of a sheep & goat roadshow in Buningyong yesterday, showing farmers the best methods to keep their stock healthy.
Dr Bunter said she and many other veterinarians are working overtime to show the impacts of Barber's Pole worm on livestock.
"Presently a lot of people that didn't have an issue with this worm and have been really good farmers and doing all the right things by drenching their sheep all of a sudden have seen a big impact on them," she said.
"They've had a lot of sudden death in their young weaner sheep and in pregnant ewes."
She outlined that farmers needed to report unusual activity in their stock straightaway to lessen the impact of any virus that may creep on their property.
"There is a fear about the limitations that will happen on their operation, but we need to look out for each other, and disease outbreaks are going to have an impact on everyone," she said.
"It's like being a team player in a basketball game where we owe it to each and every player on that team to work to win the game, really."
Dr Bunter's session focused on Barber's Pole in her workshop but said general biosecurity protection against several animal disease outbreaks was most farmers' topic of the day.
But she warned the Japanese encephalitis outbreak at the beginning of the year, the current Varroa mite outbreak in New South Wales, and the threat of foot and mouth and lumpy skin disease meant that endemic diseases could be sidelined.
But she also believes attitudes are changing.
"Pleasingly I think we are actually moving in the right direction [regarding outbreaks]," she said
"Once upon a time, people didn't really understand how diseases spread and didn't understand their role to play in it, but funnily enough, I think that COVID has made people much more aware of biosecurity threats.
"It's taken a human disease to wake people up to the animal disease side of things."
The Victorian Farmers Federation Stock Sense workshops also headed to Hamilton yesterday and will today head to Horsham.
On July 20, the roadshow will also head to Bendigo and Swan Hill to speak to local farmers in those regions.
Veterinary consultant with Livestock Logic Hamilton Andrew Whale is also be speaking at the sessions and says he will discuss pain relief options for sheep producers.
"There's a number of different pain relief options available for sheep at mulesing and marking time and the VFF just wanted to make people aware of some of the veterinary prescription products that are available," he said.
"They generally can't be marketed or advertised through sort of channels that over the counter products can be, so there's a real lack of awareness of what products are available."
Dr Whale said it was vital that producers know what pain relief options are available now because Tri-Solfen will be hard to come by this year.
"Pain relief is a requirement for mulesing in Victoria, and so at the moment, the product that most people have used for that isn't available," he said.
"So they need to be aware of what the alternatives are, which are generally prescription products that you can source through a veterinarian."
He said there'd been a massive increase in inquiry in some parts of Victoria and much of New South Wales for pain relief alternatives, while in the last two to three years, more producers will turn to castration and tail docking.
"We're probably six to eight weeks away from our mulesing season and there's been a small amount of inquiry about alternatives for people that can't get Tri-Solfen," he said.
"But I think that'll really pick up in the next four to six weeks."
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