Animal traceability a lifestyler’s priority

Date 9 August 2019

OSPRI Operations Extension Officer Chloë Dear and husband Simon Owen are lifestyle farmers based in North Canterbury. They are particularly vocal about the value of livestock traceability for disease management after witnessing at first-hand the impact of a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) epidemic in the United Kingdom in 2001.

Where are you based?

At Sefton, between Amberley and Rangiora.

What is your set up?

Simon and I run a small beef operation of 20 cattle, sheep and pigs on 30 acres. Our livestock is kept in an indoor barn during winter and fed baleage and hay.  We actively farm our land with the animals sold as prime or stores. This goes towards farm costs and helps with necessary property upgrades.

How long have you been a lifestyle farmer?

Over six years. I’ve always been interested in agriculture and have a related degree. As a native Southlander, I have an affinity with living off the land.

What can lifestylers do to support disease management and traceability?

Living in a rural area, you have a responsibility to your neighbour and community. Even if your property is small you are part of the farming landscape. As a livestock owner you are legally obligated to register your property and animals in NAIT. Simon usually looks after NAIT and registers our animals in the online system after they’ve been tagged. This should be done before 180 days or before they go off-farm.

Have you re-registered in NAIT?

Yes, and it is straightforward. From my experience seeing the impact of a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak, updating your NAIT account is a small price to pay for protecting your lifestyle or livelihood. The reality is we need a robust national tracing system that we can have trust and confidence in when another livestock disease occurs.

Why should lifestylers priortise animal traceability?

Traceability supports disease management and is vital tool for biosecurity readiness. Being able to trace animals, the people who manage them, and the locations they’ve been at can determine the effectiveness of the response. Simon and I were in the United Kingdom during the FMD outbreak in 2001.  This was simply horrific, and the memory still chills me to the bone. Anyone who has farm pets or livestock will appreciate how sad the situation was. The impact on UK farmers and their rural communities was profound. One abiding memory was flying overhead and seeing the plumes of smoke from the funeral pyres down below from animals being burned, it was distressing and made me weep.

Some lifestylers question why they must register even one animal?

Most lifestylers aren’t breeders. If you introduce an animal on-farm you heighten the risk of disease spread. How do you know that animal has not come from an infected herd? If you’re receiving calves that aren’t tagged or registered, even one, this could compromise our biosecurity capability and have far reaching consequences for the primary sector. Even if you aren’t selling and have them for home kill, your legal obligation is to have these animals recorded in NAIT.

Why is it important to record and confirm every livestock movement?

This is what binds the traceability system. Whether it is one or 50 animals, there needs to be a record of where they are going or been. It’s not difficult to do this online after selling or buying. The key is do it within 48 hours of the trade, this keeps your NAIT account up to date. We also complete an animal status declaration form (ASD) when sending animals off-farm. This form is required for all farmed animal movements and contains information regarding the animal’s health  If sending animals to market, the saleyard can record the movements for you.

Chloe and Simon lifestylers website3

Lifestyle farmers Chloë Dear and Simon Owen