Closer ties between farmers strengthens traceability
Better communication between dairy and beef farmers can strengthen animal traceability and disease management says Bay of Plenty farmer Rick Powdrell.
Rick runs a 382-hectare drystock operation managing cattle and sheep and sees mutual biosecurity benefits from closer cooperation, having undertaken a business arrangement with nearby dairy farmer Darryl Jensen.
“Both of us are better off. My set-up with Darryl where animals move between our farms reduces the risk of disease spread with farm-to-farm movements localised and fewer. We always know the animal’s history and spend less time recording movements in NAIT, which reduces the chance of errors creeping into the system,” says Rick.
Darryl’s decision to hold on to his bobby calves and rear them for beef production reflects an increasing trend among dairy farmers, and this development is creating more opportunities for dairy and beef farmers to engage and build relationships.
Rick says, “In the past when I bought animals from saleyards or private sellers, you’re never really sure how many times they’ve moved, or sure about their health. Trading with Darryl and using the same local grazier, I no longer have those concerns.
“It provides more reassurance around on-farm biosecurity and disease management. And, it can only strengthen NAIT’s ability to trace animals more accurately and swiftly, when another disease outbreak occurs,” says Rick.
Dairy and beef farmers who intend to rear calves for beef production should be mindful to update the animal production type in the NAIT online system.
From birth, all cattle are assigned a production type and this determines what farmers pay for their TB slaughter levy. It is therefore important farmers regularly check their NAIT accounts to ensure all animals are registered accurately in the online system before moving off-farm.
To ensure they’re paying the correct slaughter levy, farmers can change the animal production type. But they must do the update in the NAIT online system - 62 days before the animals go for slaughter.
Rick says, “If you’re a beef farmer, don’t assume that because you are registered as a drystock farm in the NAIT system you will pay the beef levy at the works. If you haven’t updated the animal production type from dairy to beef you'll be charged the dairy levy instead of the beef levy.”
In November, Rick is due to receive about 200 feeder calves from Darryl on to his Te Puke farm.
“It’s all straightforward really. Darryl records the sending movement in NAIT, and I confirm a receiving movement at my end. I’ve got a panel reader set up at the race, which is ideal for registering the animals automatically in NAIT as they come on-farm, and you can weigh them too using this equipment,” says Rick.
A staunch supporter of animal traceability, Rick has been an active NAIT user since the system was introduced seven years ago. He recalls making 'multiple calls’ over that period to the OSPRI Contact Centre but has no gripe.
“As a farmer these days, we seem to be constantly under the hammer to be compliant with a whole range of things, some of which are unfair. But for me, NAIT is different as there’s clearly a need and a benefit - so it is justified.
“Those farmers who aren’t convinced even after the M.Bovis [Mycoplasma bovis]outbreak, should consider the implications for their business and livelihood by not making animal traceability and disease management a priority,” says Rick.