NAIT provides effective livestock traceability

Date 18 September 2018

Andrew Stewart, is a West Coast sharemilker with around 300 cows. He is involved with a family owned business of two dairy and one beef finishing unit.

How do you ensure all the farms are NAIT compliant?
We run a tight ship being a family business with all trade done only between the three family farms. I’ve been in NAIT from the start and got my younger brother who runs the drystock set up on NAIT and my parents who run the home farm. All animals or calves we rear are tagged with a NAIT RFID tag within 6 months of birth or before they move off-farm. We register them in NAIT as soon as possible, ideally within 7 days of being tagged. If someone has forgot to do anything I will chase them up.

You obviously place a strong emphasis on NAIT?
We do, because if there is a future biosecurity incursion or livestock disease response, how are farmers or industry going to manage without effective livestock traceability? As the farmer or PICA, you have an obligation to declare all animals on-farm, it does not happen automatically, and not declaring your animals’ movement on and off farm is bloody irresponsible. Make sure you create and record all livestock movements in the NAIT online system within 48 hours of the movement happening. If the other PICA does not confirm the movement, let them know about it or you can actually make a request online for them to do so, this will be picked up by the NAIT organisation and they can act on that information you have entered in the online system.

Rearing calves in the current environment with M.bovis- how do you manage that?
Well, I guess I’m lucky in that respect as unlike other sharemilkers my calves or livestock only move between the family owned farms, so we know all animals are going to be tagged and registered. It’s important to complete your ASD (animal status declaration} with any movement, this way you can share the animal’s health and history with the next PICA.

Are all your farm locations registered under one NAIT number?
No, we chose to keep them separate even though we could have recorded them as one NAIT location as all the farms are within proximity - a 10km radius. This is probably a legacy of managing TB and movement controls on the Coast, back before NAIT even existed. It is actually good practice, because if you have an issue with livestock disease it might only be affecting one farm meaning the rest of the business does not have to be locked down.

Farmers were slow to warm to NAIT, why do you think that has changed?
To be fair, I don’t think the value proposition of NAIT was sold on farmers. Before the M. bovis outbreak, I think it was looked upon as another compliance thing to do, and farmers were already under hammer with other issues like RMA and more recently health and safety. The cold, hard reality of dealing with a disease response and having systems like animal traceability suddenly resonated with M.bovis and now it’s a no brainer. If we don’t have NAIT and a lifetime traceability of animals, we simply can’t guarantee our food quality or safety and, that has implications for our reputation overseas as a food exporter.

Finally, a tip for farmers using NAIT?
Make sure your account is regularly updated. This might seem another bloody thing to do at the end of a busy day on-farm, but not doing so, compromises the integrity of the NAIT online system. If you can’t do this, there is information providers who can be assigned to do it for you. You can’t have effective traceability without reliable information, and this includes recording any livestock death or loss.

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