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Animal health surveillance

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is committed to improving agricultural outputs, and animal disease identification, management and reporting, through industry education and training.

As part of this commitment we are supporting a series of animal health surveillance projects in 2018 with government and industry partners in New South Wales (NSW), Western Australia (WA), South Australia (SA), Queensland and Tasmania. These projects will help producers to better detect, understand and report changes in livestock health.

This work helps provide evidence that Australia’s livestock is free of pests and diseases, which is important for international trade. It also improves our ability to stop disease incursions quickly when they do occur.

Disease surveillance

This initiative is funded under the Australian Government's Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper and is one way we are strengthening biosecurity surveillance and analysis.

We are supporting livestock producers to identify and report notifiable diseases in their stock through producer surveillance networks.

Network members will receive free assistance from participating veterinarians in disease identification and management. This includes advice about whether more detailed investigation is required.

A variety of other activities will occur across Australia that livestock producers and industry members are encouraged to get involved.

If you are interested in participating in a network, contact us using the email address info. Please write “Attention: Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Section” in the subject line.

Activities by region

New South Wales 

Workshops will occur for stock farmers in Murrumbateman (hosted by the Small Farms Network) and Camden in May 2018.

Participants will learn from vets, butchers and other invited speakers about animal disease identification and reporting. They will also gain practical skills and ideas for managing farm biosecurity and minimising disease.

Stock farmers can continue to seek disease management advice and report any changes in livestock health through the Small Farms Network after the event.

Western Australia

In WA an industry-led surveillance network will be developed in the southwest and southern region of the state. The network will include producers, stock agents, agricultural consultants and on-plant veterinarians.

A series of veterinarian-led workshops focused on biosecurity practices, disease detection, reporting and investigation will occur this year. Following the workshops, producers will report disease signs using an SMS reporting system. The system will permit regular sharing of de-identified disease intelligence.


A web-based discussion portal about livestock health will be established in Queensland. This will facilitate information sharing and discussion within the northern Australian stud cattle industry.

The portal will also capture and support industry ideas and initiatives to recognise, measure and reward effective biosecurity planning and good health outcomes.

Vets will be able to provide advice to producers through the portal.


Tasmania is piloting a free, confidential telephone reporting service for a small number of sheep and beef producers.

Producers will be able to provide information and photos of diseases through the reporting service and receive advice from private vets about whether further investigation is required.

Reported symptoms will be kept confidential and will help develop a picture of livestock health across Tasmania.

Having better information about livestock disease issues will also improve the support vets provide to producers. They will use it to inform diagnoses, advise on changing disease risks and suggest preventative strategies.

This information collected through the service will be able to be shared with producers and other stakeholders.

Pilot training for abattoir workers

This project will train staff from small domestic abattoirs and knackeries in disease recognition, reporting and communication. They will gain skills in providing feedback to producers about signs of disease in carcasses and relevant farm control measures. They will also be encouraged to join existing animal health networks, to enable them to take part in state surveillance programs.

Pilot training among a small number of abattoirs and knackeries in NSW is expected to run May to June 2018.

This project is funded by the department's Stronger Biosecurity and Quarantine Initiative and partners with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, working with the National Meat Industry Training Advisory Council (Mintrac). ​