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Honing in on horse biosecurity

Horse owners on small acreages are urged to hone in on key biosecurity hazards to ensure their equine friends are kept healthy and safe, and that they don’t pose a risk to other horse owners or animal industries.

That’s the message from Northern Tablelands Local Land Services District Veterinarian, Nigel Brown, who is himself a keen horse enthusiast.

“Keeping informed about common diseases such as tetanus, strangles, ringworm and equine herpes virus, as well as other well-known risks to horse health including worms and toxic weeds like Paterson’s Curse and St John's wort, will help keep your own horse safe. It will also reduce the possibility of a problem spreading to a neighbouring paddock or to horses belonging to friends and others further afield at the next campdraft or pony club event,” said Nigel.

Nigel Brown also advises horse owners to be aware of their legal requirements regarding Property Identification Codes (PIC) and Travelling Stock Statements.

“Any property holding stock, even if it’s just one horse, a donkey or an alpaca, must have a PIC. Without a PIC, horses and other stock are not legally allowed to take part in shows, exhibitions or other events. A PIC is also required when a horse is bought, sold or agisted.

“A PIC is a crucial biosecurity tool. If there is a disease outbreak PIC records contain vital details that can help trace horse movements, contain disease spread, and inform warnings and alerts to other horse owners.”

Owners of small acreages can apply for a PIC from any Local Land Services office or online.

Horse owners will also need a Transported Stock Statement (TSS) in NSW if they move a horse in a vehicle from its home location to a different property. However a TSS is not required if a horse is being driven to or from a show, gymkhana or other event, or if it is being transported for veterinary treatment.

The TSS records stock details, ownership, the name of the carrier and the destination, and can be used to help trace stolen stock and to trace disease outbreaks. TSS forms can be purchased for $1 each (individually or in books) from any Local Land Services office. Livestock owners can be fined for failure to produce a TSS if requested by the Stock Squad or authorised officers.

“People who keep horses on a small property may not see themselves as the target of biosecurity messages about animal health and disease control,” said Nigel.

“However poor biosecurity can create serious risks not just for individuals but also for their families and the entire agricultural sector.

“A disease like Hendra virus that can spread from animals to humans, is a prime example of a potentially deadly health risk that can be prevented through appropriate biosecurity measures such as vaccination and good hygiene,” said Nigel.

Diseases, insect pests, worms, and weed seeds can all be spread by horses or through dirt, manure and animal fluids on people and equipment. Clothing, boots, buckets, rugs, bridles and brushes, as well as vehicles, floats and trailers can easily spread contaminants.

Basic hygiene practices such as cleaning gear and washing down vehicles before and after attending an event can help reduce biosecurity risks.

“Responsible horse owners think about the impact their horse management will have on other people’s horses and other animals. However implementing effective biosecurity measures will require knowledge and information so seek advice from your veterinarian,” said Nigel.

‘Horses for Courses’ workshops on Equine Management on Small Acres will be hosted by Southern New England Landcare (SNELC) in Armidale and GWYMAC in Inverell in May, 2017. Register your interest with SNELC on 02 6772 9123 or GWYMAC on 02 6721 1241.

For more information about equine biosecurity contact your nearest Local Land Services office.

Media contact: Annabelle Monie 0429 626 326, 02 6720 8317