Major first for Gatton vet school
FARM biosecurity planning has been included for the first time into the University of Queensland's School of Veterinary Science course curriculum to improve outcomes for farms and animals across the country.
Catering to the many biosecurity needs, regulatory requirements and industry standards of practice in the many different sectors in the livestock production system can be challenging even for the most experienced veterinarians.
From large-scale, multi-property commercial enterprises to hobby farmers looking after a lifestyle block, there are a number of measures that can be to put in place to mitigate biosecurity risks.
In an effort to equip the next generation of veterinarians with this wealth of knowledge they need, Livestock Biosecurity Network (LBN) has teamed up with University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science to include on-farm biosecurity planning in the third year veterinary curriculum.
LBN is an industry initiative servicing all sectors of the sheep and cattle industries aiming to improve the knowledge and understanding of animal health, welfare and biosecurity among key stakeholders.
It also works with government and industry partners to help protect livestock industries from emergency animal diseases.
"Biosecurity planning helps students realise the importance of taking the entire farming system into account when trying to manage disease and animal product safety risks," course coordinator Dr David McNeill said.
"They must consider the system from the ground up and right along the food and fibre supply chain to the consumer that could be anywhere in the world.
"That's why we teach students to step back and look at the big picture of the enterprise, understanding how the regulatory requirements support the ongoing trade capacity of our livestock industries."
Encouraging students to think more holistically about livestock systems also builds their confidence in helping their clients comply with biosecurity requirements.
The University of Queensland currently ranks in the top 100 of universities in the world and Dr McNeill said this proactive approach to student learning and real world issues placed students in a prime position to advance as professionals of the future.
The course also prepares students who will work with production animals in the future, whether on commercial enterprises or smaller hobby farms.
"For many small and hobby farmers, the local vet may be the only person with biosecurity knowledge they ever come into contact with," said Northern Australia LBN regional officer Dr Sarah-Jane Wilson, who helps teach at UQ's vet school.
"For instance, many lifestyle farmers are not aware they need to register for a property identification code, even if they have just one head of livestock. We are assisting the students in understanding the mandatory elements of keeping livestock and exposing them to theoretical case studies that include real world biosecurity issues, to help prepare them for almost every eventuality."
Dr Wilson said UQ's training program would help strengthen the livestock industry's capacity to manage biosecurity risks and deal with them, should they occur.