Australia’s northern live cattle export industry is calling for
consistency in how bovine Johne’s disease (BJD) is managed.
Following deregulation of the management of the animal wasting
condition in South Australia and Queensland, the Northern
Territory and Western Australia have adopted the Johne’s Beef
Assurance Score (J-BAS), which rates a property’s biosecurity
risk on a scale of zero to eight.
The NT Government announced on Wednesday it would adopt a J-BAS 6, which
required producers moving cattle in or out of the NT, to have a
biosecurity plan in place, with no history of the disease being
present for the past five years.
While Western Australia has an interim positon on BJD
management, it is currently operating at J-BAS 8, which
requires veterinary involvement and animal testing.
Northern Territory Livestock Exporters Association CEO Stuart
Kemp said the differing criteria between the NT and WA will
cause problems for the cross-border trade of cattle.
“We represent the live export industries that service ports
from Freemantle to Townsville and limiting the catchment is not
helpful,” he said.
“We would like to see all of the north operating as one big
zone with limited restriction.
“If WA does decide on J-BAS 7 or 8, an NT company or individual
that relies on that particular supply chain, across the WA
border, would have to do some testing and other things on farm
to maintain access to the WA ports.”
A number of NT stations, particularly in the western Victoria
River District, use the Wyndham port in the Kimberley for live
export, trucking cattle over the WA border.
Cattle in WA that come from a location holding a J-BAS 8, would
be able to enter the NT without issue.
However the reverse trade, cattle from NT or Queensland being
sent into WA, need to originate from a property holding a J-BAS
8, but concessions are available allowing properties with J-BAS
ABC Rural understands a number of operators, including large
pastoral companies, are considering maintaining a higher J-BAS
score regardless of the NT’s decision this week.
Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association CEO Catherine
Marriott said it was likely WA would maintain J-BAS 8 while a
review was conducted.
“There is extensive testing of high-risk properties going to be
undertaken, particularly with southern, more intensive
operations until June 30, 2018,” she said.
“From there they’ll have a better idea of what the extent of
the disease is and they’ll revisit what we do from there.
“If cattle are going straight through to an abattoir, they are
indeed able to do that, but for people wanting to bring in
bulls or replacement heifers or other cattle to fatten and turn
off, they will require from that property some testing.”
Queensland graziers wanting to sell export cattle, restockers
or breeder animals into the NT will need a biosecurity plan to
meet J-BAS 6, despite the Queensland Government deregulating the management of BJD
AgForce Queensland welcomed the decision by the NT to accept
cattle from Queensland, providing the required paperwork was
Board director Peter Hall said the downgrading in scores meant
the onus would remain on graziers to prove they were BJD free.
“Cattle, when they go that way [into the NT], have to have a
cattle health declaration and you can only fill one of those
out if you have a biosecurity plan in place,” he said.
“There are two places you can access the biosecurity plan. You
can get one from the Livestock Biosecurity Network or the
Animal Health Australia website has a fairly simple template.
“If you’re a purchaser of cattle, collecting cattle to send
them to live export and the requirements for those cattle are
that they be J-BAS 6, any cattle you purchase on to your
property have to come from a property that is J-BAS 6 and to
verify that, you should be asking for a cattle health
The management of BJD in SA is completely deregulated.
A number of NT producers purchase bulls and breeder cattle from
the south to supplement their herds.
Similarly, thousands of NT cattle are sold into southern
markets and abattoirs given the bos taurus breeds are common to
Livestock SA president Geoff Power said he did not expect the
NT’s new J-BAS 6 requirement to affect the cattle trade with
“We take biosecurity seriously and I don’t think it’s too
onerous for people to get cattle into the Territory from South
Australia with a J-BAS 6,” he said.
“Most people who have been sending bulls to the Territory have
been possibly on a Market Assurance Program, and it wouldn’t be
all that difficult for them to create themselves a biosecurity
“We also have people who own properties in South Australia as
well as stations in the NT, and there are also station owners
that have property that traverses both the NT and South