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TAS Country : March 22nd 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012 Tasmanian Country 21 News Dairy conference Farmers count cost KAROLIN MacGREGOR Sheep measles rife but can be prevented GROWING PROBLEM: David Jenkins with a heart infected with sheep measles TASMANIAN farmers will be part of a project aimed at combating the growing problem of sheep measles across the country. While sheep measles do not affect humans, the disease is costing the country's sheep meat industry signifi- cantly each year. Researcher and parasite expert David Jenkins is part of Meat and Livestock Australia's sheep measles project that is aimed at identifying risk factors concerned with the dis- ease and actual financial costs to producers and industry. In the next few weeks, farmers in Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia will be sent out questionnaires to help gather infor- mation about sheep measles. The questionnaires, which are vol- untary, will be used to provide a clearer picture about what is happen- ing on farm. Mr Jenkins said while sheep meas- les had been around for a long time, reports indicated the problem was getting worse and some processors were losing substantial amounts of money because of the issue. There are also concerns that the measles could potentially jeopardise overseas markets if any infected meat is accidentally exported. Sheep measles are caused by a parasite infection from the cystic intermediate stage of the dog sheep measles tapeworm. Sheep ingest tapeworm eggs while grazing on pasture that has been contaminated with dog faeces which contain the eggs. These eggs then hatch in the sheeps' intestines and the larvae pass into the bloodstream. The larvae end up in the sheep's muscles and other organs like the heart where they develop into cysts which contain the head of the next generation of tapeworm. If these cysts are then eaten by dogs, they become infected with the sheep measles tapeworm and the cycle continues. Mr Jenkins said while the measles did not seem to cause any major issues for the dogs or sheep affected, it was the cysts found in infected sheeps' muscles that were a major issue for meat processors. Sheep measles is also very difficult to diagnose while the animal is still alive and is often only discovered once they have been processed. ''We've had reports from some processors that they're having to get rid of dozens of sheep carcases every day because of sheep measles,'' Mr Jenkins said. ''That's a huge cost and when you add that up across the industry, it's a big problem.'' Controlling sheep measles, how- ever, is relatively straightforward. Mr Jenkins said if dogs had access to dead sheep or raw sheep meat, they should be wormed every four to six weeks, otherwise every two to three months was fine. Where possible, dogs should not be fed fresh sheep meat. Meat either needs to be thoroughly cooked or frozen for 14 days to kill the tapeworms in the cysts. On farm, dogs should also be prevented from having access to dead sheep and should be confined in a cage or on a chain when not working. Mr Jenkins said one of the aims of the project was to develop a molecular test to screen dog faeces to find out if they were infected with the tape worm and to also come up with an education package for sheep producers. The project is also being supported by Animal Health Australia, the Sheepmeat Council of Australia and Wool Producers Australia. State can lap up global cream IAN HALLIDAY: Production up KAROLIN MacGREGOR TASMANIA is ideally placed to take advantage of the booming demand for dairy products across the globe. This was one of the key messages at this week's Tasmanian Dairy Confer- ence in Ulverstone. About 150 farmers and industry representatives attended the confer- ence, which had the theme ''Pastures, Processors and Productivity''. Dairy Australia managing director Ian Halliday gave conference partici- pants a run-down of the Australian dairy industry's latest production fig- ures and outlook. Mr Halliday told the conference that despite flooding in some areas this month, good seasonal conditions across most dairying regions had boosted production levels. Nationally, production was expected tobeupby4percentthisyearto 9.5 billion litres. In Tasmania, production has lifted by an impressive 10.5 per cent for the year to date. Mr Halliday said in the domestic market, price and consumption of cheese was under pressure. Some of that might be attributed to health-marketing campaigns targeting a reduction in dairy product consump- tion. The milk price war also has pushed down prices for drinking milk, which is adversely affecting farmers, particu- larly in New South Wales and Queens- land. Across the country, a shortage of labour was a major problem facing the industry. Mr Halliday said despite the chal- lenges, there was plenty to be positive about. ''Tasmania has clearly demonstrated its capacity to grow while other parts of the country struggle with market shocks and difficult climatic con- ditions,'' he said. ''We need to keep focusing on new technology and developing people if we're going to keep the industry growing.'' The conference's keynote speaker was CSIRO Sustainable Agriculture Flagship deputy director Bronwyn Harch, who said food security was a complex issue and many factors were involved. ''Business as usual will not solve food security and environmental sustain- ability issues for the globe,'' she told the conference. ''There needs to be local- based solutions.'' Population growth was a major factor in food security and current predictions show the global population could increase from 7 billion now to 9 billion by 2050. Dr Harch said at present about 1.5 billion people across the globe were obese while about one in six people were undernourished. Food wastage was another issue that would have to be addressed. Dr Harch said each year about 1.3 billion tonnes of food was wasted. Australia had a high level of food security and exports about 60 per cent of the food produced in the country. Farmers in Australia produced about 1 per cent of the world's food and about 3 per cent of the world's traded food. Dr Harch said solving food security issues would require a strategic ap- proach that would need to include being aware of food demand changes, reducing wastage, readjusting over consumption in the human diet and rebalancing the livestock component in future diets. VDL opens new $4m dairy farm ROGER HANSON TASMANIA'S newest dairy farm opened this week. Australia's largest dairy operation, the Van Diemen's Land Company (VDL), opened its $4 million Cape Barren dairy farm at Woolnorth in the far North-West. As part of the VDL's broader expansion plans, the 350ha dairy farm was created from existing cleared farmland which had been used for cattle grazing. The development is a boost for Circular Head and the state's dairy industry. The new dairy is expected to create five to six full-time jobs. It will have 750 cows in pasture increasing to 1000 cows next year. The milk production will be con- tracted to Fonterra. Circular Head Mayor Daryl Quil- liam said the opening is another positive for the district's agricultural industry. The new farm is in addition to the $4.25 million of funding for the AgriTas training college and the $1.5 million Harcus River road project. ''This investment by the Van Die- men's Land Company is just part of the company's plans to extend pro- duction in the area,'' Mayor Quilliam said. He said VDL's future plans for the area, worth $180 million, were a key part of the region's future. ''With increasing demand not only in the Asian market, but also from the powdered milk factory currently in development, it is essential that we are able to have adequate milk supply.'' ''This will obviously be comple- mented by the AgriTas trade college, which will help ensure that we have the skills necessary to fulfil that demand.'' The VDL Company, which is one of the largest dairy operations in the world, was established by royal char- ter in Tasmania in 1825 by King George IV. It currently has 23 farms located in North West Tasmania, including the historic Woolnorth property.
March 15th 2012
March 29th 2012