Animal health surveillance

The Department of Agriculture 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 and 2019 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. Those who provide services to producers (for example vets and stock agents) are also encouraged to participate.

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

The Small Farms Network hosted several workshops for stock farmers.

Participants learned from vets, butchers and other invited speakers about animal disease identification and reporting. They also gained practical skills and ideas for managing farm biosecurity and minimising disease. Summaries of these events (including useful resources) are available online at the Small Farms Network events page.

Stock farmers can continue to seek disease management advice and report any changes in livestock health after the event by contacting Local Land Services, who will put you in touch with a veterinarian.

Western Australia

n WA an industry-led surveillance network was developed in the southwest and southern region of the state. The network includes producers, stock agents, agricultural consultants and on-plant veterinarians.

A series of veterinarian-led workshops focused on biosecurity practices, disease detection, reporting and investigation . Following the workshops, producers reported disease signs using an SMS reporting system. The system permits regular sharing of de-identified disease intelligence. For more information, visit the project website.


Queensland’s South Burnett Grazing Network has initiated a branded marketing program which rates participating cattle producers based on (among other criteria) monitoring of herd health. Network members also learned about safe, low-stress livestock handling at a practical workshop. The training will assist them to monitor the health of their cattle.


Tasmania piloted a free, confidential reporting service involving a network of livestock producers and service providers (vets, stock agents, contractors and others). The free monthly livestock health reports are published on the network’s website. Information collected through the service is shared with producers and other stakeholders.

Participating producers and service providers received free advice from a coordinating private vet about disease management and whether further disease investigation i s required.

Reported signs of disease provide a picture of livestock health across Tasmania.

Having better information about livestock disease issues improves the support vets and other service providers provide to producers. Vets may use this information to inform diagnoses, advise on changing disease risks and suggest preventative strategies.

Survey of abattoir workers

This 2018 project surveyed staff from small domestic abattoirs and knackeries in NSW about disease recognition, reporting and communication. The survey also asked businesses how they provided feedback to producers about signs of disease in carcasses and relevant farm control measures.

The project was 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).

Based on the survey findings, the department funded a national project to increase emergency animal disease preparedness and surveillance by domestic abattoirs and knackeries. Mintrac, in consultation with industry and government, is delivering training throughout 2019 and 2020. The initiative is funded under the Australian Government's Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

Last reviewed: 12 August 2021
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