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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2012
28 SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MUSTER 2012 Words from the Farm Michael and wife Cathy manage the family- owned Bally Glunin Park property near Hamilton -- 1800 hectares where they run superfine Merinos, crossbreds, Hereford and Limousin cattle and crop cereals and oaten hay for fodder. In recognition of his on-farm achievements, Michael was the first Australian Biosecurity Farmer of the Year title in the livestock category in 2010. Michael developed an interest in quality assurance after working in glass manufacturing. When he returned home to the family farm in the early 1970s, he used the principles of quality assurance learned outside agriculture to form the basis of a farm plan that would ensure the business was as productive and environmentally sustainable as possible and followed sound animal welfare practices. Michael and Cathy's property complies with about 12 quality assurance programs, such as Meat Standards Australia, Cattlecare and Flockcare. They were also involved in trialing some QA programs. The property is operated as a 'closed farm' to ensure it remains weed, pest and disease free. Rams and bulls are only bought from reputable breeders and are kept in isolation paddocks and monitored for health problems before introduction into the flock or herd. All property visitors must abide by biosecurity signs posted around the farm and sheds and visitors must enter the property through the one controlled entry and exit point. When stock is transported to market, transport operators must arrive with clean trucks and no other stock on board. Michael says correct preventable contamination can save many thousands of Safeguarding his property against potential biosecurity threats makes good business sense for south-west Victorian woolgrower Michael Blake. dollars in costs to rectify problems once they have occurred. "Undoubtedly biosecurity is an important fundamental management practice for maintaining a profitable business," he said. "For example when I buy replacement bulls they are held in an isolation yard for a period of time to empty gut fill and parasites. "The yard is left empty for six months and observed for another six months. From last year's bull purchases the gut-fill included paddy melon seeds which germinated in the yard. "There were over 50 plants each with 10 to 15 small paddy melons growing. Without this security program those seeds would have spread through whatever paddock the bulls could have been put in." Michael says detailed farm records are essential to good biosecurity. "Recording stock movements, animal health administration, product usage, dose rates, withholding periods are key components for disease tracking as well as controlled traffic and visitors," he said. "I have had a number of situations where some or all of the examples have enabled us to quickly track problems, develop solutions and implement preventative measures." Michael says the extent of premiums gained from thorough biosecurity practices can depend on the enterprise but they are available. Removing external chemical use in his wool clip has opened up markets in the EU, at premium prices. "Some of our end users consider us priority suppliers so that also supports better prices," he said. "Maintaining clean lamb pelts also gains premium prices, for example no brands, raddles, stain or dags." Deanna Lush National sheep and wool journalist