Article Summary: Agriculture Victoria’s Animal Disease Program has recently launched an eight-part training series online to ensure a safe and disease-free environment for all people, wildlife and livestock. Of these eight, three modules provide livestock-specific training and are available to all Victorian farmers, livestock producers, hobby farmers, small landholders, farm workers and visitors. These learning modules aim to give farmers the confidence and assurance of protecting their animals, the state of Victoria, and Australia, from serious diseases, including foot-and-mouth disease and lumpy skin disease.
Farmers across Victoria have begun to benefit from a series of free online eLearning modules, helping them protect their animals from diseases and threats to Australia’s biosecurity.
Agriculture Victoria’s Animal Disease Program has recently launched an eight-part training series online to ensure a safe and disease-free environment for all people, wildlife and livestock. Of these eight, three modules provide livestock-specific training and are available to you if you are a:
farm worker, or even
a farm visitor.
All course modules are free of charge to participate in and are available online at The Department of Agriculture’s website.
The three farming-specific online modules cover the impacts that certain animal diseases would have on Australia’s farming industry. It also covers how farmers can reduce farm risks through common-sense, low-cost, easy-to-adopt initiatives.
Because biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility, implementing good practices on your property and ensuring visitors follow those practices will avoid serious consequences for animals, trade and the economy.
These learning modules aim to give you, the farmer, confidence and assurance that you are doing everything necessary to protect your animals, the state of Victoria, and Australia, from serious diseases, including foot-and-mouth disease and lumpy skin disease.
Available through Agriculture Victoria’s website, you can benefit from the following learning modules:
Each module takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, but you must create an online account first to track your progress and save your results.
Foot-and-mouth disease and the threat to Victorian farms
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and lumpy skin disease are not currently present in Australia. However, there are always risks with outbreaks in neighbouring countries and travel back to pre-COVID levels.
According to modelling by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), a large multi-state outbreak of FMD could cost Australia over $80 billion over a decade. It’s considered one of Australia’s greatest biosecurity risks.
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a serious and extremely contagious disease that affects sheep, cattle, goats, deer, pigs and camelids like camels, alpacas and llamas. These cloven-hooved animals have a split toe, typical of animals on meat and dairy farms. FMD can also be found in soil, bones, on footwear and clothing.
Symptoms present themselves as:
Reluctance to move/lethargy
Painful blisters on the mouth, snout, tongue, lips and hooves, which may stay intact or rupture.
As of December 2022, there are known outbreaks of FMD in Indonesia, including Bali, which increases the risk of transmission into Australia. On a positive note, 11 regions of Indonesia are currently reporting zero cases, and a nationwide vaccination program is underway to try to control the prevalence of this devastating disease. In 2022, there are no reported cases of the disease in Australia, Timor Leste or Papua New Guinea.
Lumpy skin disease and the threat to Victoria.
Like FMD, lumpy skin disease (LSD) has been detected in neighbouring countries to Australia, including Indonesia, and also poses a costly and devastating risk to the farming industry.
LSD is a disease spread by biting insects like flies, midges, and mosquitos. Typically affecting water buffalo and cattle, it has never been recorded in Australia but is becoming an increasing threat as it spreads throughout Asia. Incubation is anywhere from 4 to 28 days, meaning it can be difficult to trace.
Symptoms present themselves as:
Eye and/or mouth discharge
Decreased milk yield in dairy cattle
Fever over 41 degrees celsius
Rapid loss of body condition
Firm skin lumps of 2-5cm diameter, presenting on head, neck, limbs, udder and back-end within 48 hours of fever onset
Animals that do recover are often in poor condition for an extended amount of time. Those that do not regain their condition may need to be euthanised. Thankfully, 95% of animals recover, but it is extremely unpleasant for the animals infected and can potentially halt the Australian farming industry.
While there are no LSD vaccines currently available in Australia, the government could access live-attenuated vaccines (using a weakened version of the virus) from overseas in case of a widespread outbreak. If, however, these vaccines were utilised, Australia would lose their regaled disease-free status, and while unlikely, they could cause infection in healthy animals. Also, using the LSD vaccine may not meet strict import standards for Australian livestock, meaning longer-term impacts ont he economy.
Because of the threats these diseases pose to the biosecurity of Australian farms, it’s crucial you, and all Victorian livestock owners and agriculture workers know to take appropriate biosecurity actions.
Victoria’s agricultural sector is growing and stronger than ever. To ensure it stays that way, it is recommended everyone in the industry spend an hour completing these high-value learning modules. If you know anyone who can benefit from this training, it’s in everyone’s best interest to spread the word.
While only currently available to Victorians, it is hoped this eLearning program will roll out at a federal level. To keep Australia safe and prepared for biosecurity threats, it makes sense for livestock owners and workers in all states and territories to take advantage of the learning on offer.
Until we meet again, Happy Farming!
- The Dedicated Team of Pasture.io, 2022-12-08