SE farmers raise issue of footrot

SE farmers have called for changes to criteria for loading crippled animals to enable them to still be sold.

Shepherd's Hill farmer Jack England raised the issue regarding footrot at the inaugural Livestock SA SE group meeting last week.

"As farmers are unable to sell lame livestock anymore, cripples are being retained on properties to be consumed either by dogs or farmers," he said. 

"These cripples are the most likely source of footrot retention and spread and are now staying on farms for longer." 

Mr England said rates of zinc sulphate and foot bath purchases had gone up exponentially this year, which he attributed to footrot and previous wet winters.

These animals may still have potential to be commercially valuable, perhaps if sold direct to slaughterhouses or feedlots.

"I see this as an opportunity to have the 'fit to load' criteria reviewed," Mr England said.

Beachport's Mark Wheal said the fit to load criteria was an animal welfare issue.

"The people enforcing it are the truck drivers who have animal welfare at heart," he said.

Mr England said care needed to be used in regards to welfare.

"The animals are loaded on the proviso they won't go down in the crate," he said.

Mr Wheal: "How do you know that?"

Conmurra's Rohan Giles said it would be acceptable to load lame animals as long as they weren't paraded in public.

"That's fine as long as you don't send them to the saleyards where everybody can get a look at them," he said.

Mr Wheal said even if crippled animals are sold direct to abattoirs, surveillance cameras in those facilities could capture images of diseased and distressed animals which in turn become ammunition for those opposed to the meat industry.

Primary Industries and Regions SA manager of disease control Peter Nosworthy was present at the meeting and disagreed with the idea of being able to sell lame animals.

"It (footrot) is a notifiable disease," he said. "You can't just flog them off."

Mr England: "Would you rather have a vet come down and put them down on farm and then leave?

"I just think footrot is one of the biggest cost inhibitors we have."

Millicent's Peter Altschwager advocated being able to sell lame livestock.

"Without being cruel to the animals we should be able to sell it at the saleyards," he said.

A motion was put forward that Livestock SA liaise with other relevant industry bodies, including SA Sheep Advisory Group, regarding possible changes to fit to load rules to more adequately provide for saleable stock which might be suitable for consignment to saleyards to be sold direct to slaughter. The motion was passed by members.

Mr Altschwager urged caution about what bodies they liaised with.

The issue of footrot was raised at the inaugural Livestock SA SE group meeting in Lucindale last week.

The issue of footrot was raised at the inaugural Livestock SA SE group meeting in Lucindale last week.