Promoting biosecurity awareness among small landholders

Monday 5 Jun 2017

Marta Hernandez JoverThey may have a couple of cows or a few goats but research through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation is focused on small landholder livestock producers, biosecurity and animal health surveillance.

"When it comes to surveillance for animal health or in the event of an Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) it doesn't matter if you have 10 animals or 10 000, every producer has an important role to play," said Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover (pictured), a senior lecturer in epidemiology and veterinary public health at Charles Sturt University's (CSU) School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences.

Dr Hernandez-Jover said the research highlights the diversity among these producers, commonly called smallholder producers.

"Our study involved a wide range of smallholder livestock producers, including those keeping sheep, cattle, pigs, alpacas or poultry," Dr Hernandez-Jover said.

"They may be hobby farmers, tree changers, small landholders or those who live in peri-urban areas.

"We found there's diversity in terms of animals kept, their motivation for keeping animals and their cultural background. The research also shows there's a need for building awareness of biosecurity.

"With the reduction in government resources for providing services to these producers, the lack of specific industry bodies representing them and the lack of formal communication networks for smallholders, we need to better understand how to engage these producers with biosecurity and animal health management."

It's been an area of research interest for the team at the Graham Centre for the last decade, working in conjunction with the University of Sydney and Macquarie University.

"We also wanted to identify what and who influences the most small livestock producers' animal management practices and how to use these influences to support them in their everyday on-farm activities in relation to disease management" Dr Hernandez-Jover said.

"We found that producers are concerned about the health of their animals and regularly inspect livestock but there is limited implementation of biosecurity practices on-farm.

"Veterinarians and other producers are seen as the most trusted source of information.

"This information is important in helping us understand how to provide better biosecurity information and to engage with smallholder producers to increase their capacity for animal disease surveillance."

Dr Hernandez-Jover will present findings of the research at a workshop targeted for private veterinarians on Friday 9 June as part of the Australian Veterinary Association's annual conference in Melbourne.


Media contact: Emily Malone, 6933 4401 or 0439 552 385

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover contact Graham Centre communications and web officer Ms Emily Malone on mobile 0439 552 385 or email

Dr Hernandez-Jover, Dr Rob Woodgate, Dr Luzia Rast, Associate Professor Vaughan Higgins and Ms Lynne Hayes from CSU, Associate Professor Jenny-Ann Toribio from the University of Sydney, and Dr Melanie Taylor from Macquarie University have been involved in the research. It is part of a portfolio of research in smallholder producers, partially funded by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, the NSW Department of Primary Industries, and the Rural Industry Research and Development Corporation, and supported by the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation.