No Ticks for Biosecurity

By BRIAN TESSMANN, QDO President

There is increasing concern in many Queensland regions around the future management of cattle tick and particularly how the current protected area is divided up and managed under the new biosecurity Legislation. As I said last week I believe all producers should be involved in the changes in biosecurity regulations, particularly those producers in and around the tick protected areas need to be actively involved in any movements in the tick line. Ticks are a major problem for the cattle industries in Queensland and an issue worth serious and determined measures to reduce its impact on these industries.

Cattle tick is an infestation of significant concern for the states dairy industry as cows producing milk for human consumption are not able to be treated with some chemicals that are available to beef producers. Under the new biosecurity legislation Tick management should be done via two defined biosecurity zones but has no allowance for the protected type zone. It is hoped that this will mean management in the tick free area should be tighter with less chance of tick outbreaks and more ability to clear up if they occur.

It is of vital importance under the new regulations that the tick line is more secure than in the past. The issue that is concerning many is how the Protected zone is incorporated into this two zone system. I think most people involved would hope that the vast majority, if not all, of the protected zone will be incorporated into the tick free zone. The issues that will cause some challenge will be any region of the protected zone that has still been tick infested through the region’s time as a protected zone.

An even more vexing issue will be what to do if the current line between the tick protected and tick infected zones is very insecure. It is known and widely accepted that while some natural features may provide some barrier to tick movement, the best barrier is a manmade structure such as a road that is fenced on both sides. The problem is that in some places the current line is a single boundary fence but in some of these situations the surrounding property owners have worked very hard towards obtaining freedom from ticks and deserve consideration in how this new legislation is implemented.

It is also important that farmers are given the opportunity and provide input into the process at a local level. While industry organisations such as QDO will give support where appropriate the best input is from the landholders who live in the area. Another issue is how new regions can be included into the tick free regions if the majority of farmers in that region wish to eradicate the regions tick problem. It is also important in any consideration of Queensland’s tick management is how ticks are managed and chemical resistance decreased in the tick population in the tick infected area. Many dairy farmers in the tick infected region work hard to reduce tick incidence only to have their efforts set back by unknowingly bringing in ticks with high chemical resistance.

From a dairy industry point of view the imperative is to get more dairy farms free of ticks and one way of doing that is to move the line to the north east. We certainly do not want it sliding backward and undoing all the good work by farmers over many years. I hope the government wants to tick the same objective.