Backyard Biosecurity - biosecurity measures for small landholders

It is important that all livestock owners - small, new, established, and commercial - take their biosecurity responsibilities seriously.

Good biosecurity practices protect your livestock from pests and diseases and help to protect your neighbour’s livestock and the broader livestock industry.

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Protecting Alpacas

Lynda operates a young and progressive alpaca and miniature donkey stud in Belgrave South. Her farm is home to between 50-80 alpacas and a small herd of donkeys on 20 acres of highly productive pasture. Watch the video to learn how Lynda is keeping her alpaca’s safe.

Lynda Holdsworth:

My name's Lynda Holdsworth, and together with my family, we run Auravale Alpacas and Miniature Donkeys here in the Dandenong Ranges. So, on a day-to-day basis, I would check my alpacas each morning to make sure that they're all well.

I also usually need to put feed out from my alpacas, such as hay and maybe some grains, depending on the time of the year. On certain times of the month, we also bring them into our sheds and check them more thoroughly or perform other husbandry duties.

Biosecurity is really important for me and it is for the wellbeing of my animals. Because by having good biosecurity measures, I can prevent unwanted parasites and diseases coming onto my property, and that, in the end, ensures my animals stay healthy.

So, we manage external biosecurity risks by ensuring that any visitors onto the property only come into the driveway area. They also are allowed in the shedding, but we do have special solutions to make sure that their feet are clean.

We also don't allow any animals onto the property without going through our quarantine procedures. That's our stone yards, our shedding, quarantine, drenching, making sure that the animals, checking them over, that they're, well, they haven't got any signs of disease, and they do stay in this area for a period of time. And then they also go into our quarantine paddock which is separate from the rest of our herd.

Our experience in developing a plan, which was a long time ago now, it was probably 14 years ago when we first developed our biosecurity plan, was really just to be educated, because there was so much information we really didn't understand or didn't know. We were from the suburbs, had no idea about farming really. So it was very important for us to be educated on what the risks were.

To strengthen biosecurity in Victoria in particular, I would like to see alpaca farmers using the Alpaca CheQA program, which is available through the Australian Alpaca Association. It's a very simple program.

It's online, it leads you to a lot of information from different areas, Agriculture Victoria being one of them, and it just provides a lot of information that will really help you implement a biosecurity system on your farm.

Speaker 2:

Authorized by the Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne.

High stakes on the Highland cattle farm

Erica breeds Scottish Highland cattle on a five-acre farm in Traralgon. Erica shows her cattle and runs events to connect people with learning disabilities to nature and agriculture. Watch the video to learn how Erica is keeping her cattle safe.

Erica Smith:

My name's Erica. I have a small acreage in Traralgon and I run stud beef, breeding and showing Highland cattle.

Day-to-day is just checking the cattle. It gets a bit busy around show season. So, when the show periods are on, it's a little bit more busy. We have to halter train and prep them for the show, but just generally it's just feeding and making sure everything's okay.

Biosecurity is such an important thing for myself, for my animals, for the industry as a whole. I need to consider the health and wellbeing of my animals. If we ended up with an outbreak of some sort, they would be impacted. The industry, I think, as a whole, would be devastated by something major. And from a personal perspective, our little farm probably wouldn't recover from something like that.

My biggest risk for biosecurity comes from probably a couple of places. Showing brings in an element of risk. We are obviously taking our animals off farm to somewhere else and interacting them with another. So we do as much as we can to minimize exposure there.

And then within the farm, it's considering the risks that might come from neighboring properties. My dam is actually filled from neighboring properties. So in the event of when we've got heavy rain and the water's coming in, I need to consider where that's coming from, what the quality's going to do, and how the animals can access it.

So when was I creating my biosecurity plan, Agriculture Victoria have a great website that allows us to have some templates. I use the LPA Integrity Systems template for mine. It's a template you can go through. It prompts you with the questions that you need to know. You don't have to think about the questions yourself, the prompts are there.

If you don't already have a biosecurity plan and you're feeling overwhelmed by it, don't be. Jump on the website, get a template, start small. The smallest step that you can take right now is one step towards a better biosecurity future for everyone

Speaker 2:

Authorized by Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne.

Safeguarding the genetics

Nat and Jono run a regenerative farm in Blampied where they have British White cattle, Berkshire pigs and Finn sheep on 148 acres of rich volcanic soils. Watch the video to learn how Nat and Jono are keeping their pigs safe.

Natalie Hardy:

I'm Natalie Hardy from Brooklands Free Range Farms in Blampied. We're a regenerative farm, meaning we look after the soils first here.

The most important thing is our soils and with this amazing soil health that we have here, the animal health follows through as well.

My husband, Jono, he feeds the pigs here morning and night and checking the cattle as well regularly, too, especially during the calving times. I'm doing some stuff as well on the farm, helping out. We do our own marketing because we're a paddock-to-plate business, talking to customers, which is really important in educating people, too, with regards to what we do here.

Biosecurity is extremely important to us because we don't want to lose the genetic diversity we have here. If a disease outbreak occurred, it could even occur at a neighbor's property, we would still be within a risk area and, therefore, our whole lifestyle, the farm, all our animals would be gone.

It was a really great experience developing our biosecurity plan. There was so much information on the websites, but the great thing was the actual workshop. There was so much advice there, so much help. The people there were really extremely helpful and I literally walked out of there with a plan.

For our biosecurity precautions on the farm, we have a book, we've got a signing page. We also ask the questions, "Where have you been? Have your boots been on other farms?" We have boot washes, we've got signage. I think asking the questions is the most important thing as well.

One of the things I recommend to new farmers is to look up the Agriculture Victoria website and also there's a new program out, which is an online course called Come Clean, Stay Clean, Go Clean.

Speaker 2:

Authorized by Victorian Government, One Treasury Place, Melbourne.

Not kidding with biosecurity

Rhonda has a hobby farm in Drouin, where she looks after a variety of goats, including Nigerian Dwarfs and Dairy mix breeds as well as one Saanen Goat on her five-acre property. Watch the video to learn how Rhonda is keeping her goats safe.

Rhonda Patton:

My name's Rhonda Patton. My husband and I live in Drouin South, and we have a five-acre farm that has dairy goats on it.

Day-to-day, we milk. Obviously, we milk every day. We've got feeding and kid feeding, obviously. We have animal husbandry chores to do that are required. We're still doing property improvements, as we've only been here two years. And then if we're really lucky and it's a beautiful day, we just sit on the verandah and enjoy it.

The biggest biosecurity concerns for us are the introduction of CAE or JD, drench-resistant worms. Because we're in a high rainfall area, we don't really have a lot of heat to kill the worms. Plus, we also like to keep a high grass cover, which doesn't allow them to be baked on the earth.

The biosecurity steps we take are to try and change our footwear. Generally, normally, we have work boots here, and off-property footwear. We test all of our animals, and if I was to purchase any, they go into a quarantine paddock and we follow the MLA LPA guidelines.

Managing your own pest and disease risks is testing your animals, quarantining, and trying to change your boots. That's the really basic things for us.

Speaker 2:

Authorized by Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne.

What is biosecurity?

Biosecurity refers to measures that limit the likelihood of introducing and spreading diseases, pests and weeds. Biosecurity measures can be very simple, are often low cost and can become part of a regular routine.

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Having good farm biosecurity will prevent the spread of diseases, pests and weeds. Simple actions you can take on your property now will protect your livestock if there is a disease incursion, such as foot-and-mouth disease.

Visit the Practical biosecurity steps on your farm page for more information about what you can do to protect your farm.

Emergency animal diseases (EADs) such as foot-and-mouth and lumpy skin disease have the potential to cause devastating impacts to our livestock industry.

While Victoria is fortunate to be free of most of the serious diseases that affect animals in other parts of the world, it is important to be aware of potential diseases that could impact your animals.

Visit the emergency animal diseases page for more information, including what to do if you have any concerns about the health of your animals.

Complete the free online training on topics like foot-and-mouth disease, lumpy skin disease, livestock standstill and staying safe while visiting farms. To get started, browse the module here.

Invasive plants and pest animals threaten and impact Victorian farms, parks, forests, waterways, biodiversity and catchment assets.

As a landholder, you are responsible for making sure that your property is free from any invasive plants and animals.

Find out more about weeds and pest animals.

Marine pests are highly invasive, non-native animals and plants that can cause significant harm to Victoria's marine environment. These pests can include a wide range of organisms, from microscopic algae to various species of mussels, crabs and sea squirts.

Head to our Marine pests page to find out how you can help stop the spread of marine pests.

Exotic pests and diseases of plants threaten Victoria’s agricultural sector and honeybee populations. The community and industry can help by reporting any unusual plant pests or plant symptoms. Early reporting is critical as it increases the chance of effective control and eradication.

Learn more about priority pest insects, plant diseases , and notifiable pests and diseases of honeybees .

Use our online reporting form to report an unusual pest or disease of plants and honeybees.

Your responsibilities

If you own or manage animals on your property, you are responsible for ensuring they are correctly tagged and their movements are documented.

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Property identification codes (PICs) provide vital information about the location of animals and allow the Victorian Government to contact you during disease outbreaks and emergencies.

You must have a PIC for the properties on which you graze or keep the following livestock:

  • one or more cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, alpaca, llamas, deer, horses, camels
  • more than 50 poultry (i.e., domesticated fowl, chickens, ducks, geese, turkey, guinea fowl, pigeons, quail, or pheasants)
  • 10 emus or 10 ostriches.

Register for a free PIC using our Online PIC service.

If you already have a PIC, make sure your details are up to date.

All cattle, sheep and goats must be identified with a National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) tag before leaving a property. These are for the identification and traceability of all cattle, sheep and goats, including those kept as pets.

Visit the livestock identification ordering NLIS tags page for more information.

A farm biosecurity plan should promote good hygiene practices and control the movement of livestock, people, and equipment onto your property.

Make sure your plan includes a farm biosecurity map and a BMP coversheet and update it regularly.

A BMP coversheet includes mandatory content and a map that outlines your property’s boundaries and biosecurity management areas. This information, along with compliant biosecurity signage, is required under the Livestock Management Act 2010, to enforce prosecution in the event of illegal trespass or non-compliance with the farm’s biosecurity protocols.

Find farm biosecurity plan and BMP coversheet templates at Farm biosecurity plan templates.

This course will provide you with information to know what to do to visit farms in a safe manner. You can help protect Australian’s farms. All people, vehicles and equipment visiting farms can spread pests, diseases and weeks.

View Come Clean, Stay Clean, Go Clean – when visiting farms online course

Free courses to upskill today

Grow your biosecurity knowledge with the help of these e-learning modules, focused on different aspects of farm biosecurity.

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This short course provides an introduction to the concepts of working in an emergency response, biosecurity hygiene and two priority Emergency Animal Diseases (EAD); Food-and-mouth disease and Lumpy skin disease.

View the Working in an Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Response – Foundational learning

In the event of foot-and-mouth disease being confirmed or strongly suspected anywhere in Australia, authorities will implement state-based movement restrictions.

View the Livestock Standstill for Foot-and-Mouth Disease online course.

Food-and-mouth disease (FMD) is considered one of Australia’s greatest biosecurity risks. This online module is designed to give an overview of the risk and impact food-and-mouth disease can have on the farming industry and what is being done to reduce that risk.

View the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Awareness online course

Lumpy skin disease is a viral disease of cattle, buffalo and wild ruminants that can result in animal welfare issues and significant production losses.

View Lumpy Skin Disease Awareness online course

Top biosecurity tips to implement now

Strong biosecurity practices on your property are crucial to protecting your animals, as well as the safety of our food and agricultural industries, from pests and diseases.

Follow these top biosecurity tips to keep your property safe.

Here is a checklist you can follow to ensure you are implementing good biosecurity measures on your property:

  • Register for or ensure your Property Identification Code (PIC) details are up-to-date
  • Do not permit visitors onto your farm if they have been in a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) infected country within the last seven days
  • Have a biosecurity plan. A biosecurity plan should, as a minimum, promote good hygiene practices and control the movement of livestock, people and equipment onto your property. For more information on creating a biosecurity plan for your farm, including a plan template, visit Animal Health Australia
  • Consider documenting vehicle movements onto your property, such as fodder deliveries and milk pick-ups, agricultural contractors
  • Use biosecurity signage at farm entry and exit points with clear instructions. Consider implementing a sign-in processes and restricting access to certain parts of your property – check out Farm Biosecurity for example gate signs
  • Have procedures, facilities and equipment in place for washing and disinfecting shoes and clothing and any other equipment and vehicles that enter your property
  • If you are working on a property and are in contact with sick animals, change your clothing and wash footwear after contact to avoid infecting other healthy animals
  • Keep up-to-date and timely records of livestock movements on and off your property. This includes completing a National Vendor Declaration and recording these movements in the NLIS database for cattle, sheep and goats and PigPass for pigs
  • When new livestock arrive on your property, isolate them and monitor closely for any signs of sickness for up to two weeks
  • Do not feed or supply pigs with meat, meat products or any food that has been served on the same plate or has come into contact with meat – see prohibited pig feed
  • Understand the signs of disease in different types of livestock
  • FMD is a notifiable exotic disease and any suspected cases must be reported to Agriculture Victoria
Page last updated: 05 Aug 2023