Biosecurity on your farm
Keeping your farm free of pests and diseases
Every farmer is at risk when it comes to pests and diseases, with animal contact the main risk to stock. Diseases can also be transferred indirectly on clothing, vehicles, and equipment.
By following our biosecurity guidelines you can reduce the risk of pests and diseases on your lifestyle block.
Purchasing new animals
- Try to minimise the movement of stock in and out of herds or flocks.
- Source from a single farm with a sound herd or flock health programme.
- Get an Animal Status Declaration from the seller and a health certificate from a vet.
- Always quarantine new stock for at least 2 weeks. Animals need 2 weeks for a proper health assessment and to recover from transport stress or illness. You can also monitor animals for diseases.
Contact with other livestock
- Inspect boundary fences regularly and repair as needed. Stray stock may spread disease and wild or feral animals can introduce new pests to your farm.
- Be aware that sharing bulls or rams of unknown health status (and similar practices) can easily transmit disease.
- Deter pests, rodents and birdlife by keeping the area around pens free of debris, spilled feed and standing water. Keep grass short around pens and enclosures
- Manage pests to control rodent and insect populations.
- Test existing stock and newly purchased animals for diseases – as recommended by your vet.
- Follow the herd/flock health plan and vaccination schedule you’ve developed with your vet.
- Deworm dogs.
- Regularly observe your animals for any abnormal behaviour and signs or symptoms of disease. Contact a vet for advice when livestock seem sick, death rates are high or production drops off with no reason.
- Call a vet to examine dead animals as soon as possible if the cause is unknown.
- Dispose of carcasses, including aborted foetuses, quickly and appropriately to prevent contamination of the farm environment or risk to other livestock or people.
- Restrict movement on and off your block if disease is suspected or identified. Don’t spread disease to other properties you visit. Don't become the source of a disease outbreak.
- Immediately contact the MPI exotic pest and disease hotline 0800 80 99 66 if you suspect an exotic disease.
People, vehicles, and equipment
People (including farmers and farm service providers)
- Restrict visitors' unnecessary access to barns, pastures, and lambing/kidding pens.
- Observe basic hygiene practices.
- Use separate clothing and footwear for working around different animal species.
- Wash hands with soap and warm water before entering and after leaving the livestock area.
- Work with the youngest and most susceptible animals first, and any sick animals last.
Vehicles and equipment
- Minimise traffic and keep vehicles clean.
- Clean and disinfect vehicles or equipment carefully before sharing with other properties.
- Routinely and thoroughly clean and disinfect anything that comes into contact with your livestock or birds.
Feed and water
- Don't feed off the ground. Design and position bowls and troughs to prevent faecal contamination and clean and sanitise regularly.
- Purchase feed or feed ingredients from a seller that can verify its safe origin.
- Don't feed ruminant protein (including cattle, sheep, deer, and goat) to ruminant animals unless it's a dairy product. It is not permitted to feed ruminant protein such as blood and bone meal to ruminants.
- All food waste that contains meat or has come into contact with meat must by law be cooked to 100 degrees Celsius for at least an hour before it is fed to pigs.
- Keep stored feed covered to keep it pest-free and dry.
- Don't let dogs have access to untreated offal to prevent the spread of parasites.
- Use separate tools and equipment for manure handling and feed or bedding.
- Safely dispose of leftover chemicals, medicines and their packaging, and veterinary equipment.
- Dispose of waste away from livestock, humans, and watercourses as it can cause contamination.
Animal identification, registration and movement records are important.
Cattle and deer
If you own cattle or deer you have a legal obligation to identify and register these animals under the TB-free and NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) schemes. Once registered, you will be advised of TB testing requirements. All cattle and deer must be identified with NAIT-approved RFID (radio frequency identification) tags.
Animal Status Declarations (ASDs)
Animal Status Declarations (ASDs) must be completed when animals are moved between properties (including to sale yards) or sent for processing. ASD apply to:
- cattle, deer, sheep, pigs, goats, ostriches, emus, horses, alpacas and llamas. A different ASD is required for pigs.
Copies of the signed ASD must be kept as follows:
- Seller - one year
- Buyer - one year after the animals are kept.
If there is a disease outbreak, tracing the movement of infected animals will be critical. Informal trading makes it much harder to manage and control movement.
- Animal health checklist to use when buying stock [PDF, 175 KB]
- Guidance on protecting your farm from Mycoplasma bovis [PDF, 715 KB]
Beef + Lamb NZ resources
Find out more
Always seek professional advice from your veterinarian for any aspects of herd or flock health or management.
- National Animal Identification and Tracing and Animal Status Declaration forms
- Eradicating bovine tuberculosis
- Animal welfare
- Controlled area notice for hydatids [PDF, 419 KB]
- Feeding ruminant protein to ruminants
- Feeding food waste
- Animal Status Declarations [PDF, 195 KB]
Note: private veterinary practices, institutes, and organisations offer a range of courses for lifestyle block farmers.