The proposed national BJD policy* due to be implemented in 2016 represents, in my view, a sensible and appropriate approach. BJD will now be viewed as an on-farm biosecurity management issue that’s entrusted to producers and with the responsibility for checking animals for BJD shared by producers and buyers.
The new policy is quite detailed, so I thought I’d summarise the key points here for you:
- Importantly, the new policy contains no further BJD ‘free, protected and management’ zoning.
- There’s no further quarantining or herd culling and no further differentiation in the rules for different strains of BJD.
- Under the new policy, BJD will remain a notifiable disease and individual states may restrict livestock movement across borders.
For us at Rockley Brahmans, the proposed national BJD policy represents a hugely important milestone as it coincides with our return to the sales ring at 2016 Big Country and 2016 Brahman Week.
It’s been well documented that we were quarantined in November 2012 after three of our stud cows tested positive for BJD. Since then we’ve been determined to rebuild both our herd and our reputation. Like so many other studs that have been affected, we were dumbfounded by an ineffective national policy that was based on control and eradication of BJD.
There’s no denying it’s been a tough period, but the silver lining is that we’ve used our experience with BJD to strengthen our position as elite Red Brahman producers. We’ve had time to reflect and our passion to breed a premium product has both endured and grown. Our experience has strengthened the family business and built resilience into it. We’ve become more aware of industry-wide issues and opportunities.
Rockley herd traits: polled, quiet temperament, structurally sound
Most importantly, BJD created increased communication across all fronts and it’s been through this process that we discovered that buyers want polled bulls, with a quiet temperament that are structurally sound. We’ve focused heavily on these three traits since our rebuilding began. We’ve also learned that buyers are looking for more and better information when purchasing cattle, so we’re providing that as well.
It was a difficult decision to make our case public but this has brought BJD out in the open and the industry has benefitted. We stood up for what we knew was an injustice to us and many others. We offered whatever information we could to support a policy change and wrote submissions to public drafts of the new policy.
Throughout the ordeal, our professional conduct has earned us support and respect from across the industry. We’ve remained in contact with previous and prospective buyers who’ve been eagerly awaiting our return to the sales ring.
We’re now well into rebuilding our herd, working extremely hard to retain our genetics and also maintaining our commitment to the seedstock business.
We’ve produced about 75 IVF calves to date, with many more on the way and we’re ecstatic with the quality of our first JDH Sir Stratton Manso 823/4 progeny . These will be offered at the 2016 Brahman Week Sale.
The offspring of Stratton will be on display in May 2016 when we attend The World Brahman Congress in Rockhampton.
So as you can see, we’re back and grateful for the support we’ve received as well as the lessons learned.
To find out more about our sales prospects for 2016, contact Ashley on 0408 780 810.