Biosecurity excellence at Kia Ora Merino

Brendan Finnigan with his wife Susan, son James and daughter-in-law Nicole, and grandchildren Olivia, Jim and Madison at Kia Ora.

Woolgrower Brendan Finnigan of ‘Kia Ora Merino’ at Winslow in Victoria was announced in November as Farm Biosecurity Producer of the Year for outstanding on-farm biosecurity practices that help protect his family’s farm from emergency diseases and pests.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said the annual Australian Biosecurity Awards are an important recognition of those making vital contributions to protecting Australia’s enviable biosecurity status.

“Biosecurity is a shared responsibility. Government, industry and the community all have an essential role to play in safeguarding Australia from biosecurity risks. Through the Australian Biosecurity Awards, we are shining a light on our biosecurity champions to recognise the businesses and individuals who support and promote Australia’s biosecurity,” he said.

Announced as Farm Biosecurity Producer of the Year, dedicated superfine Merino woolgrower Brendan Finnigan of Kia Ora Merino – along with his family members Susan, James and Nicole Finnigan – are leaders in, and strong advocates for, on-farm biosecurity and best practice livestock and farm management.

They have combined the Biocheck® Biosecurity Plan – originally developed by Warrnambool veterinarian Dr David Beggs – with all their farm management processes and procedures, which results in biosecurity on their property being not just a plan in the office but everyday practice.

The Finnigan family has strong biosecurity documentation practices and high standards for nutrition, cleanliness, health and disease prevention. Kia Ora Merino also uses the AWEX WoolClip app, which is used in conjunction with the addition of QR/RFID tracking on each wool bale. This means tracking is possible from farm to product, adding a new level of biosecurity and provenance to the wool.

Kia Ora Merino does not have footrot, lice or drench resistance. To maintain this status, strict rules are applied, such as:

  • never returning sheep to the flock if they leave the property
  • well-maintained boundary fences
  • fencing off rivers within property boundaries.

To reduce the risk of introducing new diseases, Kia Ora Merino has a self-replacing flock and uses artificial insemination to purchase outside genetics. The few purchased stock undergo quarantine drenching, inspection, vaccination and other measures before being quarantined in a separate paddock for 21 days.

Equipment is kept on the property to avoid contamination. Visitors must follow biosecurity signage and be entered into the visitor logbook. Visitor vehicles are directed to specific parking locations and visitors use farm vehicles on the property. Kia Ora Merino shears 10,000 sheep annually and so to stop lice coming in from other sheds, moccasins are provided to shearers and hand pieces are cleaned and sprayed with insecticide.

As well as protecting their property from unwanted pests and diseases, the Finnigans’ biosecurity management provides security to their customers and underpins the quality of the environment.

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught Australians anything, it is that maintaining good biosecurity practices to minimise the spread of disease is essential in our everyday lives. These same practices are just as important for the health and safety of your livestock.

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