Smallholder livestock producers in Australia: biosecurity and knowledge transfer

Marta Hernandez-Jover, Lynne Hayes, Jenny-Ann L. M. L Toribio, Robert Woodgate, Luzia Rast

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Purpose: Practices of smallholder livestock producers are perceived to pose biosecurity risks; however, these practices and the potential risks are not fully understood. The aim of the current study was to investigate biosecurity, disease management and communication networks of smallholder producers in Australia.

Methods: To achieve this aim a stakeholder consultation and a national cross-sectional study, using an electronic and postal survey, among smallholders keeping <50 cattle, sheep and/or pigs were used. Focus groups with smallholders, using participatory epidemiology approaches, were conducted to triangulate previous findings and to obtain in depth information on producers’ practices and attitudes.

Results: Twenty-eight stakeholders representing government, industry and community groups participated in the consultation, which identified a decline in research and resources for smallholders, a lack of a formal definition of this sector and variations in knowledge of the sector and level of direct association. A total of 944 smallholders (16.0% response rate) responded the questionnaire and 20 producers participated in the focus groups. Extra income and home consumption were the main reasons for keeping livestock, with over 40% being involved in other agricultural and environmental activities. Although half of respondents had moderate to high understanding of the term biosecurity, implementation of biosecurity practices was limited and veterinary contact was low. In addition, smallholders were mainly concerned with endemic diseases, with emergency animal diseases being a low priority. Animal welfare and cost were the main reasons of disease importance. Smallholders identified veterinarians, family, livestock agents and other producers as player stakeholders, with perceived high interest and influence on their practices; whilst government agencies and industry groups were perceived as having low influence and interest.

Conclusions and relevance: This study will support the development of improved knowledge transfer strategies to engage smallholders with biosecurity and health management, using targeted methods delivered by trusted stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event14th Conference of the International Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics (ISVEE 2015) - Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
Duration: 03 Nov 201507 Nov 2015


Conference14th Conference of the International Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics (ISVEE 2015)
Abbreviated titleVeterinary Epidemiology and Economics: Planning Our Future
Internet address


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