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Program focus

Animal health, welfare and biosecurity are important at all stages of the livestock production chain. Each can have potentially adverse impacts on productivity if managed poorly and because producers have a duty of care to their livestock. If not upheld, these issues have the potential to reflect badly on the whole industry.

Producers must consider the five freedoms for animals and the need to incorporate these into property management plans and procedures:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst.
  2. Freedom from discomfort.
  3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease.
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour.
  5. Freedom from fear and distress.

Attention to health, welfare and biosecurity is easier during good seasons, but is equally important during poor seasons or during foreseen circumstances likes floods, drought, fires and other adverse events. Special attention needs to be paid when these circumstances necessitate the humane destruction of large numbers of animals.

Animal health

Australia is fortunate to be free of all the major epidemic diseases of livestock and is relatively free of other serious parasites and diseases. Australia maintains this high standard of animal health through effective partnerships between all levels of government and the livestock industries. Within this framework, MLA is responsible for the management of animal health research programs that deliver cost-effective, practical solutions to several health problems in sheep, cattle and goats.

Producers have a duty of care to incorporate the results of these research programs into their property animal health plan.

Animal welfare

The welfare of sheep, cattle and goats affects the productivity, profitability and sustainability of the Australian livestock industries. The welfare of livestock is important during all stages of production, from birth to slaughter.

Good animal welfare practices are an integral part of a property management plan. MLA is committed to investing in animal welfare research that provides tools and knowledge to producers to help them improve the wellbeing of their livestock and address issues of community concern.


Biosecurity programs for cattle, sheep and goat industries are designed to prevent the spread of infectious disease and contain disease outbreaks when they occur. Biosecurity is important at the national, regional and property level.

National and regional biosecurity programs are usually developed through partnerships between the Australian livestock industries and all levels of government. MLA's role is to manage research designed to underpin these programs. Each livestock producer is responsible for developing a biosecurity plan for their property. The aim of such a plan is to reduce the risk of introducing an infectious disease onto the property and to reduce the risk of spreading a disease within a property.

Effective farm biosecurity plans also help underpin Australia's regional and national biosecurity programs.