Farmers reminded about biosecurity ahead of annual stock moving day

Farmers are being urged to do their bit to protect farms from damaging pest plants by ensuring machinery, vehicles and equipment have been cleaned ahead of 'Gypsy Day.'

The annual 'Gypsy Day' occurs in the week leading up to and immediately following 1 June each year. 

It involves the mass transporting of cows and machinery around the country's roads as farm contractors relocate themselves and their stock in time for the new season.

The Waikato Regional Council is among those who are reminding farmers about the importance of good planning.

"Farmers and contractors have an important role to play in preventing the spread of pest plants and weeds through good on farm biosecurity practices," said council biosecurity pest plants team leader, Darion Embling.

"Unclean machinery is a confirmed pathway for the spread of infestations, such as velvetleaf and alligator weed, between some farms in our region.That makes machinery hygiene especially important with Gypsy Day coming up and the mass movement of stock, machines and vehicles between farms, " he said.

Embling said machinery hygiene must be practiced any time a machine is moved between properties.

"Any form of plant or soil contamination has a real potential of harbouring pests or weeds. Machinery should be cleaned so no visible soil or plant matter remains which might spread pests or weeds."

He said ideally, machinery wash-down should occur on the property prior to movement, containing any problems at the source. 

Alternatively, machinery may be cleaned in a built-for-purpose wash-down facility, but he said care should be taken to ensure there is not a risk of pest spread during transport to that facility.

"Pest plants such as alligator weed and velvetleaf can have a massive impact on the productivity and profitability of farm businesses, so farmers and contractors need to be extra vigilant when moving between properties."

The regional council recommends that farmers:

-confirm stock pick-up times in advance to eliminate confusion
-move stock close to the loading ramp the day before, when possible
-stand stock off green feed for a minimum of four hours (with water)
-use dry feed before transport because it results in less effluent.