THE state's sheep producers are being urged to remain vigilant in the face of a serious disease outbreak.
Ovine brucellosis (OB) is currently plaguing the industry in Queensland, prompting peak bodies such as AgForce Queensland and the Queensland Merino Stud Sheep Breeders Association (QMSSBA) to take action.
OB is caused by an infection from bacteria and can be found in the semen of infected rams.
Infected rams can spread the disease into a ewe flock and potentially pass it onto other rams that were otherwise clean.
That occurs when a clean ram is put over a ewe that has been serviced by an infected ram, or rams can spread it between themselves by riding each other.
Once infected, the disease leads to infertility, reduced ram fertility, longer lambing periods, abortion and weak lambs.
If OB is detected in a flock, all infected rams will need to be culled, which leads to large financial cost.
Among the industry's figures concerned by the recent outbreak is QMSSBA president and AgForce sheep and wool board director Benn Wilson, who said the disease could be devastating to the industry as a whole.
"This is a serious issue for our industry and with the increased transfer of sheep throughout the state, we all need to do our bit to make sure we aren't spreading OB," Mr Wilson said.
"Ewes can carry the disease for up to two months, so producers need to ensure their clean rams are kept away from any purchased ewes for that time period as well."
The warning comes after biosecurity officers announced that reports of OB have skyrocketed in recent months, prompting governing bodies to warn other producers.
"One way to limit the risk is to purchase rams that are accredited under the Ovine Brucellosis Accreditation Scheme," Mr Wilson said.
"Purchasing rams from a stud that is a member of the QMSSBA helps ensure your ram is clean, but if you are buying from a non-registered stud, you need to enquire about the health status of your supplier.
"Newly purchased rams should be kept separate and tested prior to mixing with your flock if purchased from an unaccredited ram breeder."
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