If you’re considering making your vineyard available for others to run sheep, understanding associated biosecurity risks when entering into an agistment agreement can avoid a pest, disease or weed being inadvertently moved onto your vineyard.
Before entering into an agistment agreement:
- Obtain the agistment history of the sheep. If they have been in vineyards in a Phylloxera Infested Zone (PIZ) or Phylloxera Risk Zone (PRZ), do not accept them for agistment in a vineyard in a Phylloxera Exclusion Zone (PEZ). It is not recommended that sheep are moved between vineyards located in a PIZ or between vineyards located in a PRZ.
- To minimise the risk of weed transfer to your vineyard, ask if the sheep have been on a previous property with problematic weeds. Requesting sheep to be shorn prior to the entry to your vineyard is preferable.
- Ensure you advise the potential agistee of any harmful weeds on your property.
- Ensure you advise the potential agistee of any re-entry periods for grazing that apply (these might be from chemicals already applied before the agistment period, or chemical applications planned during the sheep occupancy).
- Determine whether you need to request a ‘National Sheep Health Declaration’ from the potential agistee, if this is a state requirement.
Upon signing of the agistment agreement:
- Ensure you have sighted the National Sheep Health Declaration (see above).
- Discuss the sheep transport truck with the agistee. Query if the truck has been near vine rows in a PIZ or PRZ within the last 21 days. If this is the case, disallow this truck to transport the sheep onto your vineyard if it is in a PEZ.
- Communicate to the agistee that the sheep truck must to be clean of soil and plant material upon arrival at your vineyard.
Upon arrival of the sheep truck at your vineyard:
- Verify that the truck is clean of soil and plant material upon entry to your vineyard.
- As you would for other visitors to your site, require the truck driver to sign in via your visitor record book and answer questions about where the truck has been (in terms of phylloxera management zones) in the last 21 days and where the driver has been within the same timeframe.
- When loading/unloading the sheep, ensure the truck is parked on a hardstand area, not down vine rows.
- Limit unnecessary movement of the driver down your vine rows.
- Retain agistment records for the entry and exit of sheep to your vineyard.
Upon exit of the sheep truck from your vineyard:
- Ensure the truck is clean of soil and plant material.
While fencing, animal health and access to water are outside the bounds of this article, they are all important considerations as part of the agistment agreement.