Farmers warn protesters could infect animals with diseases
WHEN Peggy Jessen heard whispers that vegan protesters were heading to her goat farm, she felt as though an invasion was imminent.
She'd heard about the protests yesterday morning at Yangan's Carey Bros Abattoir and at Phil Christensen's Freestone dairy farm.
So it came as a shock when she received a call from the police saying her place was next.
Her family blocked the farm gates with their vehicles while her workers volunteered to stick around in case the numbers were too great for Peggy and her husband Dan to handle.
"We heard they were coming our way, targeting dairies, and possibly feedlots and piggeries," Ms Jessen said.
"But this is our property and our business.
"You don't walk into somebody's house yard and take photos of their flowers."
Luckily the threat proved unfounded, but the fear was real.
If the protesters had moved through a number of dairies, feedlots and meat processing sites they could have picked up a host of bacteria and disease.
This could have contaminated the Jessen farm, which the family take great effort to keep healthy.
"We have a closed herd," Mrs Jessen said.
"We don't bring anything in and if it leaves the farm it stays gone. All of our sheep are bred here and when we do buy a stud buck we isolate and test it before we use it."
The big fear was from either the bovine or sheep strains of Johnes disease infecting the Jesson flock.
Johnes is a wasting disease spread by bacteria that live in an animal's stomach. It is easily transferred by infected blood, urine and faeces. The bacteria lay dormant for years before any symptoms present themselves.
Once it takes hold, mortality is all but assured, with animals dying from chronic diarrhoea.
Rates of Johnes disease are low in Queensland compared to other states but the threat is not. So much so that in 2017 the Queensland Government introduced the J-BAS system - an entirely new level of farm testing and animal health registration - to control its spread.
Mrs Jessen was concerned protesters could spread the bacteria without knowing.
"If they had been to a cow dairy and if they have s--t on their feet, they could walk through our goat dairy and drop bits."
Likewise, Q-Fever spreads with ease.
"It is carried in dust and in meat. Not that the vegans are eating too much meat," Mrs Jessen said.
While her farm was spared the protesters' wrath, Mrs Jessen said the past 24 hours showed how silly they were.
"They are not going to convert people," she said.
"They are just being a flamin' nuisance.
"The meat and dairy industry feeds the world. There is a lot of goat meat consumed around the world and lot of goat milk is consumed."
If the protesters are worried about how the Jessen herd is treated, one look would put their minds at ease.
Mrs Jessen said keeping her goats happy and healthy was good for business... and milk production.
"Our goats are well fed and they have plenty of shelter for when the weather is bad," she said.
"If you saw some of the fat on our old girls you'd be surprised. They are pampered."