Ashley Jordan is working with livestock producers and private veterinarians in WA through his role as a district veterinary officer with the Department of Agriculture and Food.
WORKING with livestock is a dream come true for one young WA veterinary officer.
Ashley Jordan, 29, is currently working with producers and private veterinarians to help maintain the health of animals in the Northam region.
“I’m looking forward to meeting more local livestock producers,” Ashley said.
“Also, working with them, to maintain the health of our animals, and WA’s access to domestic and international markets.”
After travelling the world, Ashley landed his dream job last September with the Department of Agriculture and Food as a district veterinary officer, and hasn’t looked back.
Originally from Perth, Ashley said during his five-year degree at Murdoch University, he envisaged working with large animals, livestock and animal diseases.
Soon after graduating in 2007, Ashley travelled to California in the United States to gain some experience in veterinary medicine.
“I was drawn to this career from a young age,” he said.
“I’ve always thought this was the most interesting field to be in and it’s very unique.
“You can do a range of things, from working with dogs and cats, to agricultural animals or research work.
“I did work with domestic pets in America after graduating, because I thought I wanted to do mixed practice, but that changed.
“I was working with smaller animals, dogs and cats mostly, and a few tea-cup pigs. But I then realised I really wanted to work with larger animals.
“I went travelling after that, to try and work out a way to get back into that line of work.”
Moving back to Australia, Ashley gained experience in veterinary medicine, animal welfare and livestock surveillance, working with the RSPCA in Canberra.
“I then started a post graduate certificate in veterinary public health and management which I am due to finish this year,” Ashley said.
“It is a boring title, but it focuses on epidemiology (science that studies the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations), animal health economics focusing on mainly livestock.
“Disease control and the spread of disease is of great importance to agriculture and it really interests me.”
In Northam, Ashley has been monitoring local livestock health and providing specialist advice to producers on animal health issues and diseases.
Ashley said he also has a special interest in pigs and the industry.
“I am really happy to be working with livestock,” Ashley said.
“In my role I have been working with sheep and pigs predominantly.
“I have been working with local veterinarians and keeping up to date on what is happening overseas in terms of diseases, which is really important.”
Ashley said he has been looking at a variety of diseases, which Australia is free from, including the recent outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED) in the United States.
He said the introduction of PED in the United States had resulted in the deaths of millions of pigs, particularly suckling piglets.
“Foot and Mouth Disease and PED are just two of a number of exotic animal diseases that would have a serious impact on WA’s livestock industry if they entered the State,” he said.
“Everyone responsible for livestock, including owners, saleyard operators and transporters are encouraged to keep a close eye on animals and contact a veterinarian if they have any concerns about animal health.”
After a trip to Nepal in October last year, Ashley said the contrasts in the agricultural landscape were evident.
Along with farmers, agricultural consultants and some of DAFWA’s veterinarians, Ashley took part in a training program run by the European Commission for the control of Foot and Mouth Disease.
“It is a very widely known disease, but it was very interesting to witness first hand,” Ashley said.
“We were able to see an active outbreak in a very traditional village in Nepal.
“Because it was a biosecurity risk, we wore all the protective clothing – which I think the locals thought looked quite funny, but they were expecting us, and knew the process.
“The locals were very good at spotting the disease signs, even when it was very difficult, they could tell which animal was infected.
“We were able to handle the animals, and see first hand the symptoms, such as the lesions.
“Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) can have a devastating effect on animal wellbeing and production, and market access.
“Rapid investigation of, and response to, any potential outbreak of FMD is vital and in order to achieve this, it’s important that veterinary officers are well-trained and farmers are vigilant in monitoring their stock.
“Many species of animals can be affected by FMD, however cattle and pigs show the most severe and obvious clinical signs, including blisters or ulcer-like mouth and foot lesions, increased salivation and lameness.”
Ashley said he is very interested in diseases and disease control and is very glad FMD and the likes are not found in Australia, which he believes is because of WA’s impressive animal biosecurity status.
“In order to maintain and expand our export markets, WA needs to provide evidence that we are free of serious livestock diseases, such as FMD,” Ashley said.
“To provide this evidence, I will collaborate with the department’s team of veterinary officers and private veterinarians to investigate any animals in the region that show unusual signs of disease or unexplained deaths.”
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