The Australian dairy goat sector is an emerging animal industry undergoing rapid expansion. Limited information is available within this industry in relation to socio-demographic characteristics and biosecurity implementation. Q-Fever, caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii, is a zoonotic disease endemic in Australia, with a range of domestic and wild-animal reservoir species, including goats, with infected pregnant goats posing a significant public health risk. The aim of the current study was to investigate the socio-demographics of Australian dairy goat producers, their biosecurity implementation and levels of understanding, knowledge and attitudes towards Q-Fever. To achieve this aim, a cross-sectional study was conducted, using an online survey and follow-up semi-structured interviews among dairy goat producers. A total of 106 goat producers participated in the online survey (35.3% response rate) and 14 participated in the semi-structured interviews. Findings from this study suggest that most goat producers implement biosecurity practices related to direct animal husbandry, such as separating sick goats (86%), vaccinations (79%) and providing separate kidding space (75%); and, practices minimizing the risk of disease introduction, such as maintaining boundary fences (86%) and isolating incoming animals (67%). However, implementation of other biosecurity practices, such as keeping records of visitors and visitor biosecurity requirements, was inadequate. Furthermore, this study identifies a deficit of knowledge and understanding surrounding Q-Fever in the Australian dairy goat sector, and a disconnect between producers’ perception of risk and implementation of known appropriate biosecurity measures. The research has identified that producers rely on ‘trusted’ community networks to provide advice on biosecurity implementation, due to a perceived absence of industry-specific, reputable information sources. Producers identified those outside of these networks as the ‘other’. The creation of this other allows producers to deflect responsibility for individual biosecurity on to the other. A multifaceted approach is necessary to increase knowledge, understanding and perception of risk surrounding Q-fever, and promote positive uptake of biosecurity measures, for improved outcomes for animal and human health.
- Dairy goats