Bucks for Brains

Do you have cattle that are displaying any of the following signs?

  • changes in behaviour and neurological signs
  • excessive licking of the nose and flanks
  • poor coordination (circling, staggering and falling)
  • muscle tremors
  • abnormal posture (abnormal ear position and abnormal head carriage)
  • difficulty in rising (downer)
  • paralysis
  • excitability
  • increased or decreased sensitivity to sound, pain, heat, cold or touch.

If you do, you may be eligible for an incentive payment under the ‘Bucks for Brains’ initiative.

Bucks for Brains is an initiative of the National Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Surveillance Project (NTSESP) run through Animal Health Australia. Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies are rare, fatal diseases that cause gradual deterioration in the brain and other central nervous system tissues. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as ‘mad cow’ disease is the form found in cattle, scrapie is the form found in sheep.

The NTSESP helps Australia meet guidelines set by the World Organisation for Animal Health to demonstrate Australia’s freedom from BSE and scrapie. To ensure that these guidelines are met, Australia must continue to collect, examine and test eligible cattle and sheep samples.

The clinical signs of BSE can be common to many other diseases, which is why specific testing is required.

The program provides payments to producers who submit eligible cattle brains for national testing. Producers receive $300 per eligible cattle submission, for a maximum of two animals per veterinary investigation.

Eligible cattle need to meet the following criteria:

  • be older than 30 months
  • be less than nine years
  • display signs consistent with BSE (listed above).

Please contact your Regional Field Veterinary Officer or Livestock Biosecurity Officer if you have cattle displaying any of the signs.

Source: Animal Health Australia 2016, Bucks for Brains, Animal Health Australia, accessed 20 November 2018

Last updated: 30 April 2020

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