4th July 2006, HOBART: Tasmania's chief vet says Australia's status as being free of mad cow disease (BSE) could be threatened by the indiscriminate use of animal-based pasture fertilisers.
A number of cattle deaths from botulism in Tasmania have been attributed to the use of poultry litter as a fertiliser.
Dr Rod Andrewarthur says although it is a legal product, the litter must not be used before the end of the official withholding period to ensure cattle do not ingest any lingering animal protein.
He says under BSE protocols, no animal protein can be fed to cattle.
"We sell our meat to the world as a premium because we are free of diseases like mad cow disease," he said.
"We are under audit from other countries like the European Union to make sure that we've got all the checks and safeguards in place prevent the development of the disease.
"This one is a bit of a double banger, it's got the risk as far as export is concerned and it's also got the risk of killing the cattle."