Evaluating the efficacy of regionalisation in limiting high-risk livestock trade movements

Arata Hidano, Tim Carpenter, Mark A. Stevenson, M. Carolyn Gates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Many countries implement regionalisation as a measure to control economically important livestock diseases. Given that regionalisation highlights the difference in disease risk between animal subpopulations, this may discourage herd managers in low-risk areas from purchasing animals from high-risk areas to protect the disease-free status of their herds. Using bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in New Zealand as a case example, we develop a novel network simulation model to predict how much the frequency of cattle movements between different disease control areas (DCAs) could theoretically change if herd managers adopted the safest practices (preferentially purchasing cattle from areas with the lowest risk of bTB), if herd managers adopted the riskiest practices (preferentially purchasing cattle from areas with the greatest risk of bTB), or if herd managers made trade decisions completely at random (purchasing cattle without consideration for bTB disease risk). A modified configuration wiring algorithm was used in the network simulation model to preserve key temporal, spatial, and demographic attributes of cattle movement patterns. The simulated frequencies of cattle movements between DCAs in each of the three behavioural scenarios were compared with the actual frequency of cattle movements that occurred between 1st July 2010 and 30th June 2011. Our results showed that the observed frequency of cattle movements from high-risk areas into low-risk areas was significantly less than if trade decisions were made completely at random, but still significantly greater than if herd managers made the safest possible trade decisions. This suggests that while New Zealand cattle farmers may have adopted risk-averse trading behaviour in response to regionalisation, there are other underlying factors driving livestock trade, such as established supplier-buyer relationships and heterogeneous individual perceptions towards disease risk, which may reduce the potential efficacy of regionalisation as a disease control strategy. Physical constraints and socio-psychological factors that determine herd managers’ livestock trading behaviour warrant further studies to better understand how herd managers respond to future livestock disease regulations. The flexibility of a network re-wiring framework presented in this study allows such a behavioural response to be incorporated into a disease simulation model, which will in turn facilitate a better evaluation of disease control strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-41
Number of pages11
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Anthropogenic influence
  • Behavioural feedback
  • Livestock movement
  • Mycobacterium bovis
  • Network analysis
  • Surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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