Animal welfare support continues, long after the fire is out

Hunter Local Land Services is helping bushfire affected livestock producers recover from the 2019 Bushfires with a range of projects and assistance measures geared to improve livestock health and welfare in this important recovery period.

Producers within or on the edges of the fire scar are managing a range of additional issues as a result of the destruction of fences, pastures and infrastructure which place stresses on normal livestock management functions.

As work continues across the region to rebuild fences, District Vet Dr Lyndell Stone said producers are reporting straying livestock, which increases biosecurity risks and potentially introduces new endemic diseases into a herd.

“Reduced access to fenced paddocks can increase parasite burdens and stock nutrition challenges and livestock health impacts from weeds or diminished water quality,” said Dr Stone, “Hunter LLS is supporting producers address these issues through targeted testing of livestock, water and feed in partnership with local private veterinarians.

“Producers are also realising this recovery period has provided them with the opportunity to review some of their existing practices and are looking to veterinary, agronomy and water experts for additional help and we want to encourage this renewed interest in improving animal welfare.”

The need to restock, re-design infrastructure and ensure preparedness for future climatic emergencies, whether it be flood, fire or drought, also presents opportunities and challenges that we can assist with through fire specific Recovery Assistance projects.

Specifically, Hunter Local Land Services has projects underway to

  • Develop better management and on-farm treatment of Blue green algae in dams;
  • Provide better access to on-farm nitrate testing of fodder to prevent stock deaths from nitrate toxicity from feed brought in during fire, floods and drought or on farm produced fodders.
  • Subsidize strategic testing for key endemic diseases (Pestivirus, Vibriosis, roundworms and fluke) that may have been introduced while fences were down or when new stock introduced;
  • Provide testing of Water quality and fodder analysis,
  • Producing materials to assist producers prepare for emergencies and to help first responders better manage livestock immediately after the emergency.

Early in 2021 Hunter LLS is bringing an industry leader in Low Stress Stock Handling to the region to run four courses for cattle producers.

“Understanding the principles and using these stock handling techniques will improve stock wellbeing and and ease movement of livestock in future emergencies,” said Dr Stone.

“It can also help improve profits for producers as better handled stock maintain better performance.

“Spaces are strictly limited so please contact us as soon as possible to reserve a place as we are prioritising fire affected producers.”

If you feel your livestock are not achieving their growth potential or you have specific livestock, agronomy or water quality production concerns following the fires please call your local District Vet on 1300 795 299 or private veterinarian to discuss your concerns.

These projects are being delivered through funding, provided by the NSW State Government and the Australian Government to assist in the recovery of bushfire affected communities.

If you are a Hunter or Mid Coast landholder who lost boundary fences during the last bushfire season, you may be eligible for further support. The grants cover up to $5,000 per kilometre to replace fences that border public land damaged by fires from late 2019 to early 2020. More information about the Supporting Our Neighbours boundary fence grants is available online at www.lls.nsw.gov.au or by calling 1300 778 080.

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