Australia Fires: Livestock Assessment Begins, Feed Needed

Recovery from the recent fires in the Australian state of Victoria is just beginning. The fires burned an estimated 850 square miles. According to the state's Department of Primary Industries, Victoria produces around 26% of Australia's agriculture and food from 3% of Australia's arable land.

According to a statement on the DPI Web site, livestock assessment teams will go into affected areas as soon as it is safe to do so. They will also asses other losses, and are working with the Victorian Farmers Federation to arrange for emergency feed.

Senior DPI veterinarian and Manager of Animal Health Field Services, Lloyd Klumpp said farmers have three major options:

  • Destroy immediately--if the animal is down, unable to walk, has excessive burns, swelling of limbs, or difficulty breathing.
  • Keep and nurse--if the animal is mobile and alert or has burns to less than 10% of its body. These animals will need shade, water, feed, daily inspection, and veterinary advice and treatment. They will also need constant reassessment.
  • No apparent damage--Livestock will still need shade water and feed and they will also need to be reassessed.

"For livestock at risk of impending fire (they) should, where possible, be moved to safer areas such as recently cultivated paddocks, bared-out or irrigated paddocks, or stockyards with bare or plowed surrounds," Klumpp said "People should remove halters, fly-veils, and anything else that can burn the animals, they should not be let out onto public roads."

Klumpp said anyone wishing to donate fodder should call 1300 882 833, and farmers who need urgent assistance in assessing burnt livestock should register by calling the DPI on 136 186.

The Department offers a booklet entitled "Recovery After Fire: Practical Steps for Landholders," which might be helpful for horse owners.

The booklet covers the basics of fire recovery, including:

  • Immediately post fire (monitoring assets, livestock, and health and finances)
  • Asset recovery and pest control (including burnt fences, erosion, and pasture recovery)
  • Prepare for next season (livestock fire plans, insurance).

Access the booklet (PDF downloadable file).

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

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