News

Livestock losses lower than expected in SA bushfires

Sheep Central, January 15, 2015

Livestock losses in the recent bushfires in the Sampson Flat area, north of Adelaide, have been smaller than originally feared and truckloads of fodder have been donated to affected landowners.

Chief Veterinary Officer with Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA), Dr Roger Paskin, said indications to date were that the livestock impacts of the fire late last month were very light.

“In all, 304 livestock properties were impacted by the fire and the cumulative number of livestock affected was 933 animals destroyed – 703 of those directly by the fire,” Dr Paskin said.

“The majority of those destroyed were 611 sheep and 74 ‘other’ animals (including meat rabbits). Only 18 cattle perished as a result of the bushfire.

“It should however be noted that the data given here represents only the information that’s been provided to PIRSA and that the true figures on stock losses may be slightly higher.”

PIRSA has contacted 304 properties

Dr Paskin said that PIRSA had contacted all 304 affected property owners (leaving messages in some cases) and had visited 142 properties, seven of which had received follow-up visits.

“PIRSA staff had to destroy 85 animals, the majority of them sheep,” he said. “Producers also destroyed a further 145 animals, most of which were sheep but also including 12 head of cattle.

“I’d like to thank producers for their great understanding and patience in working through this response with PIRSA staff,” said Dr Paskin.  He also noted the pleasing aspect of producers abiding by Property Identification Code (PIC) regulations.

“Because most producers in the fire zone had a PIC registered with PIRSA, we were rapidly able to determine which properties had indeed been affected and were able to make contact with owners relatively quickly,” he said.

“That made meeting their needs and the needs of their livestock so much easier.”

Fodder donations ‘amazing’

Livestock SA member and fire response fodder coordinator at Forreston, John Mundy, said the way farmers across the State have banded together in the past week to help those affected by the Adelaide Hills’ fires has been nothing short of amazing.

“In coordinating the fodder donation response, we have distributed 15 semi-trailer loads containing 4000 large round or square bales and 1000 small squares bales, plus donated chaff and horse feed through fodder stores.

“This was all sent out from a temporary depot set-up at Kersbrook oval with the help of numerous volunteers to coordinate donations and prioritise deliveries.”

Mr Mundy said people volunteered their time to deliver the hay by trailer and some transporters contributed their time and heavy vehicles while other farmers donated tractors to help load.

“For the area of the fire, it was amazing more livestock were not killed or injured.

“Our biggest challenges have been getting hay into some inaccessible areas – either because roads were too narrow for semi-trailers or they were still closed for long periods.”

Mr Mundy said there are about a dozen farmers who solely rely on livestock for their income in the fire zone and they have been well catered for with donated fodder.

“There have been numerous smaller farmers with 10-80 cattle or 20-300 sheep and while it’s not their sole income, it’s still a significant contributor to their property.

”They had all experienced total fodder losses and now many of them are better placed to face the summer ahead.”

Livestock SA acknowledged the generosity of farmers in the Mid North, Yorke Peninsula and Mallee who have donated feed.

“They have come to the party very quickly and really saved the situation for a lot of producers.

”While there are so many who helped, credit goes to Michele Lally, Clare, and Kirsty Rehn, Kersbrook, for getting the ball rolling and to those who helped Livestock SA in administration by establishing a database and taking calls,” Mr Mundy said.

The fodder depot has closed and further hay or fodder donations will be individually matched up to livestock producers, he said.

PIRSA staff thanked

Dr Paskin also paid tribute to the dedication and professionalism of PIRSA staff.

“All of our staff responded to a difficult situation in exemplary fashion.

“Many gave up their summer vacation to join the response.”

It should be noted that PIC registration is compulsory for livestock producers in South Australia.  To find out more, visit: http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/biosecuritysa/animalhealth/identification_movement/property_registration

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