AN online survey for sheep and beef producers affected by the devastating 2019–20 bushfire season will help scientists develop advice and a manual to help farmers recover from fires and mitigate the effect of future fire seasons.
The online survey (link provided below) is open to all sheep and beef farmers affected by the bushfires, and includes questions on how the fires affected animal health, biosecurity, welfare, meat quality and farm business in the 12 months since the bushfires. The survey closes on 24 May.
The survey is part of a research project on the health, welfare and biosecurity of livestock exposed to Australian bushfires, a collaboration between the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney and Ausvet, and funded by Meat & Livestock Australia.
The project will provide a valuable resource for future fire seasons in the form of a ‘Livestock Wellbeing Bushfire Preparation and Recovery Manual’ for producers. This will fill an important gap by providing best-practice recommendations for stock exposed to Australian bushfire conditions.
Project co-leader Dr Caitlin Pfeiffer, lecturer in veterinary epidemiology at the University of Melbourne, said advice developed from responses will feed back into the industry.
“The 2019–20 bushfire season was especially devastating, with over 24 million hectares burnt, including a lot of farmland,” Dr Pfeiffer said.
“Along with human lives lost, deaths and disruption of livestock and damage to land and property, livestock may have experienced respiratory damage from smoke inhalation and other health and welfare impacts that affect growth, breeding and meat quality.
“This survey and this project will help the industry understand the impact of these bushfire consequences in the 12 months following the fires. What we learn in this survey from the experiences of recently burnt farms will help farmers to better prepare for and recover from future bushfires, through a bushfire preparation and recovery manual focussed specifically on livestock.”
The project team includes veterinarians, animal welfare scientists, epidemiologists and meat scientists, and the team will consult with a range of other experts to develop practical and specific advice for farmers backed by scientific evidence and the experience of livestock producers.