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South East Circular

Edition 26, February / March 2017

Representatives at Tarago community meeting

Fire recovery and response

Aaron Smith Goulburn Local Area Manager
Annelies McGaw Senior Land Services Officer - Partnerships and Collaboration
There have been several serious bushfires in the south east region in the last few months. South East Local Land Services staff have been very active in the response to both the Currendooley and Carwoolla fires.

Veterinary and biosecurity staff were on the ground in the immediate aftermath of the fires, working with land managers to assist with the management of injured stock, assess stock and property losses and coordinate the delivery of emergency fodder provisions for land managers who were substantially affected by the fire.

We would like to remind land managers that the information provided in the annual stock return, which will be sent to you shortly, is crucial in assisting us to make quick and accurate assessments and put in place animal welfare plans and operation responses in emergencies.

Post fire recovery and support community meetings were held in Tarago and Queanbeyan. The meetings brought together the local community and emergency services to discuss support services available to land managers and the emergency response to the fires.

The Currendooley and Sutton fire has been included in the disaster relief package released by Commonwealth – State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements. Those affected should contact the Rural Assistance Authority to find out if they are eligible for assistance.
Rabbit eating carrot

New strain of rabbit virus released

Chris Harris
Senior Biosecurity Officer
The first week in March saw the synchronised release of a new strain of the calicivirus across the country. This is the first time in 20 years that a new rabbit biocontrol agent has been released into Australia. RHVD1 K5 is a Korean strain of the virus which was first released in Australia in 1996.

South East Local Land Services worked closely with the NSW DPI and approximately 130 land managers to organise a coordinated release of the new strain across the region. The work is part of a national project to reduce feral rabbit numbers. Rabbits are a damaging pest species, it is estimated that their presence reduces Australia’s agricultural productivity by over $200 million each year. Feral rabbits also have a direct impact on 304 threatened species nationally.

We know that biological rabbit control is not a silver bullet solution. It is most beneficial if applied as part of an integrated and complementary pest management approach. We recommend land managers carry out follow-up control measures after the release of the virus. The release of K5 also offers a chance to start a conversation with neighbours about rabbit control across the landscape.

The first confirmed case of a rabbit succumbing to the new K5 strain was recorded by the CSIRO on March 10.

The national release of RHDV1 K5 has been delivered through the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, with major financial and in kind resources provided by the Australian and NSW governments, CSIRO, Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation and Foundation for Rabbit Free Australia.

For more information contact Chris Harris, Senior Biosecurity Officer – 6118 7705
Orange Hawkweed

Orange hawkweed field days

Jo Powells
Senior Agricultural Advisor - Pastures
In response to the recent discovery of the highly invasive ‘Orange hawkweed’ on the Monaro, Local Land Services, in partnership with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) and the Snowy Monaro Regional Council (SM RC), have held field days for local residents and landholders in the Rocky Plains and Adaminaby regions.

These awareness raising events have involved presentations from Hawkweed specialists such as Jo Caldwell, Dr Peter Turner and Hillary Cherry from NPWS and weed ecologist Dr Stephen Johnson, from NSW DPI. An update on the local weed control authority’s response to this find was provided by Charlie McPhie, Vegetation Management Officer from SM RC.

Attendees learnt about the danger that Orange hawkweed poses to the rural and natural landscapes of NSW, how to identify Orange hawkweed and similar species and what they should do if they encounter this weed on their land.

The Monaro response to the finding of Orange hawkweed is a good example of the importance of the General Biosecurity Duty (GBD) that is a part of the soon to be implemented Biosecurity Act 2015. If each landholder does their due diligence and plays their part in upholding their GBD, issues like Orange hawkweed can be identified early and addressed quickly before they get out of hand and cause significant economic and environmental costs, as has been the case across New Zealand and Northern America.

To find out more about Orange hawkweed on the Monaro contact Jo Powells Senior Agricultural Advisor – Pastures, 6452 1455 If you have questions about invasive species in your area contact your nearest Local Land Services office or local council.
Cattle with FE in yards

Facial Eczema in the Bega Valley

Helen Schaefer
Bega District Veterinarian
Facial eczema (FE) is a disorder mainly of cattle and sheep, most often recognised as a form of photosensitisation. The skin becomes hypersensitive to sunlight leading to severe damage of any exposed, non-pigmented skin that has little hair or wool cover. It also involves liver damage. FE affects a number of the herd at once. In most outbreaks, many animals in a herd show little or no visible skin lesions, but nevertheless, have suffered liver damage.

Significant outbreaks of FE were confirmed in the Bega Valley in autumn 2016.  Bega dairy farmers are now well aware of what their Victorian counterparts have known for several years: FE can have significant impacts on dairy cattle productivity, health and welfare.

The signs in cattle include restlessness/agitation, diarrhoea, intense pain, shade-seeking, reduced appetite, sharp milk drop, raised inflamed white areas of skin which may eventually go hard and slough off in large sheets, significant weight loss, and abortion.

FE is caused by a fungus (Pithomyces chartarum) which grows in dead pasture litter. The fungus grows vigorously and produces toxic spores in warm, moist weather, i.e. minimum night time temperatures over 12-15°C with the humidity greater than 90% for a few days. Outbreaks of the disease most often occur in late summer and autumn.

Due to the work that was done by South East Local Land Services and local producers in Bega last season, we have now been incorporated into Dairy Australia’s GippsDairy Facial Eczema Spore Monitoring Program enabling the regular monitoring of pasture spore counts in sentinel farms. This is the best method of predicting FE danger periods, thus allowing preventative measures to be put into place by producers before FE occurs.

To find out more about FE contact Helen Schaefer – Bega District Veterinarian 6491 7821
Fox in the field

Are you a Feral Fighter?

Ben Serafin
Biosecurity Officer
February saw the launch of the 2017 Feral Fighters program across the South East. Feral Fighters encourages local community groups to coordinate control efforts to strategically target rabbits, foxes and wild dogs through baiting and biological control activities across the landscape.

Feral Fighters offers incentives for land managers to participate in and form best practice, pest animal group control groups. These incentives include up to 40 free 1080 baits and free vertebrate pesticide training. The incentives aim to engage and train landholders in vertebrate pest animal control, increasing landholder participation in group control programs, maximising value for effort.

Feral Fighters' partnership with Gunning District Landcare Fox Control program is an example of how Feral Fighters can assist landholders make a meaningful impact on pest animal populations. In 2016, 309 local community members participated in the joint program, laying 9,000 fox baits across 225,000 hectares in autumn and spring programs.

The response to the 2017 program has been very positive so far, but it is not too late to join up. To find out more about the Feral Fighters program, or how you can join, contact your nearest Local Land Services office.
Jeff House speaking at the workshop

Tips on weaning calves

Matthew Lieschke
Senior Land Services Officer - Livestock
While weaning calves may appear to be a fairly simple task, a number of things need to be considered to ensure the best outcome possible. Common questions around weaning include when to wean, what method to use, how long, what supplements should be fed and how much.

These questions were covered by industry consultant Jeff House at the recent “Weaning for Profit” workshops held at Boorowa, Crookwell, Braidwood and Nimmitabel. Workshops were extremely well attended with over 120 producers gathering across the four locations.

 Some of the key messages included:
  • cow fat score is a major indicator of when to wean and needs to be monitored closely
  • yard weaning is considered best practice
  • four square metres per head for 180-260 kg calves is recommended when yard weaning
  • keep calves in the yards for five – seven days
  • feed with good quality hay or silage (while calves are in the yards)
  • where possible keep as many heifers as you can and let the bull sort out which ones are the most fertile.
The workshops were hosted on working properties, and at each one, the attendees inspected the weaning method being used, the type of infrastructure in place, animal health treatments being used and nutritional management in place.

If you would like more information about the topics covered or the key messages from the workshops please contact me on 4824 1913 or
Sheep in a paddock

Q Fever

Fiona Kelk
Yass District Veterinarian
Q fever is an illness caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii; it is spread to humans from infected animals. Infected animals do not show any signs of illness.

People usually get infected by breathing in the bacteria when near infected animals, animal tissues, or animal products. The bacteria survive for long periods in the environment as they are resistant to heat and drying. Work clothes, bedding material and other objects in contact with animals can become contaminated and spread the infection to people who may not have direct contact with animals. The main carriers of the disease are farm animals such as cattle, sheep and goats but other animals such as kangaroos, bandicoots, domestic pets such as dogs and cats can also be infected. Pigs are not known to carry the disease.

Some infected people have no or few symptoms. Common symptoms of Q fever infection include; fevers, chills and sweats, severe headaches, muscle and joint pain as well as extreme fatigue (tiredness).
Those at the greatest risk of contracting the disease include:
  • farmers and shearers, stockyard workers and animal transporters
  • abattoir and meat workers
  • veterinarians, veterinary nurses and veterinary students
  • agriculture college staff and students, including high school ag staff and students
  • wildlife carers
For more information contact your nearest Local Land Services District Veterinarian.


South East Circular is a monthly email newsletter containing information about our services, biosecurity alerts, technical articles and notices of upcoming events, training and funding opportunities. It also celebrates the innovations and achievements of the wide variety of land management partnerships, projects and programs across our region.

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