Subscribe       View in Browser      Forward via Email

South East Circular

Edition 24, October/November 2016

Local disease watch 

Bill Johnson
District Veterinarian
Bloat is one those frustrating diseases that cattle producers encounter.  After hand-feeding all winter waiting for spring to arrive, some paddocks now have too much clover.  Bloat occurs when cattle eat highly digestible feed, including clover, lucerne and even lush ryegrass.  Gas produced during digestion builds up in the paunch, first seen as a bulge high on the right side, putting pressure on the chest to make breathing difficult.  Cattle can die quickly, within half an hour of access to bloat-prone pasture.  Bloat is of particular concern in young cattle, weaners and yearlings, although all ages of cattle may be affected.  Moving cattle to fresh pasture is often the trigger for bloat to occur, when hungry cattle gorge themselves on fresh growth. Allow cattle access to cereal or pasture hay prior to any paddock change, or after time off feed in yards for husbandry procedures.  A number of products are available to help minimise bloat, including lick blocks and loose licks. Cattle take some time to become accustomed to using licks, so introduce them early, before their lives depend on intake. NSW DPI Primefact 416 has more information on bloat
Johne’s disease
Our July newsletter forewarned of changes to management of Johne’s disease in Australia. Key changes remove quarantines for infected beef herds, remove any distinction between Johne’s disease strains affecting sheep and cattle, stop tracing of animals sold from infected herds, and no longer require a compulsory Dairy Assurance Score for dairy cattle sales.  The Johne’s disease Market Assurance Program (JD-MAP), where producers opt to test and manage their herds or flocks to reduce the likelihood of Johne’s disease, has been scrapped. In its place, producers provide a revised Dairy Assurance Score declaration for dairy cattle, or Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) for beef herds. Prospective purchasers are encouraged to ask for these Johne’s disease declarations from vendors, to help them assess the risk of stock they intend to purchase.  Cattle sellers are reminded to discuss these new Johne’s disease guidelines with their veterinarian.  In many cases, there is a twelve-month transition period to allow time for those covered by the old JD-MAP or Beef-only rules to adopt the new guidelines. The changes were agreed to nationally, but already there are differences between some states.  Western Australia in particular continues to restrict entry of untested cattle from eastern states, so producers contemplating sales to the west should not let their current assurance score lapse.  More information.
Footrot in sheep and goats
Conditions are ideal for the spread of footrot in sheep and goats.  Footrot is a bacterial disease causing foot lesions ranging from inflammation between the claws to complete separation of the hoof.  Warm temperatures and dense, damp pastures favour the disease, encouraging spread within the flock, and maximising expression.  The strain of the footrot bug present in your sheep or goats determines whether the disease is benign footrot (or “foot scald”), or virulent footrot.  New cases of virulent footrot have been reported from several areas of New South Wales in recent weeks, and cases are expected in the south region as daytime temperatures rise. Lameness is the first sign.  Sheep and goat producers are urged to be on the lookout for footrot in their flocks, and to report any concerns to their district veterinarian.  Virulent footrot used to be common in this area, affecting about one in five flocks.  A huge effort by producers, stock agents, vets and animal biosecurity staff over several decades brought the disease under control. It is imperative that any suspicion of footrot is investigated early, to limit any possible spread, and to minimise the animal welfare and production impacts.  The majority of lameness cases investigated turn out to be something other than footrot.
Blowfly strike in sheep
The same warm, wet conditions that promote spring pasture growth also favour blowfly strike in sheep.  Many more sheep than usual are affected by fleece-rot and dermo this year, two bacterial skin infections helped by frequent wetting, which attract the sheep blowfly.  Add to that a number of sheep with voluminous dags, and sheep become more susceptible to both body strike and breech strike.  Timely crutching or shearing reduces the chance of breech strike, but chemical prevention is the best short-term protection against body strike if shearing is a way off.  Choosing the right chemical raises a number of issues.  There are several withholding periods on the product label to consider before you apply any chemicals to the fleece.  The meat withholding period is the time between treatment and slaughter for Australian consumption; the export slaughter interval is the length of time between treatment and slaughter for meat export; the wool harvest interval is the time between treatment and subsequent shearing; and some products specify a wool rehandling interval, the period between treatment and when it is again safe for workers to handle those sheep.  These numbers vary widely between products, from nil to six months.  On top of this, the method of application and the duration of any protection following treatment also vary. The Flyboss website can provide advice on making the right chemical choice.
Theileria in cattle
The first cases of theileriosis for the season have occurred in cattle on both the coast and tablelands.  This tiny blood parasite is thought to be spread by ticks, although there is speculation additional vectors including sucking lice and biting flies, may also have a role.  The disease causes profound anaemia and often jaundice. W here the disease has been present in the herd for some time, as is often the case on the coast, older cattle appear to have some immunity, while calves are affected. Adult cattle in tablelands herds with coastal connections, such as returning from agistment, or following contact with cattle purchased from coastal areas, may be hit hard. Seven of fifty cows back from agistment died recently, and a number close to calving aborted. Sick animals separate from the herd, spend a lot of time lying down, appear breathless, and are reluctant to travel. Treatment is often unsuccessful, and avoiding stress from handling or transport is critical.
Worms and fluke in sheep
High levels of black scour and brown stomach worms have developed in some mobs of merino hoggets.  In all cases, these young sheep have continued to graze the same country throughout winter. Some of them have been set-stocked, while others have grazed in a four or six paddock rotation.  They usually got only a short reprieve of a couple of weeks following the last drench, before starting to scour and rapidly lose weight.  Worm egg counts give a measure of pasture contamination, providing you know that the previous drench was effective; counts approaching two thousand eggs per gram and predominantly scour worms, are common in these scouring hoggets. Budget on them needing a follow-up drench in another four to five weeks, if they again need to return to the same paddock.  The majority of worm egg counts now have some Haemonchus (barber's pole worms).  We've become accustomed to seeing low proportions of Haemonchus in relatively low worm egg counts at this time of year.  But in some mobs, we now have more than 80% Haemonchus in pretty solid counts.  Coupled with what will start out as a bumper spring, there is the prospect that barber's pole populations in some sheep could cause deaths by New Year. It is important to know the situation in your sheep now, with a worm egg count and culture. Coughing lambs this month were found to have lungworm.  Rain helps larvae of this parasite escape from faeces, and short winter pastures mean larvae don't have far to climb. Milder winter temperatures with few heavy frosts also encourage survival of lungworm larvae.  Most drenches kill lungworm. And with all that surface water about, the small freshwater liver fluke snail will have a breeding bonanza in a few weeks.  These snails also multiply the free-living stage of liver fluke, able to turn a single fluke larva into four thousand or so fluke cysts waiting on vegetation for a passing grazing animal.  The trick is to remove liver fluke from infected sheep, cattle and goats now, prior to them infecting the developing snails.  Recent tests have shown a high percentage of properties with liver fluke in cattle, so you'd expect the same to apply to sheep flocks run on properties with flowing creeks or seeping springs.

Q fever cases on the rise in the Braidwood district

Kate Sawford
District Veterinarian
Over the past few weeks there have been a number of human cases of Q fever reported across the district. In response, exposure testing will be available at the Wilson Street Surgery with the view to vaccinate those who are both unexposed and at increased risk of the disease.

Q fever is a bacterial illness that spreads from infected animals to people.  Acute infection typically causes a severe flu-like illness with signs including high fevers and chills, severe sweats, severe headaches, muscle and joint pains, and extreme tiredness. It can be associated with inflammation of the liver and pneumonia. It can sometimes lead to a chronic illness resulting in inflammation of the heart or liver. Some people develop chronic fatigue after have Q fever, which can last for many years after initial infection.

Read the full article

Water for Rivers project -
Green Globe finalist

Shannon Brennan
Senior Land Services Officer (Natural Resource Management)
South East Local Land Services' Water for Rivers project was recently a finalist in the 2016 Green Globe Awards.  The Green Globe Awards celebrate the work of organisations and individuals who are leading the way in making NSW a place where people and nature thrive. The awards are the leading environmental recognition program, celebrating excellence, leadership and innovation in sustainability.
The Water for Rivers project was a finalist in the Natural Environment Award category which recognises leadership in protecting and enhancing natural ecosystems.  Water for Rivers is a willow control program in the Bombala-Delegate catchment.  The project has demonstrated leadership and excellence in catchment rehabilitation with a strong commitment to effective engagement with land managers.  South East Local Land Services would like to acknowledge the Australian, NSW and Victorian Governments which have provided funding for the project and the following partners: participating land managers, NSW Department of Industry - Crown Lands, Forestry Corporation of NSW, Bombala Council (Snowy Monaro Regional Council), NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Landcare, Delegate Primary School, Platypus Pals, and Snowy River Interstate Landcare Committee.
Further information:  Green Globe Awards or contact Shannon Brennan on 02 6491 7823.

Image:  Willow control works along the Little Plains River as part of the Water for Rivers Project.

New technology supports local decision making

Matthew Lieschke
Senior Land Services Officer, Livestock
Graziers are now able to keep a close eye on what’s happening under their feet thanks to a joint initiative between South East Local Land Services, Tablelands Farming Systems (TFS) and Monaro Farming Systems (MFS). Together, these organisations have established a network of moisture probes across the Southern Tablelands and Monaro, providing real-time information on soil moisture and temperate at 10 cm increments down to 1 m.

Fourteen probes have been installed at the following locations: Boorowa, Bigga, Taralga, Laggan, Wheeo, Grabben Gullen, Bannister, Gunning, lake Bathurst, Braidwood, Cooma (two), Delegate and Bombala.

To support decision making, a three month ‘seasonal outlook’ for each of the 14 localities will be produced every autumn and spring. The first of these outlooks (seasonal outlook - spring 2016) is publicly available.
A dedicated website to host the probe information and seasonal outlook reports is currently being developed and will be up and running in early 2017.  Site descriptions for each probe will also feature on the website, containing photos and specific information regarding soil type, pasture, paddock history, grazing management, livestock enterprise and surrounding landscape and vegetation. This information will help producers interpret the data and put it into context.
Further information:  Please contact Matthew.Lieschke on 02 4824 1913.

Images:  Bannister producer, John Klem measures real-time soil moisture information on his property.  John is one of several land managers who is hosting soil moisture probes to help develop a better understanding of moisture levels in grazing systems.

Improving pasture soil fertility decision making

Fiona Leech
Senior Land Services Officer, Mixed Farming Systems

Land managers from the Yass Valley, Boorowa, Upper Lachlan, Goulburn-Mulwaree or Wingecarribee local government areas who have an interest in gaining a better understanding of their soil fertility are encouraged to participate in a new soil testing program.

This South East Local Land Services program will include:

  • Subsidised soil testing - participants will have an opportunity to conduct four soil tests per property based on a "two-for-one" offer.  Soil testing is being offered for 0 to 10 cm tests only.
  • A two-day face-to-face workshop with technical expertise and support using the successful Five Easy Steps course to help producers interpret results and develop a fertiliser program that is tailored to their property.
An initial two hour session to explain the correct soil sampling protocol, tips on choosing which paddocks or areas to sample and loaning of soil coring equipment will be held shortly - locations and venues to be advised.

To register:  Please contact Fiona Leech 0427 201 805 or Matthew Lieschke 0428 271 127.

Young sheep exceed expectations at Gunning

Matthew Lieschke
Senior Land Services Officer, Livestock
A mob of merino weaners at Gunning has performed exceptionally well this winter, despite the extremely wet and challenging conditions. The latest results from a monitoring project on Jack and Jennifer Medway’s property “Hillcrest” at Gunning shows ewe weaners putting on 6.3 kg over the three month period (1 June to 6 September 2016). Once again, the project revealed a large variation in performance between animals, with some weaners putting on 1.5 to 2.0 kg and others putting on over 10 kg.

Further information:  Merino weaner monitoring project

Image:  Merino weaners grazing an improved pasture at "Hillcrest", Gunning.

Getting bulls ready for joining

Kate Sawford
District Veterinarian
Many producers are getting ready to join bulls for a spring calving period. An important goal in any beef breeding herd is a short calving period with a high weaning percentage from all groups of cows. Therefore bulls must be willing and able to serve a high percentage of cows on heat and free of any abnormalities of the reproductive tract, feet and legs.

Ideally bulls are examined during the weeks leading up to joining. There are many things that can be checked that influence the success of a bull’s joining period, including scrotal circumference, sperm morphology and motility, the reproductive tract, soundness and health of the bull, mating ability and libido, age and condition, and social interactions between bulls.

Read the full article

Tomago River project wins award

Kirsti Sampson
Senior Land Services Officer
Congratulations to Mogo Local Aboriginal Land Council’s (MLALC) environmental rangers who were recently awarded the Habitat and Wildlife Guardianship Award from Keep Australia Beautiful in recognition of their work to address the impact of erosion on the Tomaga River and protect a large midden and historical fire pit

The site, owned by MLALC, and adjacent to a busy caravan park presented a number of remediation issues, not the least being the sensitivity of the midden to a range of typical remediation techniques.  The area was heavily impacted by wave erosion which was removing sediment and vegetation and severely impacting the midden. 

South East Local Land Services was approached by MLALC to help support its environmental ranger team to remediate the site and preserve its cultural heritage values. Working with Land Services Officer Sonia Bazzacco, it was decided that a combination of sandbags and mangrove revegetation would be the most suitable and affordable intervention as they act to reduce the velocity and capacity of waves to erode the bank.

The project also presented an excellent opportunity for the ranger team to learn new skills.  They took to the two week task of sewing, filling and installing over 3,000 sandbags along a 160 m section of riverbank.  Over 600 mangrove seedlings were grown in a mangrove nursery specially built by the rangers and then planted on the site.  In response to community consultations undertaken before the project went ahead access for kayakers and fishers, including specially built gates and launching zones were incorporated into the designs. Signage has been installed to inform people about the works and the important role of marine vegetation in stabilising banks and creating fish habitat.

The sandbags remain in place for 8 to 10 years to allow enough time for the bank to stabilise and mangroves to establish. The works were completed a year ago and monitoring indicates the sandbags are working.  The rangers will continue to maintain the site and liaise with the community on these project works.
This project was funded through the Australian Government's Realise the Potential of Wetlands program.

Image:  Mogo Local Aboriginal Land Council rangers hard at work sandbagging and planting a section of the Tomago River to reduce wave and erosion forces.

Red meat integrity system

Fiona Kelk
District Veterinarian
Australia's red meat integrity system is entering a new phase with stronger accreditation processes that are linked to producer learning and online information.   An electronic National Vendor Declaration system is being introduced as an alternative to the original paper-based NVD which will make completing a NVD easier and faster.  A new online course for red meat producers on farm safe food practices has also been launched.

Further information:  Meat & Livestock Australia

Get quad safe


Tocal College in partnership with SafeWork NSW is offering subsidised quad bike training to eligible farmers and their workers.

Further information: Course details.


Latest news


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.

All comments can be sent to:
You are receiving as a subscriber to our email updates. To stop receiving further updates simply click on the unsubscribe link.

unsubscribe from this list  
update subscription preferences 
Local Land Services South East
1 300 795 299