Leave early message reduces fire stock loss

Need for Feed providing help for drought, fire affected farmers

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Livestock losses were limited, in the early autumn fires

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STOCK LOSSES: An Agriculture Victoria staff member checks on stock. Photo by Will Hume, AgVic.

STOCK LOSSES: An Agriculture Victoria staff member checks on stock. Photo by Will Hume, AgVic.

Livestock losses from the early autumn fires around Bunyip and Gippsland have been kept to a minimum, as property owners heeded warnings to move animals early, according to Agriculture Victoria.

Incident agency commander Rob O’Shannessy said officers had visited 253 properties in the areas affected by the five fires at Yinnar, Bunyip, Dargo, Buchan and Licola.

“Total livestock losses were 25 cattle, three alpacas, two sheep and 37 hens,” Mr O’Shannessy said.

“We are pleasantly surprised at the low numbers, given the size of the fires.

“What we are hearing from farmers is that most of them heeded the early warnings and moved stock away from the areas impacted by the fires.”

But Mr O’Shannessy said there had been a significant loss of pasture, hay and fencing.

Assessments were continuing, but earlier this week Agriculture Victoria estimated 1600 hectares of pasture, 2931 tonnes of hay, 43 hay sheds and 49 machinery sheds had been destroyed.

It was estimated nearly 1100 kilometres of fencing had also been destroyed.

“Once we get the information from the fire agencies, we can overlay that map on our data, showing property identification codes,” Mr O’Shannessy said.

Lions' Need for Feed was providing hay to affected farmers and coordinator Graham Cockerell said the organisation made deliveries as soon as it was allowed in.

"We have just picked up a load of barley hay from Sea Lake, which was a really generous donation," Mr Cockerell said.

Hay was also being sourced from farms in South Gippsland.  

“We’ll wait and see now, there are no fences, so a lot of cattle have already been shifted off, so we’ll wait until things settle down and see how we go," he said.

But Mr Cockerell said Need for Feed was also still distributing hay to Northern Victoria, in particular to dairy farmers.

"Over the weekend we delivered about 650 tonnes of hay to Northern Victoria and southern NSW," Mr Cockerell said.

“They are doing it tough at the moment, with no water allocations, or pricey water, low milk prices and high grain prices."

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