Livestock transporters, industry step up fire support

Livestock transporters, industry step up fire support

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Livestock transporters, abattoirs, feedlotters and landholders with feed have combined to shift a thousands of cattle from fire ravaged areas.

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Livestock transporters were quick to come to the aid of producers caught in major blazes around the state.

The fire season that has engulfed large areas of Victoria and southern NSW has added a further load to livestock transporters.

Livestock and Rural Transport Association of Victoria president John Beer said access and loss of facilities were major problems in the fire-affected areas.

Mr Beer said transport operators had been working hard with landholders to move stock as required.

He said the extra load of stock movements on top of, in some cases, fire fighting, could also add to fatigue levels.

He said operators needed to manage their fatigue and if they were tired to take breaks.

The authorities also needed to use some common sense when enforcing fatigue management during the fires and recovery, he said.

The loss of existing stock handling facilities on-farm could provide an opportunity for landholders to upgrade when erecting new ramps and yards.

He said there were ramp guidelines available that could assist landholders in deciding how and where to replace yards and stock ramps to provide safe facilities for producers and transporters.

Everyone just stepped in to help where they could, livestock transporter Ross Lochhead, Kiewa, said.

Mr Lochhead said the Corryong-based transporters were quick to assist with carting cattle to abattoirs, on to feed or feedlots.

"Anyone who could was lending a hand," he said.

Cudgewa-based livestock transport operator and landholder Rob Whitely said thousands of cattle had been lifted from the area.

He said it was great to see abattoirs and feedlots taking cattle that hadn't been booked in or weren't quite ready.

Agents had also helped and agistment had been found in areas across Victoria as well as the Riverina of NSW.

At the Lexton fire north-west of Ballarat, Avoca-based livestock transporter, Graham Howell, said he had removed 15 to 18 loads of sheep from farms in the area.

He said the major problem was access to the livestock as roads were closed and authorities had not allowed trucks access.

Mr Howell said the rules needed to allow people with legitimate reasons to enter the area.

Mr Lochhead said his 11-metre tray truck proved ideal for moving stock from farm to farm at the Corryong blaze.

He said the pressure had now reduced as producers had decided what cattle they were keeping and what were going.

Much of the fire-affected area had now received 50 to 75 millimetres since the fire which might promote a green pick, he said.

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