Livestock after an emergency
Managing livestock and horses after an emergency can be challenging, particularly when large areas of the farm have been affected. It could take weeks before burnt fencing can be replaced and with pastures blackened, alternative stock feed will be needed.
The department has a range of information available to assist with managing livestock and horses during and after an emergency.
Assessing livestock after a bushfire
To find out about how fire may affect livestock and how landholders can deal with the situation see:
Smoke, ash and animal health
Animals including livestock generally tolerate smoke and ash fallout from bushfires well, however some animals, particularly cats, dogs and horses, may exhibit minor respiratory problems or eye irritation. In areas where there are ongoing serious smoke impacts, livestock owners may want to consider relocating their animals, depending on advice from emergency services.
The respiratory symptoms observed are usually increased coughing or increased breathing rates due to minor irritation of the animal's airways. Excessive tear production is an indicator of eye irritation.
Ash fallout, depending on quantity, may impact on the palatability of pasture. If possible livestock should be placed on pastures that have the lowest ash burden. If this is not an option then in order to maintain production, producers may have to increase bail feeding or feed out more good quality hay or silage. Agistment may also be an option for cattle and sheep farmers, and horse owners.
Every property and species is different and the levels of smoke and ash exposure will vary from day to day depending on the prevailing wind. Veterinary advice should be sought if animal owners are concerned that their animals are being affected by smoke or ash.
Fire is a natural part of the Victorian environment and livestock are from time to time exposed to bush and grass fires and the associated smoke, ash and embers. The impact is typically short term and associated with the inhalation of smoke and ash during periods of intense exposure. For animals that have not been burnt, there are typically no long term affects.
There are no known issues from a food safety perspective associated with the exposure of livestock to smoke and ash during bush and grass fires.
Feeding and managing livestock
Feed is often limited after an emergency. The department has developed specific information about feeding livestock when feed is limited.
- Drought feeding and management of sheep (PDF - 2.7 MB)
- Drought feeding and management of cattle (PDF - 1.8 MB)
- Drought feeding and management of horses
Often in the aftermath of an emergency, the most suitable (or only) alternative is to agist livestock away from affected properties. See agisting livestock affected by a bushfire for information on the factors to consider when agisting.
Horses after bushfires
Animal health after flood
Floods can bring a range of animal health problems, from food shortage and plant toxicity to dehydration, infection and disease. See animal health after flood.
Disposing of carcasses
To find out about disposing of carcasses as a result of an agricultural emergency see disposal of carcases in response to bushfire, flood or drought.
Managing weed risks
The risk of weed invasion increases dramatically after an emergency, particularly when bringing in hay and grain for stock. See weed warning drought fire flood for information on weed risks and management options after an emergency.
Emergency stock containment areas
See stock containment areas for information on what to consider when establishing a stock containment area.