Pro­tect live­stock from fires

Shepparton News - Country News - - LIVESTOCK - — Dr Jeff Cave district vet­eri­nary of­fi­cer Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria

All live­stock own­ers need to be well pre­pared and plan for the pos­si­bil­ity of a fire emer­gency on their farm.

A key fac­tor in min­imis­ing the risk to live­stock dur­ing a bush­fire or on ex­treme fire dan­ger days, is to iden­tify safer ar­eas on the farm where live­stock can be moved.

The area you choose will de­pend on the type of live­stock you are farm­ing and their ex­pected be­hav­iour dur­ing a fire.

Other fac­tors to con­sider in­clude the ter­rain and ac­ces­si­bil­ity of the area as well as the be­hav­iour of the fire it­self.

Hav­ing a live­stock fire plan that has been care­fully thought through and can be quickly ex­e­cuted will min­imise the risk to stock and peo­ple, es­pe­cially if that plan has been prac­tised prior to an event.

Hav­ing a fire­break of some sort is im­per­a­tive — us­ing bare laneways and ploughed breaks can be ef­fec­tive, as can heav­ily grazed pad­docks with lowlevel veg­e­ta­tion.

Low risk ar­eas shouldn’t be next to ar­eas of scrub or bush­land and should be large enough to al­low live­stock to move away from a fire.

All low risk ar­eas should have suf­fi­cient drink­ing water to en­able stock to re­main in the area for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of high fire risk and high tem­per­a­tures, be pro­tected by fire­breaks and be free of leaf, twigs and bark build-up.

Ar­eas where there are dams and swamps are also safer.

Stock­yards have been known to suc­cess­fully hold stock dur­ing a fire if pro­tected by a fire­break.

If this is your pre­ferred op­tion, con­sider us­ing a sprin­kler sys­tem so that stock that are be­ing held to­gether on a hot day, don't suf­fer heat stress.

Horses should not be locked up in small ar­eas or sta­bles but moved to an open pad­dock with min­i­mal veg­e­ta­tion, so they can move freely.

Horses are good at mov­ing them­selves to safe open ar­eas and usu­ally suf­fer min­i­mal burns if left to do so.

If equip­ment such as rugs, hal­ters and fly-veils re­main on horses, the plas­tic may melt, and metal buck­les can burn the an­i­mal.

Con­sider us­ing rope hal­ters for eas­ier han­dling and man­age­ment.

It’s cru­cial not to open gates that may al­low stock ac­cess to pub­lic road­ways, as they will be a haz­ard to traf­fic in smoky con­di­tions.

If you in­tend to re­lo­cate your horse to a safer prop­erty, en­sure this is done early in the day be­fore a fire threat­ens, or ideally the day be­fore.

On days of ex­treme fire dan­ger or ideally the day be­fore, stock should be moved into lower risk ar­eas.

Aim to act early and don’t get caught try­ing to move stock as a fire ap­proaches and lis­ten to weather fore­casts and ob­serve your own en­vi­ron­ment to help you de­cide when to put your plan into ac­tion.

■ For more in­for­ma­tion on pre­par­ing a farm and live­stock bush­fire plan, go to: agri­cul­ture.vic.gov.au/agri­cul­ture/ emer­gen­cies or phone the Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria Cus­tomer Ser­vice Cen­tre on 136 186.

Plan ahead . . . Live­stock own­ers should be pre­pared for a fire emer­gency.

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