Ma­jor health con­cerns for cat­tle and peo­ple in­ves­ti­gated at Casino sa­le­yard

Agents say dust is a ma­jor is­sue

The Western Star - - RU­RAL WEEKLY - Cathy Adams [email protected]­ern­star.com.au

SAFETY con­cerns have been raised about the Casino sa­le­yards af­ter the death of 20 cat­tle in two weeks.

Agents met last week to dis­cuss what ac­tion they would take af­ter the death of the cat­tle and health com­plaints from peo­ple who vis­ited the North­ern Rivers Live­stock Ex­change.

The cat­tle had been penned at the sa­le­yards, but the ex­act cause of death has yet to be de­ter­mined by au­topsy.

Auc­tion­eers As­so­ci­a­tion vice pres­i­dent Wayne Bul­mer said saw­dust used to cover the floor of the sa­le­yards was a ma­jor is­sue, caus­ing health prob­lems for cat­tle and hu­mans.

“A fine film of dust gets thrown up as the cat­tle move around,” Mr Bul­mer said.

“It set­tles on the rails overnight. Peo­ple are breath­ing it in. We be­lieve it is caus­ing health is­sues.”

Agents de­cided to con­tact Rich­mond Val­ley Coun­cil, which man­ages the fa­cil­ity, in the hope they would work to­gether to find a so­lu­tion.

The coun­cil’s gen­eral man­ager, Vaughan McDon­ald, said he had spo­ken with agents about their con­cerns and would work with them to re­solve any is­sues.

“If there are is­sues, we’ll work in with the agents, and if there are gen­uine is­sues, we will ad­dress them,” he said.

Mr McDon­ald urged any­one whose cat­tle had died to get an au­topsy and in­form the coun­cil of the re­sults so it could iden­tify any prob­lems at the fa­cil­ity. Mr Bul­mer was con­cerned any­one vis­it­ing the fa­cil­ity was at risk.

“A buyer from War­wick was head­ing home af­ter a sale (at Casino) when he started get­ting headaches. He couldn’t drive. He ended up in hos­pi­tal with an asthma sort of thing,” he said.

Mr Bul­mer said re­ports of headaches and mi­graines af­ter at­tend­ing the sales were be­com­ing more com­mon – “it’s get­ting worse and worse”.

Au­top­sies were be­ing con­ducted by ve­teri­nar­i­ans on the 20 cat­tle.

Mr McDon­ald said sprin­kler sys­tems and larger, coarser chip was be­ing used to make sure dust was not an is­sue.

He said 6500 cat­tle passed through the fa­cil­ity last week, and while he ac­knowl­edged there had been cat­tle deaths, he said the cause of the deaths had not yet been de­ter­mined. Mean­while ve­teri­nar­ian Liz Bolin said

A buyer from War­wick was head­ing home af­ter a sale (at Casino) when he started get­ting headaches...

— Wayne Bul­mer

post mortem re­sults were needed to de­ter­mine if saw­dust at the sa­le­yards con­trib­uted to the spike cat­tle deaths in the past month.

Dr Bolin, a North Coast Lo­cal Land Ser­vices district ve­teri­nar­ian, said the cat­tle, all wean­ers, died ei­ther at the NRLX Casino Sa­le­yards or at St Ge­orge or Coon­am­ble af­ter be­ing trans­ported from sales at the yards.

She said it was likely the cat­tle died of ship­ping fever, but the re­sults of post mortems were needed to de­ter­mine if the saw­dust used at the sa­le­yards was a con­tribut­ing fac­tor. She said ship­ping fever was com­mon in the class of cat­tle that died, but there seemed to have been a spike in num­bers, “that’s why peo­ple are talk­ing about it”. Ship­ping fever can oc­cur in stressed wean­ers with poor im­mune sys­tems that haven’t been ex­posed to res­pi­ra­tory virus be­fore, Dr Bolin said.

She said if dust prob­lems were also added to the mix, then you have a com­pound­ing is­sue where cat­tle can die from pneu­mo­nia. Dr Bolin said Rich­mond Val­ley Coun­cil was look­ing into the cause of the deaths, and other op­tions were avail­able if saw­dust was found to be a con­tribut­ing fac­tor, in­clud­ing river sand.

She said soft floor­ing was a step in the right di­rec­tion in terms of an­i­mal wel­fare – cat­tle were suf­fer­ing from lame­ness pre­vi­ously, caused by wet weather, con­crete and rock floor­ing.

Dr Bolin said un­til re­sults were in, it was just spec­u­la­tion saw­dust was an is­sue: “We need a good post mortem to get to the bot­tom of it.”

PHOTO: SU­SANNA FREYMARK

WHAT LIES BE­NEATH: Saw­dust used to cover the floor of the Casino sa­le­yards is caus­ing health prob­lems for cat­tle and hu­mans, ac­cord­ing to live­stock agents.

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