Agriculture Victoria has warned livestock owners to protect the health of their animals from bushfire smoke and consider moving livestock from areas with ongoing, serious smoke impacts.
Livestock tolerate smoke and ash fallout from bushfires well, however some animals, particularly horses, may exhibit minor respiratory problems or eye irritation.
Respiratory symptoms exhibited by livestock are usually increased coughing or increased breathing rates, due to minor irritation of the animals’ airways, and can be identified by excessive tear production.
Depending on the quantity, ash fallout may impact the taste of pasture and livestock should be placed on pastures with the lowest levels of ash.
Agriculture Victoria says if producers are unable to move the livestock, they may have to increase bail feeding, feed out more good quality hay or silage in order to maintain production, or consider agistment.
The level of smoke and ash exposure will vary each day depending on wind conditions, and Agriculture Victoria recommends seeking veterinary advice if livestock owners are concerned their animals have been affected by smoke or ash.
The impact on animals from the inhalation of bushfire smoke and ash is short-term and animals that have not been burnt will typically have no long-term affects.
There are no known food safety issues associated with the exposure of livestock to smoke and ash during bush and grass fires.
Farmers should report injured livestock to Agriculture Victoria on 1800 226 226 for assessment by animal health staff.
For more information about looking after livestock after an emergency visit: agriculture.vic.gov.au