News

Livestock deaths rising

By Geoff Adams

The number of livestock killed this NSW bushfire season has now surpassed 6200, with fears the toll could reach 20 000 once recent deaths are counted.

NSW DPI is providing struggling farmers with emergency fodder and water, animal care, livestock assessment and stock euthanasia and burial where necessary.

Last Tuesday, NSW DPI said the livestock toll had jumped to 6284, with almost 5200 of those deaths occurring since Christmas.

The previous estimate of livestock losses was 3900, with 700 stock killed in the Northern Tablelands, north coast and Hunter before Christmas and 400 stock lost around Lithgow and Bathurst over the holiday period.

NSW Farmers’ Association chief executive Pete Arkle last week said he expected the toll to climb as high as 20 000, after herds perished in the fires that tore through southern NSW over the weekend of January 4 and 5.

“The anecdotal feedback we are receiving from the south of the state is that there have been substantial stock losses over the weekend (January 4 and 5),” Mr Arkle said.

“It will probably be between 10 000 and 20 000. Some people had some lead time so they could move stock.”

More than 880 tonnes of fodder for surviving cattle will be sent to farms across the NSW south coast as soon as fire activity eases.

Authorities aren't aware of any dairy herds being lost, Mr Arkle said.

NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said field crews had assessed stock in a number of fire grounds including Cobargo, Bemboka, Wandella, Eurobodalla, Buckenbowra, Bombala, Exeter and Bundanoon.

He said livestock killed in Batlow had been buried, while fodder distribution points had been set up in Moruya, Bega and Cooma.

But pasture and haysheds have been destroyed and some areas are without power, making generators necessary for milking.

“Farmers really care for their animals and in many cases they have managed them through months of crippling drought, so to see them affected like this is heartbreaking,” Mr Marshall said.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack last week said helping farmers access their properties was a priority and the Federal Government would deploy 100 vets to ensure carcases around the country were disposed of correctly.