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Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 4 July 2019
In this edition

Winter risk of twin lambing disease

Seasonal climate risk information for Victoria

What are the risk factors of grass tetany?

New 'fit to load' guide released

Skilling the next generation of Victorian farmers

Screening service tests for insecticide resistance in crop pest

New genetics hub demystifies breeding values

Energy grants for agriculture

What's On

Latest News
Winter risk of twin lambing disease
twin lambs

As we move into winter we may begin to see cases of pregnancy toxaemia (‘twin lamb disease’) in ewes.

Twin lamb disease occurs because of inadequate energy intake during the last four to six weeks of pregnancy. During this time a ewe’s energy needs increase substantially, as she must provide energy for both herself and her rapidly growing lamb.

Ewes that are carrying twins and triplets are particularly susceptible, hence the name ‘twin lamb disease’.

Agriculture Victoria South West District Veterinarian Dr Elle Moyle said scanning pregnant ewes for multiple lambs (twins/triplets) and prioritising their nutrition is the place to start. Maintaining and increasing the ewe’s energy intake through pasture prioritisation or supplementary feeding during the last eight weeks of pregnancy can prevent twin lamb disease.

“An outbreak of twin lamb disease is often triggered by stress and conditions that cause a low intake of food such as severe weather conditions, yarding or holding off feed," Dr Moyle said.

“Affected ewes usually appear dopey, blind and unresponsive." Dr Moyle said the condition may progress over several days.

“The presence of affected ewes is an indicator of the health and nutrition of the whole flock. A number of other ewes may also be affected and become further cases of twin lamb disease,” she said.

Other conditions which may lead to the disease include:

  • ewes that have a previous history of pregnancy toxaemia
  • extensive grazing situations, where the last third of pregnancy coincides with a late break in the season, followed by cold weather leading to little pasture growth
  • stress, due to climatic conditions, handling, being mustered, or management procedures
  • heavy worm infestation.

Affected ewes can occasionally be successfully treated by an energy-rich drench such as glycerine, provided that the drench is given during the early stages of the disease.

“More importantly, good quality supplementary feeding should be given to those ewes most at risk,” Dr Moyle said.

For further advice please contact your veterinarian or local Agriculture Victoria Veterinary Officer by calling the Agriculture Victoria customer service centre on 136 186.

Seasonal climate risk information for Victoria
GRDC fast break tile

Adequate follow up rains occurred across most of the state in June with parts of the Wimmera and South West being wettest.

To find out where the rain fell and if there is more on the way, download the latest edition of The Fast Break newsletter - an update on seasonal climate drivers and outlooks.

Download at:

What are the risk factors of grass tetany?

Dr Jeff Cave, District Veterinary Officer

In any season, it is sensible to try and anticipate animal health problems that may occur.
At this time of year, grass tetany has the potential to be a significant problem in cattle in this part of Australia.

Grass Tetany cows in paddock

Since cattle with grass tetany often die suddenly, the first sign of grass tetany on your property may be a deceased cow.

To establish the likelihood of grass tetany occurring on your property, it is worth considering some of the risk factors involved, which can include:

  • grazing on immature, rapidly growing, grass dominant pastures;
  • soils high in potassium, or with the heavy use of nitrogen or potash fertilisers;
  • older, fatter cows soon after calving are most likely to be affected;
  • low blood magnesium levels in cows; and
  • cool and cloudy weather.

After considering the risk factors it is worth planning how you can prevent, and if necessary treat, an outbreak of grass tetany on your property.

Grass tetany occurs when blood magnesium levels are low. Hence the condition’s other name – hypomagnesaemia. Cattles’ bodies are unable to store magnesium.

To prevent grass tetany, magnesium supplementation needs to be given daily to cattle at greatest risk during periods of greatest risk.

Have you considered how you could supplement your herd? Whether it is by giving Causmag treated hay, mineral licks, magnesium capsules, or by some other means?

When cattle are affected clinically with grass tetany they display initial excitement, bellowing, muscle spasms, tetany and finally convulsions before dying.

Since grass tetany leads to the rapid death of cattle, the treatment of clinical cases is an emergency and veterinary assistance should be sought immediately. A veterinarian will give a calcium and magnesium solution intravenously.

If a veterinarian is not available, the calcium and magnesium solution should at least be given under the skin.

Clinical cases of grass tetany and cattle lost to the condition are best prevented with some forward planning.

For further advice, please contact your local veterinarian or Agriculture Victoria Veterinary Officer or Animal Health Officer.

New 'fit to load' guide released

An updated guide to help producers, agents, buyers and transporters decide if an animal is fit to be loaded for transport by road or rail has been released by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

The 2019 edition of the national guide, Is the animal fit to load?, includes new content to ensure best practice animal welfare when preparing, loading and delivering cattle, sheep and goats.

MLA General Manager – Producer Consultation and Adoption, Michael Crowley, said with the industry continuing to deal with ongoing dry conditions across many livestock production regions, the release of the revised guide was timely.

“The Australian red meat industry is absolutely committed to animal welfare practices and ensuring livestock are cared for,” Mr Crowley said.

“The guide has been developed to help livestock operators meet the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for the Land Transport of Livestock, and decide whether an animal is fit to be loaded for transport and for the entire journey by road or rail, to any destination within Australia.

“It contains new information about loading densities for livestock, managing effluent, and the chain of responsibility for all involved.

“The roles and responsibilities of consignors and transporters are clearly defined in the guide, along with checklists to help assess whether an animal is fit to load.

“Knowing who the ‘person in charge’ of animals is at different stages of the journey and the scope of those responsibilities is important for many reasons.

“If the ‘person in charge’ prepares to transport or transports an animal that is unfit, that person commits an act of cruelty upon that animal and may be liable to prosecution under state or territory legislation. As such, it is also unacceptable for any party to coerce or intimidate the ‘person in charge’ into loading an animal that is not fit for the journey.”

The new guide has been endorsed by all red meat peak industry councils, Animal Health Australia, Dairy Australia, and other peak industry bodies throughout the value chain. This includes the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, the Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association, and the Australian Livestock Markets’ Association.

To download the guide or to order a hard copy, visit the MLA website:

Skilling the next generation of Victorian farmers
Young farmers scholarship

The Victorian Government’s Upskill and Invest Young Farmers Scholarships are now open to young farmers looking to access study and training, and then invest on-farm or in further professional development.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes opened the 2019 program during a visit to former scholarship recipient Kate Kirk’s Bass Coast Dairy Farm in Loch and encouraged young famers to apply.

A passionate advocate of animal welfare, Ms Kirk used her scholarship to do an advanced hoof care course and shared her learnings with her employees and other farmers.

She used the financial support to purchase a cattle crush, providing a safe environment to practice hoof husbandry.

Up to $10,000 is available per scholarship – with each recipient eligible for up to $5,000 to support their training and study in areas such as business and risk management, genetics and pasture management development.

Once recipients complete their studies, they will receive further support of up to $5,000 to put their new skills into practice through professional development, business planning or to invest on-farm in equipment.

The Young Farmers Scholarship program has successfully supported 50 young farmers to develop their skills across a range of agriculture sectors since 2015.

The Government works to support Victoria’s next generation of food and fibre leaders through a range of programs including the Young Farmer Business Bootcamps, Young Farmers Business Network and the Young Farmers Advisory Council.

Applications for this year’s round of scholarships are open to farmers aged 35 or under who have been working in farm businesses at least three days a week for the past three months, with at least two years total experience on-farm.

To find out more about the program and to apply for a scholarship, visit

Screening service tests for insecticide resistance in crop pest
Red legged earth mite

Grain growers are being asked whether they have noticed a chemical control failure or suspect insecticide resistance in redlegged earth mite (RLEM).

If they have, research organisation cesar is again making available to growers and advisers a screening service to test for insecticide resistance in RLEM.

This no-cost screening service is made possible through a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) investment being led by the University of Melbourne, in collaboration with cesar, the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and CSIRO.

Dr Paul Umina of cesar said a major concern facing the Australian grains industry is the reliance on three registered chemical classes to control this insect pest – neonicotinoids as a seed dressing, and synthetic pyrethroids (SPs) and organophosphates (OPs) as foliar insecticides.

“Insecticide resistance in RLEM to both SPs and OPs has been confirmed in multiple populations from South Australia,” Dr Umina said.

“Resistance had previously only been detected in Western Australian populations.”

RLEM populations from South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales are being screened by cesar.

The research group is interested in hearing from growers or advisers who have had noted recent or past failures in paddocks that are continually needing to control RLEM with pesticides.

Dr Umina said RLEM populations from paddocks which are frequently impacted by the mites, and often require spraying, are ideal candidates for resistance testing.

“Although insecticide options are limited, it is still crucial to minimise chemical use and rotate chemical groups to curb the spread of insecticide resistance,” he said.

“The screening service will not only help detect any resistance before it becomes widespread but will also assist in identifying the best control options for growers.”

A kit can be provided containing the necessary equipment to send mites in if required.

Growers and advisers are encouraged to make use of this service, and also refer to the recently updated RLEM Resistance Management Strategy to help avoid control failures.

The RLEM Resistance Management Strategy can be found on the GRDC website, as well as the IPM Guidelines for Grains website

New genetics hub demystifies breeding values
MLA genetics hub header

Commercial cattle and sheep producers now have new tools to help them start using breeding values in their bull and ram buying decisions, following the launch of new genetics resources by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

This includes a new genetics hub – – which provides a one-stop-shop of tools and resources, aimed at demystifying genetics and breeding values.

MLA General Manager – Producer Consultation and Adoption, Michael Crowley, said the hub is part of a broader approach being taken by MLA over coming months to inform producers about the role of genetics in achieving business productivity targets.

“A suite of articles, producer case studies, advertisements and videos have been developed and will be showcased in MLA’s Feedback magazine, Friday Feedback e-newsletter, social media channels and in rural media,” Mr Crowley said.

The resources will be accompanied with the tagline: ‘Accelerate your productivity with genetics: Better breeding values. Better progeny. Better performance.’

The hub itself is designed for tropical and temperate cattle producers and Merino and prime lamb producers, who either under-utilise or haven’t adopted breeding values, but are open to learning about them in order to understand the role genetics can play in improving their business performance.

On the hub, producers have access to:

  • ‘Pick the performer’ ads demonstrating the value of investing in quality breeding values
  • Videos of commercial producers demonstrating how breeding values have helped increase profit in their herds and flocks
  • How-to animated tutorials outlining the basics of breeding values, setting a breeding objective and picking a high-performing sire.

Mr Crowley said the hub provides a clear, jargon-free look at how better breeding values can help producers boost productivity and profitability.

“There’s a clear link between genetics and the commercial profitability of the Australian livestock industry,” Mr Crowley said.

“While it’s not a ‘silver bullet’, genetic improvement is among the tools available to commercial producers to help address the key drivers of industry profit including improved market compliance and eating quality, and improved fertility and livestock productivity.”

Despite the link between genetic gain and profit, the uptake of the use of breeding values by commercial livestock producers is low in some sectors.

“Key reasons for this include the lack of ‘proof of profit’ and the genetics language and resources being too complex to understand,” Mr Crowley said.

“MLA has established the new genetics hub and other resources to help producers overcome these barriers and either get started with using breeding values or use them more effectively.”

The hub and broader communications seek to contribute to the National Livestock Genetic Consortium’s goal of doubling the rate of genetic gain in the commercial livestock value chain by 2022.

On-farm energy grants program open
Rural landscape energy generation

Farmers are now able to apply for an on-farm energy grant.

The on-farm energy grants are available to eligible primary producers until March 2020 or until available funding is exhausted (whichever comes first).

Apply early so you don’t miss out.

You will need an on-farm energy assessment, or an equivalent certified on-farm energy assessment conducted in the past two years, to access one of the grants under the Agriculture Investment Energy Plan (AEIP). Find out more on the Agriculture Victoria website

What's on
2019 Victoria Landcare awards

Nominations are now open for the 2019 Victorian Landcare Awards, which recognise and celebrate the achievement of volunteers making significant contributions to protect, conserve and restore our environment.

There are nine National Landcare Award categories and six Victorian Award categories.

Image - Grand ridge Propagation

Nominations are encouraged from anyone involved in protecting and improving the environment and natural resource management, they include individuals, groups and organisations, for example:

  • Landcare individuals, groups and networks
  • Sustainable farmers and professional farming systems groups
  • Indigenous Landcare groups and individuals
  • Urban Landcare groups including ‘Friends of’ and bushcare groups
  • Coastcare, Rivercare, Dunecare groups and individuals
  • Environmental groups
  • Natural resource management agencies
  • Local government
  • Research agencies
  • Agricultural co-operatives, industry associations, suppliers or individual primary producers
  • Junior Landcare (including day care centres, primary and secondary schools)
  • Youth groups including Scouts and Girls Guides

If you’re aware of an individual, group or network that deserves to be recognised, you can find more information, including criteria and how to nominate on the Landcare Awards website

Australian Ag Immersive Technology Conference

The potential of augmented and virtual reality to transform agricultural supply chains will be explored at a new event hosted by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) in collaboration with other Australian Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs).

The inaugural Australian Ag Immersive Technology Conference 2019 will be held at the Melbourne Exhibition and Conference Centre from 10–11 July 2019.

Conference header tile

The two-day conference, trade show and think tank, is designed to investigate augmented and virtual reality, known as mixed reality, for all agriculture sectors and along the entire length of each supply chain.

The conference will include more than 40 presentations demonstrating end‐use applications of various mixed reality deployments from both agriculture and non‐agriculture sectors under the following six theme streams:

  • Theme 1 – Marketing and Consumer messaging
  • Theme 2 – Engaging with consumers at retail
  • Theme 3 – Education and Training
  • Theme 4 – Manufacturing Operations (and auditing)
  • Theme 5 – Engineering, Maintenance and Safety
  • Theme 6 – On‐farm (operations)

End users, hardware providers, developers and integrators, and universities and students are encouraged to attend the conference, trade show and think tank.

The conference is being presented by MLA, with support from AgriFutures Australia, Australian Eggs, Australian Pork, Australian Wool Innovation, Dairy Australia, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Forest and Wood Products Australia, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Hort Innovation, Sugar Research Australia and Wine Australia.

Tickets to the conference are $100 and registration is essential. Book now.

Opportunity for Profit Workshop
Workshop Details

Where: Lake Bolac

When: Monday 15 July, 8:45am - 12:45pm

Free workshop


This half day workshop will delve into the results from a three year national project funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

The project has benchmarked more than 300 grain businesses nationally to identify what drives profit in each agro-ecological zone and how the provision of technical information links with these profit drivers.

At the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  1. Understand the performance of the top 20 per cent of growers in your region
  2. Build your knowledge around the profit drivers that really make a difference in a grain business
  3. Identify the management traits of a top 20 per cent grower
  4. Have access to diagnostic tools and processes to easily assess your own business performance

For more information and to register call 08 8841 4500, email or visit

Bioindicators of high performing soils
Meeting Details

When:  Monday 22 July, 11am

Where: Maroona Rec Reserve hall, 7356 Mortlake-Ararat Road, Maroona

FREE (Lunch provided)

RSVP (for catering):  Wednesday 17 July



You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Managing biological function is central to improving soil productivity.

Improving soil biological function could help reduce yield gaps in cropping soils of western Victoria.

In 2019, the Cooperative Research Centre for High Performance Soils (Soils CRC) will pilot a project to design practical tools to measure and monitor biological functions in a target cropping area of western Victoria. 

The Soils CRC is looking to partner with cropping farmers and advisors who can help make these tools simple, practical and useful for farmers.

You are invited to meet with leading soil biologist and project leader Pauline Mele to discuss how you can support and benefit from this research.

To find out more and RSVP contact: Ayesha Burdett on 0429 021 500 or by email:

Innovation Generation
Innovation generation header image

Celebrating its 13th year, Innovation Generation has been hosted in six states and territories across Australia and attracted more than 1800 young agricultural enthusiasts. This event will be at Mercure Ballarat Hotel and Convention Centre on July 22-24.

If you are 18-40 and working in the agriculture industry, Innovation Generation is the one conference you can’t afford to miss.

Bringing together award-winning speakers, innovators and industry professionals from across the sector, you will be inspired, challenged and will strengthen your network.

To register go to

Farm water reticulation workshops – East Grampians rural pipeline
Workshop locations and dates

Monday 12 August
9.30 am – 3.30pm

Ararat Pyrenees House, East Grampians Health service, Girdlestone Street, Ararat.

Wednesday 14 August
9.30am – 3.30pm
Tatyoon Hall, Tatyoon Road, Tatyoon.
Friday 16 August
9.30 am – 3.30 pm


A series of workshops will be run to assist farmers in planning and designing an on-farm water reticulation system at Ararat, Tatyoon and Willaura.

The topics to be covered include:
• East Grampians Rural Pipeline update
• Preparing a farm water supply plan
• Calculating your total water needs

A small aerial map of your property will be provided for planning activities during the workshop, so please provide your PIC number when you register.

Lunch and morning tea will be provided.

Please register by Monday 29 July, along with your PIC number, to: Clem Sturmfels, Agriculture Victoria, ph: 03 5355 0535, or Sarah Tottenham, GWMWater, ph: 03 5381 9610,

Fox bounty collection continues
Scheduled collections

Colac – 19–21 Rossmoyne Road, Colac, Tuesday 27 August, 1.30 – 3.30 pm.

Geelong – 16 Cadman Terrace, North Geelong, Tuesday 27 August, 9.30 –11.30 am.

Hamilton – Depot Hamilton Centre, Napier Rd, Hamilton, Wednesday 28 August, 1.30 – 3.30 pm.

Warrnambool – 703–711 Raglan Parade, Wednesday 28 August, 8.30 – 10.30 am.


The Victorian Government’s fox bounty has been running since 2011.

Agriculture Victoria is again collecting until the end of October, which is consistent with previous years.

Eligible participants can submit entire fox scalps for a $10 reward.

Upcoming fox bounty collections for the Barwon South West region are for foxes only.

For full details on bounty collection times and locations, terms and conditions, and frequently asked questions, visit the Agriculture Victoria web site or phone 136 186.

Grasslands Society of Southern Australia (GSSA) 2019 Annual Conference
Grassland conference banner

Registration is open, and the program is now available for the GSSA 60th Annual Conference. Book your place today!

More information is available at the GSSA website.

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Contacting Agriculture Victoria

Call 136 186 from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call (except for mobiles and public telephones).

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment
contact the National Relay Service on 133 677 or

A full list of our contact points can be found at:

Don't forget to check out Agriculture Victoria's social media sites for up-to-date information and news.


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Subscribe to the Agriculture Victoria YouTube channel. 


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