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Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday, 4 July 2019
In this edition
  • What are the risk factors of grass tetany?
  • Fit to load - updated national guide
  • 2019 Stonefrult Research Roadshow
  • New genetics hub demystifies breeding values
  • Fox and wild dog bounty in North East and Goulburn Broken​
  • What's on?
  • Save-the-date
What are the risk factors of grass tetany?

Dr Jeff Cave,
District Veterinary Officer, Wodonga

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.

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
  • 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. Cattle’s 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, or in NSW your Local Land Services.

Fit to load - updated national guide
Livestock ramp image

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 -

2019 Stonefruit Research Roadshow
Stonefruit image

Agriculture Victoria’s 2019 Stonefruit Research Roadshow will be held in the Riverland, Sunraysia and Goulburn-Murray regions across a series of events in August.

Agriculture Victoria Senior Research Scientist Dr Mark O'Connell said the roadshow is an opportunity to meet with growers and industry to discuss the latest results from Agriculture Victoria’s Profitable Stonefruit Research Program undertaken at Tatura and at AgriBio.

“These roadshows have been held annually since 2016 and previous participants have confirmed they want to know more about how to best manage their orchards for high-quality fruit that meets the preferences of consumers,” Dr O’Connell said.

“One of our key presenters, Christine Frisina, is completing her PhD on harvest maturity impacting fruit quality and will report her interesting findings.”

This year's roadshow presenters and topics include:

  • Industry updates - Trevor Ranford, Summerfruit Australia CEO
  • Harvest maturity impacting fruit quality - Christine Frisina, Agriculture Victoria
  • Irrigation management impacts on fruit quality - Dr Mark O'Connell, Agriculture Victoria
  • Observations from monitoring export fruit: sea freight and air freight - Glenn Hale, Agriculture Victoria
  • Stonefruit cultivar performance during export and predicting shelf life – Dr John Lopresti, Agriculture Victoria
  • New fruit quality monitoring technology - Dr Dario Stefanelli, Agriculture Victoria
  • Profitable Stonefruit e-newsletter, plus new website features - Mark Hincksman, Agriculture Victoria.

Visit the 2019 Stonefruit Research Roadshow at:

  • Renmark at 7pm, Tuesday 13 August, Renmark Hotel, Murray Avenue, Renmark, SA
  • Swan Hill at 7pm, Wednesday 14 August, Murray Downs Golf and Country Club, Murray Downs Drive, Murray Downs, NSW
  • Cobram at 7pm, Thursday 15 August, Grand Central Hotel, 36 Punt Road.

For more information please contact Mark Hincksman on 0437 254 913 or

Young farmers of Victoria, this is your network!
YFBN image

The Young Farmer Business Network will connect you with accessible business management–related information, events of interest and information on Victorian young farmer groups.

It also signposts opportunities to apply for awards, grants and scholarships and/or to participate in other forms of learning.

The Young Farmer Business Bootcamps are in development across Victoria once again and details can be found on the Network.

Access the Young Farmer Business Network at:

New genetics hub demystifies breeding values

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.

Fox and wild dog bounty in North East and Goulburn Broken
Fox image

The Victorian Government’s fox and wild dog bounty has resumed and will continue in the North-East and Goulburn Broken regions until October.

Eligible participants can submit entire fox scalps for a $10 reward during scheduled collection times.

North East and Goulburn Broken Victoria

Tatura (Fox only) – 255 Ferguson Road, Tatura
Monday 22 July, 11.30 – 1.30pm

Wodonga (Fox and wild dog) – 14 Moorefield Park Drive, Wodonga Tuesday 23 July, 9 – 11am

Ovens (Fox and wild dog) 5338 Great Alpine Road, Ovens
Tuesday 23 July, 1.30 – 3.30pm

Benalla (Fox only) – 89 Sydney Road, Benalla
Wednesday 24 July, 10am – 12 noon

Mansfield (Fox and wild dog) 128 Highett Street, Mansfield
Wednesday 24 July, 2 – 4pm

Broadford (Fox only) – 5 Mollinson Street, Broadford
Thursday 25 July, 10.30am – 12.30pm

For full details on bounty collection go to the Agriculture Victoria website,, or call the Customer Service Centre on 136 186.

FREE sheep faecal egg count tests

Sheep producers are being urged to submit worm samples for an AWI research trial to validate a more sensitive worm test.

They are asked to collect dung samples from a mob of wormy sheep on the day of drenching, then again 14 days after the drench.

Producers who submit worm samples will receive the results from the traditional faecal egg count (FEC) test for free, saving them hundreds of dollars.

For more information contact or call (02) 4655 6464.

On-farm emergency water infrastructure rebate scheme

The On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme is now available for the purchase and installation of emergency water infrastructure for livestock.

The scheme is available to eligible farm businesses in the following local government areas: Benalla,Campaspe, East Gippsland, Gannawarra, Greater Bendigo, Greater Shepparton, Loddon, Moira, Strathbogie, Swan Hill, Wellington, Northern Grampians, Mildura, Wodonga, Alpine, Hindmarsh, Yarriambiack, Towong, Buloke, Horsham, and Indigo.

Farm businesses outside of the above local government areas can make an application if they can demonstrate a critical water need for livestock resulting from current seasonal conditions. These applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The scheme is available for water infrastructure purchased since 1 July 2018 – guidelines and application details can be obtained from Rural Finance, call 1800 260 425 or visit

Energy grants for agriculture - apply now

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

Apply early so you don’t miss out.

Grants will be provided on a ‘dollar-for-dollar’ cash co-contribution basis, and recipients are required to contribute at least 50 per cent of the total cash costs of the project.

Grants are available to eligible farm businesses for projects that achieve energy efficiency or provide the business with energy productivity improvements to support longer-term sustainability.

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).

Apply for an on-farm energy assessment or an on-farm energy grant online at

Look Over the Farm Gate grants
Over the gate tile

Farmers and communities facing drought and dry conditions across northern and north west Victoria should apply now for funding under the Look Over the Farm Gate Program.

Look Over the Farm Gate events are an opportunity for farmers to take a break from the farm, reconnect with their community, access professional support and participate in mental health training.

You know what your community needs, so we encourage community groups to think creatively about what single event or series of events would be most effective.

It could be anything from a barbeque and comedy night, regular fitness meet-ups in the park, or a family movie night.

Look Over the Farm Gate is a mental health and wellbeing initiative funded by the Victorian Government and managed by the Victorian Farmers Federation in partnership with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Country Women’s Association, Country Fire Authority, and National Centre for Farmer Health.

Applications are still being accepted for events and are assessed on a first in best dressed basis.

For more information about eligibility and how to apply, visit the website at

What's on?
Pasture management workshop at Cudgewa

Agriculture Victoria is running a series of one-day workshops, with one workshop left to run at Cudgewa, to assist farmers to balance the needs of pasture and livestock for good grazing management.

Good grazing management is all about optimising conversion of pastures into livestock products at the least cost, while protecting the pasture base and soil. 

This workshop will provide producers with the skills and tools to allow them to make better decisions about seasonal management of pastures and stock, to improve productivity and manage risk.

The workshop will have a whole farm focus and topics include:

  • The principles of grazing management and balancing the needs of pasture and livestock
  • The effects of different grazing systems on pasture growth, composition, persistence ground cover and livestock performance
  • Manipulating pasture composition with grazing
  • Management of specific species (e.g. native grasses, lucerne, phalaris, annuals) relevant to the region
  • Simple tools and benchmarks to help you plan and manage your grazing system.

Workshop will be held at:

Cudgewa – Tuesday 9 July (RSVP 6 July), Cudgewa Football Clubrooms, Cudgewa - Tintaldra Rd, Cudgewa, register at

Please bring a sample of good and bad pasture from your property for discussion.

Registration is essential, and catering is provided. If you are unable to register online, please contact Erica Schelfhorst on 0429 807 698 or

For the latest information about all assistance and information available visit

Pasture drought recovery workshops in north east

TAFCO is to hold a series of two-day workshops to assist regional farmers manage pastures in drought.

Soil health scientist Cath Botta and agronomists Sue Briggs and Mark Palmer will be presenting at the two-day workshops.

Day one will include a visit to a nearby farm and an inspection of a soil pit, (subject to weather), hands on pH testing of your property's soil, developing a soil sampling plan for your business, and how to establish a paddock renovation plan including how to select the right pasture for the right situation.

If you want to participate in the pH testing, please bring along two buckets of soil, one from your best performing paddock and the other from your worst performing paddock.

Day two will consist of soil test interpretation based on your own properties soil analysis, ground cover and pasture management including species selection and grazing management to achieve persistence and maximize utilisable dry matter.

Cost is $20 per property and includes soil pH testing, a minimum of one free soil sample and one tissue sample per property, and lunch on both days.

Where and when

  • Running Creek, Monday 15 July and 19 August at St. Albans Hall, 5456 Kiewa Valley Highway, 9am-4pm
  • Cheshunt, Tuesday 16 July and 20 August at The Oven, 451 King Valley Road, 9am-4pm
  • Whorouly, Monday 22 July and 21 August, REMEL 185, 399 Whorouly Road, 9am-4pm

Participants may nominate to attend any of the second round of workshops.

These workshops are supported by Agriculture Victoria and Farming and Community Group Drought Funding Program.

To register, please contact TAFCO on 5752 1800 or to book your place.

Innovation Generation
Innovation Generation 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 to 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

Conference to explore immersive technology in agriculture

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.

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.

MLA General Manager – MDC, Research, Development and Innovation, Sean Starling, said with mixed reality predicted to be the next disruptive technology and as common as smartphones in five to 10 years, it was critical all sectors of Australian agriculture explored its potential.

“Although Australian agriculture is lagging with the deployment of this evolving technology, its sectors can look towards other industries that have implemented it in operations to see how they’re using it now and envisioning its future applications,” Mr Starling said.

“The conference will have a combination of presentations from end users of the technology, most from outside of agriculture, and an immersive trade show.

“The program will enable solution providers to demonstrate what is possible today and what might be possible in the future.

“It will culminate with a working session to solicit ideas from the audience on how mixed reality solutions can apply now to our agricultural supply chains and into the future.”

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 (making choices easier)
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.

Registration – Tickets to the conference are $100 and registration is essential.  For more information and to register, visit

Grey box grassy woodlands wander

Join Paul Foreman, a field botanist and ecologist, on this visit around the significant grassy woodland sites of Murchison on Tuesday 10 September at 9:30 am.

Meeting place: Murchison Golf Club

A light lunch will be provided on the day.

Please bring sturdy walking shoes, a drink, hat and writing materials.

To register your interest please contact Carolena on 0408 618 204 or


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