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Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 27 February, 2020
In this edition:
Shearer pleads guilty to abusing sheep

A 21-year-old shearer from Naracoorte, South Australia has received a 12-month adjourned undertaking and ordered to make a $1000 donation to the RSPCA after pleading guilty to two charges of animal cruelty in the Horsham Magistrates Court on Monday.

The shearer faced the court for animal cruelty charges relating to beating and abusing sheep in a Victorian shearing shed in December 2017.

The shearer conducted various acts of cruelty on sheep including stomping on sheep’s necks, striking sheep in the head with his shearing handpiece and punching sheep in the head.

In handing down the sentence the Magistrate said he took cases of animal cruelty very seriously.

“If you work with animals you have a responsibility, not just to your employer and not just to the production of wool, but to the animal you are working with.

“To do your job in a humane way that causes as little trauma to the animal as possible to fulfil your duty.”

The Magistrate noted that some time has passed since the offence had been committed and the defendant now had more experience and maturity and better understood his role.

Agriculture Victoria Animal Health and Welfare Compliance Manager Daniel Bode said all persons in charge of livestock, including people shearing sheep, have obligations for the care and overall welfare of the animal they are handling at any given time.

“It is an animal cruelty offence to beat or abuse an animal and this kind of behaviour is unacceptable,” Mr Bode said. 

“This case is a strong reminder that shearers need to exercise their duty of care to animals they are handling, and the mistreatment of animals will not be tolerated by the Victorian community.”

Reports of animal cruelty concerning commercial livestock should be made to Animal Health and Welfare staff at your local Agriculture Victoria office or contact 136 186 or

See us at the Field Days!

Farmers at this year’s Wimmera Machinery Field Days are encouraged to call into the Agriculture Victoria exhibit for all the latest information on grains research, land management practices and animal health.

The Agriculture Victoria team will also have copies of one of its newest publications ‘A guide for farmers in using seasonal forecasts in South Eastern Australia’. This booklet includes grower case studies, information about the key climate drivers, an explanation of wetter versus dryer climate patterns and the latest insights and tips. 

Information about animal health, crop diseases and innovative crop research occurring in the Wimmera Mallee will be on hand. Farmers interested in the forecast for the coming season should can also drop in to discuss what is ahead and the likely impacts in 2020.

Agriculture Victoria’s site will also include:

  • Animal health staff and meat and wool staff, available to help landholders update their Property Identification Codes, particularly their contact details which is critical in an emergency event
  • Grains land management scientists to discuss farmer issues and upcoming events in the Wimmera
  • Grains climate scientists with information on soil moisture levels and seasonal outlooks
  • Grains pathology staff who can discuss the 2020 crop variety disease ratings and disease management for the upcoming season
  • Biosecurity officers to identify and discuss problem weeds
  • Grains Innovation Park researchers who will display their activities in the Australian Grains Gene Bank, crop phenomics research and ‘Smart Farms’.

Agriculture Victoria will be in the Alan Heard Pavilion at the Field Days from March 3 to 5. For details go to:

Pre-lambing new predator control options

Agriculture Victoria’s BestWool/BestLamb network is hosting a predator management webinar/phone seminar next week with the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions featuring some of the newest control tools available.

Project Leader Sheep Industry Development Alison Desmond said the webinar/phone seminar would draw on the knowledge of National Wild Dog Management co-ordinator Greg Mifsud.

“Greg has extensive experience working with farmers and communities on collaborative approaches to the management of predators and dealing with the impact on business and community wellbeing,” Ms Desmond said.

The one-hour online webinar/phone seminar will be used to discuss collaborative approaches to dealing with predator management.

Participants can join in via an online portal or listen to the audio on their landline or mobile phones.

“Wild dog and fox management strategies are most successful when a cooperative management plan is developed between landowners and land managers, as these animals do not recognise fences or borders,” Ms Desmond said.

“It is an important first step to scope the target, developing a plan of action, practicing that action plan and evaluating the success of those actions,” she said.

The webinar will feature an overview of ox ecology, the impact of predators on lambing percentages and farm business, applying best practice baiting techniques on farm, the use of Canid Pest Ejectors (CPEs), working dog safety and smart phone apps.

The seminar is taking place on Thursday 5 March from 7.30 pm.

Participants can join the online portal or listen to the audio via their landline or mobile.

Please register for the event by visiting .

If you have trouble registering online or need more information contact Tess McDougall on or 0409 841 492.

New tool to aid stripe rust in-crop decision-making

DPIRD Principal Research Scientist Art Diggle, Agriculture Victoria Senior Research Scientist Grant Hollaway and GRDC Crop Protection Manager (South) Ruth Peek

Australian grain growers can now access a new tool to support in-crop decision making for the management of stripe rust in wheat.

The StripeRustWM tablet-based app was launched today at the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grains Research Update in Bendigo, Victoria.

StripeRustWM estimates potential losses using information including variety resistance rating, plant growth stage, fungicide history, presence of rust either within the crop or in the district, climatic conditions, expected yield and economics.

Developed in a collaboration led by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia (DPIRD), with contributions from Agriculture Victoria and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries and co-investment from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), the app is suitable for wheat growers across Australia.

Stripe rust, caused by a fungal pathogen, is a devastating disease of wheat. In Australia, the annual cost of yield loss caused by the disease is about $120 million, in addition to an estimated $150 million in chemical control.

In launching the app at the GRDC Grains Research Update, DPIRD principal research scientist Art Diggle said the app was designed for use during the growing season to assist crucial treatment decisions, using evidence-based information to estimate the likely returns from spraying for stripe rust for individual paddock scenarios.

“StripeRustWM is simple to use and easy to navigate, requiring the user to input individual paddock data, as well as expected weather conditions,” Dr Diggle said.

“A forecasting model is then used to generate the predicted return from a fungicide treatment, in dollars per hectare, highlighting the probability of a negative or positive return.

“The user can select from several alternative visual representation of the predicted results to suit themselves, including tables and graphs.”

The app compares expected yield, predicted loss to stripe rust and anticipated net return for the cases where fungicide is not applied, is applied once, or is applied twice.

Dr Diggle says StripeRustWM was developed using data and information from national pathology research projects over the past 30 years. The app also builds on the pioneering work by researcher Gordon Murray and his team in developing the RustMan decision support model in the 1990s.

The app will be updated annually with the latest research findings so that new information can be utilised by industry as soon as available.

StripeRustWM is available at no cost for iPads or Android tablets from the Apple App Store or Google Play by searching for StripeRustWM.

The app is a part of DPIRD and the GRDC’s collaborative Crop Management series, which also includes the BlacklegCM and SclerotiniaCM apps for canola disease management and the PowderyMildewMBM mungbean management app. The apps are designed to help identify the most effective and profitable disease management strategies for growers.

GRDC Manager Diseases, Friday Obanor, said the new app would assist growers in making informed and economically feasible decisions on managing stripe rust.

“StripeRustWM is designed for quick and easy use in the field, to guide profitable decisions about stripe rust management,” Dr Obanor said.

“It will certainly give growers and consultants more confidence in determining whether to invest in spraying for this disease.”

For more details about StripeRustWM and other disease management apps, search for ‘mobile app centre’ on

Reoffender pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

A dairy farmer from Cooma in northern Victoria was convicted of animal cruelty charges in the Shepparton’s Magistrates Court last week, for failing to appropriately care for his cows. The farmer was under a conditional disqualification order for five years from a previous conviction.

The dairy farmer pleaded guilty to one cruelty offence for an entire herd, a number of aggravated cruelty offences and one charge for failing to comply with a Notice under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.

The farmer was convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment for one month and 56 days. He was also fined $10,000 for failing to comply with the notice and a full disqualification order for owning farming animals for 10 years was imposed.

The farmer has appealed the sentence.

In handing down the sentence the Magistrate said it was a strange thing to understand why someone who earns their livelihood from animals would allow such a state. The untold misery of being starved to death is beyond comprehension.

Agriculture Victoria Animal Health and Welfare Compliance Manager Daniel Bode said the farmer had previously received a $50,000 fine and was under a conditional disqualification order for five years for similar offences occurring in 2016.

Mr Bode said throughout the period of offending, these cows continued to suffer and were not provided with appropriate nourishment or treatment, leaving no alternative for Agriculture Victoria officers to take action.

"Apart from the obvious pain and suffering of the animals, animal welfare breaches can jeopardise Victoria’s reputation on international livestock markets, which can affect all farmers,” Mr Bode said.

“This case serves as a powerful reminder that it is an offence for livestock owners to fail to provide for their livestock’s health and welfare.”

If farmers are grappling with management decisions or feed budgeting, assistance can be sought by contacting your local Agriculture Victoria office or our Customer Service Centre on 136 186.

Nurturing Victoria's native food industry

The Victorian State Government will partner with the Federation of Victoria Traditional Owner Corporations to support the development of a native food and botanicals industry in Victoria and support local jobs.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes this week launched the Djakitjuk Djanga program, which will offer Aboriginal Victorian-owned businesses and organisations grants of up to $200,000 to help establish or expand commercial native plant production.

Djakitjuk Djanga is a Dja Dja Wurrung term that means 'Country’s food'.

The program will help Victoria to capitalise on the strong interest in the use of Australian native plants like wattles, native greens, fruits and herbs in cooking, as well as the use of botanicals for cosmetics and personal care products.

However, with only a small number of Australia’s edible and botanical plants in commercial production, the industry remains in its early stages.

Funding under the Djakitjuk Djanga program can be used to hire staff, build technical expertise, or invest in stock, seeds and equipment.

The program will also promote the industry, support future research and help people involved in Native food production share their ideas with people interested in getting involved.

The program guidelines are now available, with applications open from Wednesday 4 March.

For more information, visit

Strategic summer drenching

By Dr Jeff Cave, District Veterinary Officer, Agriculture Victoria

The majority of producers understand the value in having a strategic summer drenching program in place, but I want to reiterate to sheep producers - the possible need for a second summer drench.

Drenching is expensive and time consuming therefore pre drench faecal egg counts (FECs) should always be considered, and this will put some science and evidence into whether or not to drench.

Strategic summer drenching involves an effective drench at the beginning and end of the season.

This is to take advantage of the destruction of worm larvae on pasture by heat and lack of moisture.

The life cycle of the worm involves both your pasture and the animal.

While the drench fixes the animal problem, the hot, dry conditions of summer will help eliminate the pasture problem.

Ineffective chemicals and/or an inadequate drench procedure can reduce the effectiveness of summer drenching.

Worm resistance, particularly to the white and clear drenches, is unnecessary overuse and the incorrect use of drenches just adds to the problem.

After drenching, producers should try to put sheep onto low risk pastures.

These may be paddocks previously grazed by cattle, cut for hay or silage or grazed by low risk sheep such as older wethers.

Ewes rearing lambs and the lambs particularly after weaning are the most susceptible sheep in terms of worm burdens.

Large reinfestation of worms can occur in as little as three weeks if your drenching program is ineffective.

For further advice contact your local veterinarian or Agriculture Victoria veterinary or animal health officer.

Breaking up with brome grass

Wimmera growers will have the chance to hear from a leading expert about managing brome grass during a series of forums being coordinated by Agriculture Victoria this March.

Plant Science Consulting’s Sam Kleemann will speak at Murtoa, Noradjuha and Dimboola, to help growers develop system-based tactics to tackle the weed.

Brome grass is the third biggest grass weed problem for grain growers in southeast Australia.

Agriculture Victoria Land Management Extension Officer, Heather Drendel, said that the level of grass weed infestation in Wimmera crops increased in 2019, with brome grass becoming more prevalent.

“It has been a challenge for growers,” she said.

“The weed is evolving to no-till farming and the dry seasons have exacerbated the problem.”

Ms Drendel said growers were adapting to a drying climate by sowing crops earlier, but this makes weed control a bigger challenge, as they rely more heavily on in-crop weed control.

Dr Kleemann will discuss how growers can reduce the seedbank of brome grass to manageable levels within three years by including break crops and different control tactics.

“Brome grass has developed increased seed dormancy in cropped paddocks,” he said.

“Seeds with greater dormancy can escape pre-sowing weed control tactics such as knockdown herbicides.”

Dr Kleemann said light can also inhibit brome grass seed germination.

“This allows seeds to remain ungerminated on the soil surface until after sowing and it prevents seedlings from being killed before sowing,” he said.

“This also helps explain why brome grass has proliferated in no-till cropping systems.”

Dr Kleemann’s research while working for Adelaide University, with support from the GRDC, showed it was possible to significantly reduce brome grass levels with combinations of pre and post-sowing herbicides and seed-set control tactics using certain crop rotations.

The Wimmera workshops will be presented by Agriculture Victoria and Wimmera Farming Network with support from Wimmera Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator and the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

The aim of the workshops, and the partner-based approach, is to increase awareness and adoption of land management practices that improve and protect the condition of the soil, biodiversity and vegetation in the Wimmera.

Workshops will be held at the following locations:

  • Murtoa & District Neighbourhood House, Monday 16 March, 4.30 to 7 pm, followed by light snacks
  • Noradjuha Memorial Hall, Tuesday 17 March, 8.30 to 11:30 am, morning tea included
  • Dimboola Rowing Clubrooms, Tuesday 17 March, 1 to 3:30 pm, lunch included.

To register or for more information, go to: or phone Heather Drendel, 0427 868 705.

Expressions of Interest: Rural Minds Training

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) can now deliver Rural Minds training to your community!

Rural Minds is a comprehensive program designed for people living and working in rural Australia by people living and working in rural Australia.

We are currently seeking expressions of interest for anyone who would like to attend a Rural Minds mental health and suicide prevention workshop.

Rural Minds training aims to:

  • Improve your awareness and understanding of mental health issues
  • Make the connection between mental health and personal safety
  • Give you the confidence, strategies and pathways to support your mental health and that of your family and friends.

Rural Minds Training options:

Rural Minds Community Workshop: This three to four-hour workshop combines practical, culturally relevant information about risk factors to mental health, signs and symptoms of mental health problems, advice about self-help and coping strategies where and how to seek support via local referral pathways.

Rural Minds Briefing: This one to two-hour workshop builds knowledge, understanding and confidence in participants about the prevention of mental illness and suicide. The briefing provides opportunities to identify and promote local pathways to support and clinical care.

A minimum of eight attendees are required to run these workshops in your community. Participants are required to pay a small fee of $15 to cover the costs of materials provided in the session.

If you are interested in attending/running one of these workshops in your community, please contact Molly Stilo at or call on (03) 8412 0430.

Young farmer business network

Young Farmers of Victoria – this is your network to talk about farm business management with other like-minded young farmers through social media, articles, online and face to face forums.

Click here to join and learn more about the Young Farmer Business Network Facebook group.

What's on
Wimmera Machinery Field Days - 3, 4 & 5 March

Agriculture Victoria will be exhibiting once again at the Wimmera Machinery Field Days.

For information on animal health, grains, biosecurity and much more find us in the Alan Heard Pavillion.

March 3 to 5 at Longerenong Events Centre.

Information at:

Best practice predator management webinar - 5 March

A 'Best Practice' predator management webinar will be held on Thursday, March 5 from 7.30 pm to 9 pm.

Topics covered:

  • Overview of fox and wild dog ecology
  • Impact of predators on lambing percentages and farm business
  • Applying best practice fox and wild dog baiting techniques on farm
  • Using Canid Pest Ejectors – the ‘new control tools on the block’
  • Working dog safety and baiting
  • Using PestSmart and Feral Scan applications for the management of vertebrate pests

To register click here or for more information about managing a livestock enterprise, call Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or visit the Agriculture Victoria website at

Urban/peri urban rabbit control field day - 11 March
Event Details

Date: Wednesday, 11 March

Time: 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm 

Grains Innovation Park,
110 Natimuk Road, Horsham


Horsham, Laharum, Warracknabeal, Natimuk and surrounding township residents are invited to a field day on rabbit control in urban and peri urban areas being run by Agriculture Victoria and the Horsham Rural City Landcare Group.

This field day will focus on;

  • Methods for best practice rabbit management
  • The identification of rabbit activity, burrows and harbor
  • Demonstrations and techniques on rabbit baiting and fumigation
  • Up to date information on rabbit populations from across the state.

Please register for catering purposes by going to

For more information or if you have problems registering contact James Rowe on (03) 53 366 694 or Wendy McInnes on 0407 914 498.

Brome grass management workshops – 16 and 17 March
Event details

Murtoa & District Neighbourhood House – Monday 16 March, 4.30 to 7 pm

Noradjuha Memorial Hall – Tuesday 17 March, 8.30 to 11:30 am

Dimboola Rowing Clubrooms – Tuesday 17 March – 1 to 3:30 pm


Wimmera growers will have the chance to hear from a leading expert about managing brome grass during a series of forums being coordinated by Agriculture Victoria this March.

Plant Science Consulting’s Sam Kleemann will speak at Murtoa, Noradjuha and Dimboola, to help growers develop system-based tactics to tackle the weed.


  • Identification of brome grass species
  • Brome grass resistance and management
  • Tillage system pre-emergent
  • Resistance testing
  • Q and A discussion.

To register or for more information, go to: or phone Heather Drendel, 0427 868 705.

NLIS database management workshops – 25 and 31 March
Local workshops

Ararat Shire Hall – 25 March, Barkly Street, Ararat

Grains Innovation Park, Horsham – 31 March, 110 Natimuk Road, Horsham


Topics include:

  • Setting up, navigating and using the NLIS database - practical exercise. Computers will be provided on the day or you can bring along your own laptop
  • Management of livestock movements onto your property
  • Property to Property (P2P) transfers on the NLIS database.
  • Sessions will run for up to 5-an-a-half hours, with light meal and refreshment provided.

Numbers are limited to allow for a hands-on practical session. please register early at

If you have any problems with registering online please call (03) 5761 1647.

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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

All contact points can be found at:

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