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Gippsland Ag News
Thursday, 25 June 2020
In this edition:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update
purple writing of staying at home if we are sick

The Victorian Government is gradually easing restrictions currently in place to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

In all activities, farmers are asked to be considered. Be cautious. Use your common sense. And if you don’t have to do it – don’t.

Stay safe by maintaining good hygiene, keeping your distance from others and if you feel unwell stay home.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should get tested.

The situation continues to change rapidly and we urge you to regularly check the Department of Health and Human Services website for the latest update:

More information is also available on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Latest news
Old and new tricks for practical risk management
man in paddock surrounded by sheep

Mixed farmers can hear about old and new tricks to manage risks during a Smart Farming webinar, hosted by Agriculture Victoria, next Monday 29 June.

Whether it’s fire, flood, drought or unseasonal conditions, the webinar will help mixed farmers improve their ability to identify, understand and manage risks.

Presenter Dr Kate Burke will discuss strategies farmers can use to help them focus their decision-making and how they can go about assessing risk in terms of ‘actual versus perceived’, likelihood and consequence.

Dr Burke will also provide effective strategies to manage risk, including what high-performing farmers and business managers do well.

Agriculture Victoria Land Management Extension Officer Martin Hamilton said risk management boiled down to farmers having the right “tricks” on hand to make critical decisions.

“As we’ll show in the webinar, seeing how others have handled risk well is a practical way of developing your own skills.”

Mr Hamilton said Dr Burke is a highly experienced independent farm consultant with extensive experience in agronomy.

“Dr Burke spent time in the corporate sector as a commercial manager of one of the largest grain producers in Australia and knows what it takes to run a profitable farm business,” he said.

Dr Burke has 30 years of experience in agriculture working with farmers, students, investors and regional communities in north west and northern Victoria.

The session will be recorded and made available for those who register.

Registrations (via Zoom) can be made here

For more information and to register, contact Martin Hamilton on 0429 946 149 or or Adam Buzza on 0447 525 457 or

Fox bounty open again

Designated fox and wild dog bounty collection centres will open from 29 June, operating in line with physical distancing requirements including established drop off and exclusion zones.

During the suspension period, bounty participants were encouraged to continue to collect fox scalps and wild dog body parts on private properties as part of pest control activities, and to freeze or air dry them.

Hunters are encouraged to refresh their knowledge of the terms and conditions of the bounty to ensure what they submit is acceptable. Participants can submit entire fox scalps for a $10 reward and entire wild dog body parts for a $120 reward during scheduled collection times.

For more information about collection schedules visit

Feedpads and winter management webinar
tractor and cows in a green paddock

With the wet conditions persisting in Gippsland it is more important than ever to protect pasture and animals to ensure long-term damage isn't created. 

Agriculture Victoria and GippsDairy are running a free webinar on topics such as best practice soil and pasture management, animal health and concerns, managing feed wastage and planning a feeding area or feedpad.


GippsDairy Regional Extension Officer Karen Romano will talk on the best methods to reduce impacts.

Agriculture Victoria Dairy and Livestock Specialist Scott McDonald will present the five-step approach to developing profitable feeding systems.

Date: 1 July

Time: 12 - 1.30 pm


Link to attend:;#success

Gippsland virtual drought drop-in
Gippsland virtual drought drop in
Targeted drought resilience support goes digital

The Victorian Government is continuing to support farmers impacted by drought and dry seasonal conditions with funding and support programs that have moved online so they are accessible by more people.

The Business Planning and Management Support for Farmers program is part of the Government’s $31 million support package for areas affected by drought and dry conditions announced last October.

The shift to making support available online acknowledges the challenges that farmers are facing as they deal with drought, bushfires and coronavirus (COVID-19). As part of the program, lessons in computer literacy are being offered to ensure everyone who wants to access support can take part.

Other initiatives being delivered to farmers across the Millewa region, Goulburn Murray Irrigation District and East Gippsland include computer literacy, to improve confidence and decision-making skills and online financial literacy workshops.

Farmers can also access other programs offered online by Agriculture Victoria such as learning modules on soil and irrigation management, and a water calculator to help make important decisions on water requirements.

The Government is also continuing to refine drought support to ensure it targets those most in need.

Farms and related small businesses in affected areas can access free and independent financial counselling from the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS), with $640,000 allocated from the program to provide small business financial counsellors in each of the North West, North East, Gippsland and South West regions.

Funding to the RFCS has also been made available to support farm recovery efforts, including $80,000 for Gippsland, $640,000 for the North East and $400,000 for the North West service.

The Dedicated Dairy Support Program has also been extended for another year with $320,000 to help farmers in Northern Victoria scale up, scale back or transition out of the industry.

Meanwhile, the Catchment Management Authority Drought Employment program in the Millewa and the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District has been extended until September thanks to $500,000 in funding.

For more information about drought and dry seasonal conditions support and practical advice, visit

Improving farmer digital literacy in challenging times
graphic of a phone tower

Agriculture Victoria is supporting farmers to improve their digital literacy with a technology audit and digital webinar series.

The audit will help farmers understand the technology they currently have on the farm and how to build on these to assist decision making during challenging times such as drought and dry seasonal conditions.

Free digital literacy webinars will also help farmers to better understand the range of available connectivity, the Internet of Things, and how social and professional networks offer support to farmers in different ways.

The audit and webinar series are part of the 2019-20 Drought Support Package, with input from Horticulture Industry Technology Coordinator Andy Clark.

“Farmers make important decisions every day - choosing and using technology is one of them,” Andy said.

“Understanding exactly what technology and connectivity they already have on farm and where the gaps are is crucial when it comes to knowing how improvements can be made.

It will also help avoid unnecessary or duplicated expenses.”  Andy said the digital technology audit and webinars are designed to work together.

“The two will give farmers the confidence to connect digitally, use the technology they already have more efficiently and ensure they have access to information to assist decision making.”

The free 30-minute audit will be conducted by phone. Sessions can be booked starting in late June. 

Farmers will be asked to identify what type of internet connectivity they have, whether they have access to wi-fi and how they use technology on their farm.

Participants will be provided with questions in advance so they can collect the information needed to complete the audit. The results will be collated into a report for each farmer and will include a map of their property identifying key technologies which can be used as a guide for adding new technology. 

To register for the audit contact Andy Clark on 0436 804 656 or book a time at

The free digital literacy webinar series will be offered in July, each session will be held 1.30 - 2.30 pm.

If you need help registering please contact Gavin Beever, Cumbre Consultants on 0438 234 886.

Preference will be given to participants from Central and East Gippsland, the GMID and the Millewa region of North-West Victoria.

Theileriosis in cattle in Victoria webinar

Join Agriculture Victoria for an update on Theileriosis in cattle including its cause, incidence, management and recent research.

Theileriosis is caused by the Theileria parasite infecting blood cells of cattle leading to anaemia. The parasite is spread by blood-sucking arthropod insects, such as ticks, which may infest cattle.

Theileriosis can affect cattle of all ages, with heavily pregnant, lactating, and stressed cows tending to be at greatest risk, sometimes leading to death, due to reduced immunity.


District Veterinary Officers, Drs John Ryan and Jeff Cave, will present from an on-farm perspective and practical experiences.

Prof. Grant Rawlin, Research Leader, Veterinary Pathobiology will report on recent research findings.

This event will provide up to date information on Theileriosis for farmers and animal health advisors to assist their understanding of the disease, potential impacts and recent research.

Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions at the conclusion of the presentations.


DATE: Tuesday June 30

TIME: 7:30 to 8:45 pm

VENUE: Online

Click the link to register:
Details for joining the session will be provided via email after registering.

A recording of this event will be available afterwards.

PhD fellowships in the dairy industry – apply now

In partnership with the University of Melbourne, Agriculture Victoria is offering 17 PhD research fellowships in the dairy industry.

Based at our world-renowned research centres at Ellinbank and Hamilton, successful applicants will be rewarded with a $33,000 per annum scholarship, access to state-of-the-art facilities and opportunities for professional development and overseas travel.

To find out more visit

Targets for maternals

Dr Ralph Behrendt, Agriculture Victoria, Hamilton

Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) has been successful in promoting the management requirements of Merino ewes and the implications of not meeting identified targets.

Producers who have adopted LTEM practices have increased stocking rates and lamb marking percentages, and decreased ewe mortality.

Although some of these changes have also been implemented on farms with crossbred and maternal composite ewes, guidelines developed for Merino ewes with a focus on wool production may not be optimal for prime lamb production and maternal composite ewes.

This article outlines the results from a series of experiments that have been used to develop guidelines for crossbred ewes used for prime lamb production, such as first cross and maternal composite ewes.

Condition score and feed requirements of maternal composites

Field experiments on four sites across southern Australia using 6000 pregnant ewes were conducted in 2014 and 2015.

These experiments investigated the impact of different CS during mid- to late pregnancy on maternal composite ewes, and the impact of different levels of FOO at lambing and during lactation.

The results showed there were predictable impacts of manipulating ewe liveweight or CS during pregnancy on the birthweight of single and twin lambs.

Low ewe CS at lambing had a negative impact on birthweight and weaning weight, resulting in lower carcase weight at slaughter. The mating weight of ewe lambs and carryover reproduction of the ewe were also negatively affected.

Lower ewe CS (2.5 – 2.7) at lambing had little effect on survival of single lambs, but CS greater than 3.5 had negative effects due to increased incidence of dystocia.

Improving CS during pregnancy and at lambing increased twin lamb survival to marking, from 78 per cent to close to 90 per cent when ewe flocks achieved an average CS of 3.2 – 3.5 at lambing.

Having high levels of FOO at lambing and during lactation did not completely offset the negative impacts of poor nutrition during pregnancy on birthweight and weaning weight.

These experiments also showed that the maternal composite ewes were gaining weight during pregnancy at lower FOO levels than expected. These results raised questions about whether maternal composite ewes were more feed-efficient or just eating more.

Bigger eaters or more efficient?

Follow up indoor feeding experiments then investigated the maintenance energy requirements and energy efficiency of maternal composite sheep. The feed intake of crossbred ewes grazing at different levels of FOO was also investigated.

These experiments showed that crossbred ewes had higher feed intake than expected at different levels of FOO under grazing, compared with the current feeding standards for sheep.

The indoor feeding experiments showed that the ewes also had higher potential feed intake than predicted, based on their size and CS.

In addition, these indoor experiments showed that the energy contained in their tissues also varied from the estimates used in the current standards to calculate nutritional requirements. This was most likely due to differences in body composition (fat and muscle).

New CS targets for maternal composites

These results were then used to update feed budgeting models and production responses within a whole-farm MIDAS* model to predict the optimum CS targets for different regions.

Optimum CS targets for a typical farm in the Hamilton region were determined for a prime lamb producing enterprise that purchased all replacement ewes. Three different times of lambing were evaluated for this farm using the whole-farm model (See Table 1).

Table 1. Optimum condition score (CS) for composite or crossbred ewes at joining, day 90 and lambing for each lambing date, if the flock is scanned for multiples, on a typical farm at Hamilton

While these targets have been developed for Hamilton, they are unlikely to differ for other areas, especially the targets at lambing.

The optimum target for CS at joining may vary slightly based on time of lambing and the cost-effectiveness of feeding ewes to reach CS targets. For earlier lambing, the optimum CS at joining at the end of spring is the level that the ewes reach without supplementary feeding.

However, the highest CS attained at the end of spring needs to be managed so that the target lambing CS can be achieved without excessive liveweight loss during early and late pregnancy.

For later lambing, liveweight loss from the peak highest CS at the end of spring is managed with supplementary feeding to achieve the joining CS that allows the lambing target to be achieved without excessive liveweight loss.

The optimum target is to join ewes at CS 3.8 – 4.1 and to lose body condition (up to 1 CS) during pregnancy, resulting in lambing at CS 3.0 – 3.1 for single-bearing ewes and CS 3.4 – 3.7 for multiple-bearing ewes (see Table 1 for CS targets at Hamilton).

The difference from the recommendations for Merino ewes is that the optimum CS in high-rainfall environments for unscanned Merino spring lambing ewes is to join and lamb at CS 3. Where ewes are pregnancy scanned and separately managed based on single or twin status the target at lambing is CS 3.3 for twinning ewes.

The higher CS at joining for maternal composites is driven by the higher CS at lambing and recovery of CS after lambing to reach higher CS at the end of the growing season, which will also support higher subsequent conception rates.

To achieve these CS targets, the challenge is to manage for gradual weight loss over summer, autumn and early winter when feed quality and quantity are usually limiting.

The difference in optimum guidelines for multiple- and single-bearing ewes reinforces the value of pregnancy scanning and managing ewes to their nutritional needs and targets.

Single-bearing ewes need to lose 0.7 – 1 CS between joining and lambing to minimise dystocia and can lose weight in both early and late pregnancy.

Multiple-bearing ewes can lose some weight in early pregnancy but must then maintain weight or have only a small, slow weight loss in late pregnancy.

This research was supported by Agriculture Victoria, Meat & Livestock Australia, the South Australian Research and Development Institute, Rural Industries Skills Training and Murdoch University.

*MIDAS Model of an Integrated Dryland Agricultural System

Seasonal climate update webinars for winter
map of Victoria showing rain

Agriculture Victoria’s seasonal climate update webinars for winter kicked off this week with a thorough look at the next few months ahead for the state’s grains industry.

The one-hour webinars, in partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), are available to farmers in four states and are particularly relevant to those currently nursing crops through the growing season.

Agriculture Victoria seasonal risk agronomist Dale Grey said his outlook presentations relied on the latest data from model projections for the key climate drivers as well as the oceanic, atmospheric and soil moisture conditions.

“Those joining a live webinar will be able to ask questions, but if you can’t make it on the day there’ll be a recording available that you can watch at a time that better suits,” Mr Grey said.

The link to the Victorian webinar recording (completed on Tuesday 23 June at 12 noon) can be found here

“At this stage of the season the majority of the world’s 12 weather models are ‘sitting on the fence’ when it comes to rainfall in the next three months, although three of them are signalling ‘wetter’ for most parts of Victoria,” Mr Grey said.

“Four of the 12 models are suggesting drier in the state’s South-West region, while all are split in terms of the possibility of a La Niña this year,” he said.

More information about the winter webinars, or other Agriculture Victoria climate information can be found at:

Primary producers bushfire support programs
Back to business – one-to-one support for fire-affected producers

Producers in fire-affected regions can access up to three free one-on-one Back to Business sessions with a local farm management consultant to help put their business back on track.

All red-meat producers, including sheep, cattle and goat, who have been affected by the recent bushfires are eligible to apply.

The Back to Business program in Victoria is being coordinated by Agriculture Victoria. For more information or to register, contact:

Online registration is also available here.

For more info visit

Small Business Bushfire Support Grant

Grants of up to $10,000 are available to support small businesses (including primary producers) significantly affected by the 2019–20 bushfires to recover and rebuild resilient businesses.

Eligible activities include meeting standard business costs, seeking financial advice, adjusting the business to be viable in the changed local context following bushfire and improvements to make the business more resilient to future disasters.

The grants are available to eligible small businesses in the local government areas of East Gippsland, Towong and Alpine who have suffered a decline in revenue of 40 per cent or more in a relevant three-month period.

Businesses can apply for this grant in addition to other bushfire grants. For more information contact Rural Finance 1800 260 425 or

Victorian Bushfires Concessional Loans

Concessional loans of up to $500,000 are available to support small business, primary producers and non-profit organisations impacted by the Victorian bushfires that began on 21 November 2019.

The loans are for restoring and/or replacing damaged assets and/or to meet working capital expenses.

They are available for eligible wine grape growers in Ararat, Alpine, Ballarat, East Gippsland, Glenelg, Golden Plains, Greater Bendigo, Indigo, Mansfield, Moyne, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, Southern Grampians, Strathbogie, Towong, Wangaratta, Wellington and Wodonga.

For further information contact Rural Finance 1800 260 425 or

Emergency Bushfire Response in Primary Industries Grants

Grants of up to $75,000 to assist primary producers directly affected by the 2019–2020 bushfire with recovery costs. Eligible activities include rebuilding or replacing damaged or destroyed on-farm infrastructure, including fencing and trellises.

Wine grape growers who are located in eligible fire affected local government areas and have had crops affected by smoke taint may be able to claim for costs associated with the salvage, harvest and disposal of the smoke taint affected crops. Where no fire has occurred on the property, evidence of smoke impact, such as smoke taint testing results are required.

Available in eligible fire affected local government areas across Victoria. In the areas of Ararat, Alpine, Ballarat, East Gippsland, Glenelg, Golden Plains, Greater Bendigo, Indigo, Mansfield, Moyne, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, Southern Grampians, Strathbogie, Towong, Wangaratta, Wellington and Wodonga, and the alpine areas of Falls Creek, Mount Buller, Mount Hotham and Mount Stirling.

For further information contact Rural Finance 1800 260 425 or

Drought and dry seasons support services and information
Domestic and stock bore license fee waiver

The Victorian Government is waiving the $235 application fee for new domestic and stock bore construction licences (BCL) for landholders in eligible areas of Victoria.

This initiative will help landholders secure their domestic and stock water supply needs in areas experiencing drought and dry conditions.

Apply online at the Victorian Water Register

CWA of Victoria’s Drought Relief Program

The CWA of Victoria’s Drought Relief program has been provided a funding boost by the Victorian Government for the provision of household financial relief

The program can provide up to $3000 to eligible farming families, farm workers and farm dependent contractors to reimburse them for household expenses like school costs, utilities, food and medical bills.

For more about the program and other available drought support visit or call 136 186.

For anyone seeking a copy of the application form or requiring assistance to complete the application, please contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or email the CWA on

Drought employment program

The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority received funding for the Drought Employment Program from the Victorian Government last October.

The program provides off-farm employment training for farmers, farm workers and individuals affected by drought and dry seasonal conditions to expand or obtain transferable employment skills.

For further information:

Phone East Gippsland CMA on (03) 5152 0600


Visit Gippsland drought employment

On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants program expanded

The maximum value of the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants has increased from $5,000 to $10,000 to boost farmers’ access to professional services whilst still enabling farmers to invest in drought preparedness infrastructure.

Eligible farm businesses can now apply for:

  • up to $5000 for business decision making activities (with no-contribution required)
  • up to $5000 for infrastructure investments (with at least 50 per cent co-contribution required).

There are three new eligible infrastructure investments under the resilience grants:

  • technologies to improve mobile phone connectivity
  • weed control (e.g. purchase of registered herbicide)
  • soil moisture probes (as an explicit investment under soil moisture monitoring activities).

Farmers in drought-affected areas of East Gippsland and Wellington shires also impacted by the bushfires can reapply for the grant where previously funded investments through the On-Farm Drought Infrastructure Support Grants, Pasture Recovery and Management Grants or the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants were destroyed or damaged.

For more information and to access the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grants program, call Rural Finance on 1800 260 425 or visit

Farmers are encouraged to apply early to ensure they do not miss out on funding.

Upcoming webinars
African Swine Fever webinars – are you ASF ready?

A series of free webinars for pig producers to help them be informed and prepared for African Swine Fever (ASF).

To register, follow the link:

Webinar 3: ASF in Australia


Tuesday 30 June
2 – 3 pm

Register here



  • Dr Regina Fogarty from Agriculture Victoria – Outbreak, preparedness and response

Free for producers. For more information contact

Farm Business Resilience Webinar Series

Agriculture Victoria is delivering a series of four webinars to improve farm business resilience, hosted by ORM managing consultant Matt McCarthy. Farmers and farm business managers should register for the webinars to identify how to safeguard their core business operations when unexpected situations occur.

Register for each of the webinars below to attend or receive a link of the recorded event.

Webinar 3: Your Resources

Thursday 2 July
1.30 pm

Register here


In this webinar, participants will be shown how to identify critical workflows, exposures and vulnerabilities, set priorities and access potential impacts using a risk matrix.

Webinar 4: Your Plan

Thursday 16 July
1.30 pm

Register here


In this webinar, an expert panel from across agriculture will discuss how farmers have successfully built business resilience over the last decade, where are the main gaps, and how can farms build resilience into the future.

Ellinbank Seminar Series 2020
The Biosecurity Plan Builder


Wednesday 1 July

12.30 pm

Register here



  • Dr Maria Rose, Dairy Extension Officer, Biosecurity and Agriculture Services, Maffra –The Biosecurity Plan Builder: promoting uptake of biosecurity planning amongst Victorian dairy farmers

In her presentation, Dr. Rose will cover the rationale behind the Biosecurity Plan Builder tool and how it differs from other biosecurity templates for managing animal disease risks. She will also give an update on the roll out of the tool (to date and future plans) to encourage its uptake by farmers. Her presentation will also include stepping through the tool online and highlighting its features including some tips and tricks to get the most out of using it.

Multi-species forages as alternatives to perennial ryegrass


Wednesday 15 July
12.30 pm

Register here



  • Dr Anna Thomson, Research Scientist, Animal Production Sciences, Ellinbank – Multi-species forages as alternatives to perennial ryegrass: Beyond white clover!

Grassland is a crucial resource for the ruminant livestock industries within the agricultural sector. In most temperate regions globally, this land is predominantly sown with ryegrass: a high yielding species that can provide good quality forage but is reliant upon the application of sufficient nitrogen fertiliser, and susceptible to drought. Nitrogen fertiliser is expensive and has a high carbon and nitrogen footprint. Therefore, multiple research projects in recent years have investigated the replacement of monoculture pastures with mixed-species leys. Their aim has been to achieve acceptable yields of good quality forage for livestock production whilst having a positive and long term impact on the environment.

In this webinar, Anna Thomson, who previously worked at the University of Reading (UK) before joining the Ellinbank team, will discuss her previous research into mixed-species pastures as part of a collaborative 5-year study: ‘The DiverseForage Project’ and also summarise the findings of other notable European studies on this subject matter.

Climate webinars
DELWP Climate Science Webinar
Webinar 2 (and final): Victorian Climate Projections 2019 – findings and tips for interpreting


Friday 26 June
1 – 2 pm

Join via this link on the day


Topics include:

  • What do the projections say for Victoria?
  • What are the benefits of local-scale climate data?
  • How to understand and work with the different sources of uncertainty in projections
  • Top tips to interpret the projections correctly
  • Lots of time for Q&A with DELWP and CSIRO scientists
Dairy farming energy efficiency grants

The Energy Efficient Communities Program - Dairy Farming Business Grants will provide grants to help dairy farming businesses save energy and lower bills by:

  • replacing existing equipment with higher efficiency equipment
  • installing or replacing component/s to help an existing system run more efficiently
  • carrying out on-farm energy audits
  • carrying out monitoring of energy usage and emissions.

Dairy farming businesses can apply for a grant of up to $20,000 with no co-contribution required.

Please note, applications close on 17 August 2020.

Find out more at

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