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Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 1 February 2024
In this edition:
Current conditions enhance risk of pinkeye outbreak

Dr Jeff Cave, Agriculture Victoria Senior Veterinary Officer

Livestock producers need to keep informed and anticipate animal health issues before they arise.

One condition to be on the lookout for with the current summer conditions is the risk of a pinkeye outbreak.

Pinkeye (Infectious keratoconjunctivitis) is a highly contagious, painful and debilitating disease that can severely affect animal productivity.

With low stocking rates and abundant spring growth some properties have plenty of long grass, and recent rain events have increased fly populations, both these factors increasing the spread of pinkeye.

The summer season brings increased sunlight and dust, which can make the eye more vulnerable to the disease.

Pinkeye usually occurs in young cattle in their first summer.

After this initial infection, cattle develop immunity to the disease but may remain carriers of the bacteria, Moraxella bovis, which potentially can lead to future outbreaks in following years.

The clinical signs of pinkeye include clear and watery tears, signs of irritation, an aversion to sunlight, reddening and swelling of the eyelids and cloudiness of the eye.

In a small percentage of cases, an affected eye may form an abscess and rupture, leading to permanent blindness.

While most affected eyes completely recover after 3 to 5 weeks, a number may be left with scarring on the surface.

Pinkeye can be treated with antibiotic ointments, sprays, injections and patches or a combination of these treatments.

Extra care should be taken when mustering cattle for the purposes of treatment for pinkeye, as factors such as dust and flies may enhance the spread of the disease.

There is also a vaccine available that helps give immunity against 3 of the strains of Moraxella bovis.

Other control measures include controlling fly numbers to limit the spread of bacteria from animal to animal, prompt segregation and treatment in affected stock, and avoiding unnecessary yarding of cattle during periods where the risk of outbreak is higher.

Attention should also be taken not to confuse pinkeye with other eye conditions, such as a grass seed in the eye, eye cancer and other eye infections.

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

Have your say on Victoria’s new animal protection laws
help shape Victoria's new animal care and protection laws

The draft Bill for a new Animal Care and Protection Act has been released for public comment.

This is the final opportunity for feedback before the Bill for a new Act is finalised.

The new Act would replace the current Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.

A new Act would explicitly recognise animal sentience and set minimum care requirements for animals in Victorian law for the first time.

The approach to cruelty offences would be strengthened, and the legislation would support co-regulation to reduce the regulatory burden on industries.

Activities like farming, pest control, hunting, fishing and racing would be able to continue under the new laws.

Reforming the laws will protect animals from cruelty while supporting Victorians to continue to interact responsibly with them and will help maintain trust in our animal-based activities and industries.

Regulations setting out requirements for specific species and activities involving animals would support the Act.  A new Act would not come into force for at least two years to enable development of the new regulations.

The first consultation on the regulations has opened alongside the draft Bill consultation.

The consultation is open until 8 March 2024.

Have your say at Engage Victoria.

Online farm business program helps manage risk

Agriculture Victoria is offering farmers an opportunity to participate in a free online business program designed to help farm businesses better manage risk in the face of a variable climate.

The online program, beginning in February on Wednesdays, is suitable for livestock, grain, mixed farmers, horticulturalists and apiarists.

Agriculture Victoria Farm Business Resilience Project Leader Kit Duncan-Jones said participants will improve their skills and knowledge to better prepare for and manage risk, adapt to change and strengthen their farm businesses.

‘The course is designed to help farmers set and achieve their individual business goals and is relevant to those who are new to farming and young farmers, as well as more experienced farmers,’ Mr Duncan-Jones said.

An introductory session will be run in early February, followed by 5 sessions on key farm management topics, including:

  • identifying and managing risks, strategic planning and setting business goals
  • financial management, budgeting and profitable decision making
  • managing people on farm, succession planning and farm safety
  • climate risk and natural resource management
  • business planning.

As part of the course participants will be offered a one-on-one session with an experienced farm management consultant to review their business plan.

Mr Duncan-Jones said participants will be supported by Agriculture Victoria staff and a team of consultants from Pinion Advisory.

‘Online delivery of the course allows farmers from anywhere in the state to participate, from the comfort of their own homes and without the added time commitment of travel.’

‘If you’re a farmer who wants to better manage your business, strengthen your farm resilience to withstand future droughts and shocks, and set up your farm for success now and into the future – this is the program for you.’

To register your interest, please complete this short survey.

For more information, contact Sarah Clack on 0417 316 345 or at

The Farm Business Resilience Program is jointly funded through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and the Victorian Government’s Future Agriculture Skills Capacity Fund.

Find out more about managing for drought as well as during one.

Grant opportunity – Vic Grown Regional Activation Grants Program
a stall at a farmers market

The Vic Grown Regional Activation Grants Program is now open.

Grants of up to $70,000 are available to hold local events that showcase local food and beverages in the regions where they are produced.

Applications close 16 February 2024 at 11.59pm.

Click here to apply for a grant and view program eligibility and guidelines.

Mosquitoes can spread serious diseases
mosquitoes can spread serious diseases

The risk of mosquito-borne diseases is highest in October to late April in Victoria, as mosquito numbers peak.

Mosquito-borne diseases include Japanese encephalitis (JE).

JE is a rare but potentially serious infection of the brain caused by a virus that can spread to humans through mosquito bites.

The best way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is to avoid mosquito bites.

  • Cover up – wear long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing as mosquitoes can bite through tight clothing.
  • Use mosquito repellents containing picaridin or DEET on all exposed skin.  Apply over the top of sunscreen and reapply after swimming or sweating.
  • Limit outdoor activity if lots of mosquitoes are about.
  • Remove stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed around your home or campsite.
  • On holidays make sure your accommodation is fitted with mosquito netting or screens.
  • Don’t forget the kids – always check the insect repellent label. On babies, you might need to spray or rub repellent on their clothes instead of their skin.
  • Avoid applying repellent to the hands of babies or young children.
  • Use ‘knockdown’ fly sprays and plug-in repellent devices indoors.
  • Consider using a mosquito net that is treated with a residual insecticide if sleeping outdoors, including sleeping in a tent or cabin.
  • Mosquito coils can be effective in small outdoor areas where you gather to sit or eat.


Be prepared – JE is a rare but serious infection. Vaccination can protect you.


JE vaccine is free for eligible Victorians, visit your GP or local immunisation provider.

You are eligible for free JE vaccination if you:

  • live in high-risk areas of Victoria and meet additional criteria
  • live or work at properties with pigs
  • are going to high-risk areas for seasonal work.

Click here for more information on the eligibility criteria.

If you are going to high-risk areas for seasonal work, you are eligible to have a free JE vaccination, regardless of Medicare status.

Please note, while the vaccine is free-of-charge, some providers may charge an administration or consultation fee. Be sure to check if this applies to you

Opportunities abound for STEM students in agriculture
a group of students in graduation gowns

Caption: Bianca Rodrigues-Jardim, Ellen de Vries, Prof Brendan Rodoni, Noel Djitro and Conrad Trollip

Students at all levels of education with a passion for STEM are benefitting from Agriculture Victoria’s broadening education program.

Agriculture Victoria Research Higher Education Manager Ms Kendra Whiteman said a program for PhD students has been running in partnership with La Trobe University (LTU) and the University of Melbourne (UoM) since 2012.

‘We currently have 65 PhD students under supervision as well as a large cohort of Masters students who started this summer. More recently, interest in our partnered PhD program has broadened,’ Ms Whiteman said.

‘We are now partnering with more universities to provide industry-based PhD research and industry internship opportunities, including Federation University, Victoria University, University of Tasmania, Deakin University and RMIT.

‘We have received excellent feedback from everyone involved in the process – students, supervisors, staff, tertiary institutions and our stakeholders.

‘Supervising students is mutually beneficial. They bring fresh knowledge from their study to our research and in return gain much from working side by side with our expert agricultural research scientists in a multi-disciplinary and hi-tech environment.

‘When they finish their study, they leave us with a very practical skillset for working in applied agricultural research, with exposure to modern scientific equipment and techniques, plus professional development opportunities like contract management and scientific communication skills.

‘Many of the students we supervise have had the opportunity to present their research to industry stakeholders, including some national and international events, or have had their work featured in industry publications or the wider media,’ she said.

Ms Whiteman said as well as our tertiary partnerships the popular, in-house Get Into AgSTEM Program for primary and secondary students runs statewide throughout the school year.

At our AgriBio Centre for AgriBioScience in Bundoora, Melbourne, and across all our regional SmartFarms Agriculture Victoria also supports secondary school work experience and provides placements for TAFE students to promote agriculture as a career of choice.

Further information:

Higher Education opportunities:

Get into AgSTEM:

Want to learn about biosecurity in your backyard?
looking for simple biosecurity info? subscribe to backyard biosecurity

Victorian small-scale property and livestock owners can now access a new resource to help navigate the world of livestock and farming.

Agriculture Victoria’s ‘Backyard Biosecurity’ newsletter covers everything you need to know about good biosecurity management, with new editions released weekly.

Emergency Animal Disease Industry Engagement Program Manager Kellyanne Harris said the newsletter takes readers on a journey through the most important aspects of managing a small property and livestock.

‘Backyard Biosecurity is a weekly newsletter covering everything from dealing with pests to keeping chickens healthy,’ Ms Harris said.

‘It doesn’t matter when you subscribe, a new edition will arrive in your inbox every week with something new to discover.’

Key topics covered in the newsletter include:

  • Pest animals
  • Weeds
  • Poultry
  • Cattle
  • Honeybees
  • Wildlife
  • Goats
  • Sheep
  • Pigs
  • How to create a farm map
  • Horses
  • Alpacas
  • Marine pests
  • Fire Preparedness.

Readers can access additional information in each newsletter, including biosecurity planning templates for specific animals.

There are also links to online training modules to gain even more biosecurity knowledge.

‘This newsletter is for anyone looking to learn more about managing their farm and keeping their animals happy and healthy.’

‘Even if you’ve just got two alpacas on a small property, having the right information to implement good biosecurity practices on your farm not only benefits you, but it benefits the entire agriculture industry,’ Ms Harris said.

Subscribe to Backyard Biosecurity here.

Weed Spotter newsletter - subscribe today!
weed spotter newsletter, agriculture victoria

The Weed Spotter newsletter keeps registered Weed Spotters up to date on the latest news in the Agriculture Victoria High Risk Invasive Plants program.

This includes new State prohibited weed discoveries in Victoria, progress of eradication programs and species case studies.

Subscribe to the Weed Spotter newsletter here.

In case you missed it

Recent rainfall may have put your hay at risk

Farmers need to be mindful that even well-made hay can still be prone to spontaneous combustion.

Agriculture Victoria Program Manager for Dairy – North, Brett Davidson said spontaneous combustion is usually caused by excess moisture at baling.


Heat stress: getting prepared

Now is a good time for producers to assess their heat stress management programs as heat stress can impose a significant financial and welfare cost to a business.


Caring for stock in challenging weather conditions

Prepare for changing weather and ensure your stock are well cared for with the use of a stock containment area (SCA).


Timely resource for sheep producers

As Victoria’s grain harvest draws to a close in many parts of the state, Agriculture Victoria has updated a resource for farmers intending to graze crop stubble.


Provide shelter for your livestock this summer

Livestock owners are reminded to ensure they provide adequate shelter for their livestock if there are severe weather events forecast over the remainder of summer.


What's on?

Details about Agriculture Victoria events can now be found in one spot on our website. Log on to to find out what's on.

Stock Sense Farming Essentials Webinar Series

Join our 6-part webinar series on the essential elements of farm ownership. Each session offers practical insights and expert advice to empower you on your farming journey.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to set the foundation for a successful, rewarding, and sustainable farming experience.

Starts on Friday 16 February at 6 pm and finishes on Wednesday 20 March.

Register and find out more here.

Understanding carbon on farms - Winchelsea

Carbon and farm emissions is a rapidly evolving space. This forum, followed by a workshop series will take us on a deep dive into understanding carbon and emissions on farms, it’s role in the industry and our obligations as farmers.

WHEN:  Friday 16 February

TIME: 9 am - 4 pm

WHERE: Winchelsea Hub, Eastern Reserve Winchelsea.



  • Graeme Anderson - Agriculture Victoria Climate specialist; Making sense of carbon on farms, the bigger picture
  • Margaret Jewell - MLA Program manager, Environmental sustainability; The red meat industry, grazing management and global food security
  • Professor Bill Malcolm - The University of Melbourne; Economics of emissions on farm
  • Ed Gannon - Director of Media Means and The Better Agriculture Podcast, co-host of  ABC 774's; 'The media’s perspective on carbon and farming'.
Farm Business Success Workshop - Colac
Cam nicholson kneeling down

Do you want to build a stronger, more productive farm business?

Then join us in Colac for a Farm Business Success Workshop with Cam Nicholson from Nicon Rural Services. Come along for an interactive discussion about feeding beef cattle.

If you attend 3 or more sessions, you are eligible for a one-on-one chat with a farm business consultant.

DATE: Friday 23 February

TIME: 10 am - 3 pm

WHERE: Colac Bowls Club, 35 Moore Street, Colac


Adaptive skills for your farming future - Lake Bolac

Grain and mixed farmers are invited to a short course for your farm business future.

DATE: 14 - 15 February

WHERE: Lake Bolac Football Netball Clubrooms, 137 Frontage Rd, Lake Bolac

TIME: 8:30 am for 9 am start to 3 pm

Numbers are limited so please REGISTER ONLINE HERE.

This activity is free.

Presenter: Dr Kate Burke

Kate is an independent farm consultant who has a PhD and extensive experience in crop agronomy and dryland agriculture.

Her expertise is sought by large corporate enterprises but she mostly enjoys working with farmers that have a commitment to improvement. Using an evidence-based approach, Kate will guide you towards ‘excellent farming’.

Topics include:

  • Key profit drivers and high-level benchmarks
  • Income vs cost of production and impact of rotation
  • Calculating basic financial benchmarks
  • Understanding your personal appetite for risk
  • Understanding your production potential to assess variation in profit
  • Managing climate variability and farm financial performance
  • Scenario planning for the 2024 season and beyond.
Back on Track - Camperdown event
Lets get mental health for farmers back on track

Let's get farmer mental health Back On Track! We are seeking local input and community involvement from the Camperdown, Maffra and Tallangatta communities in an exciting new trial of a peer-led model of support for people in farming communities experiencing low mood or poor mental health.

Have your say or get involved.


  • WHEN: Tuesday February 20
  • WHERE: Killara Centre, Camperdown
  • TIME: 11 am – 1 pm
  • Click here to RSVP


  • WHEN: Tuesday February 20
  • WHERE: Killara Centre, Camperdown
  • TIME: 6:30 - 8:30 pm
  • Click here to RSVP

Find out more at the National Centre for Farmer Health.

WestVic Dairy - From idea to innovation guest speaker
guest speaker from idea to innovation 2024 Mike Brady

We are excited to say that another of our amazing guest speakers is Mike Brady.

Mike is a highly regarded agricultural consultant and land agent, renowned for advising landowners on farm business and property matters throughout the country. 

Graduating with a BAgrSc(hons) from UCD in 1987, he started his career as a Dairy Husbandry Advisor with the UK Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, later returning to Ireland in 1989 to work in the private sector. 

In 1995, he founded Brady Group, becoming a leading figure in agricultural advisory services. Mike's global perspective expanded with a Nuffield Scholarship in 2004, studying advisory services in France, Australia, and New Zealand. 

A past National President of the Agricultural Consultants Association of Ireland (ACA), he contributes to the Farming Independent and is a regular commentator on agricultural matters. 

In 2020, Mike joined the Nuffield Ireland board, serving as their representative on the Nuffield International Board. Beyond work, he engages in public debates, occasional TV appearances, and harbors a passion for sports.

Click here for more details and to register

  • 📆Wednesday 21 February
  • ⏰10:30 am – 3 pm (AEST)
  • 📍Deakin University Warrnambool.
Making sense of carbon and emissions for Victorian farmers
making sense of carbon and emissions on farm

Victorian farm businesses are getting on with the job of growing more food and fibre, while dealing with changeable seasons and weather patterns.

We also know that more attention is being paid to the carbon and emissions performance of our agricultural industries and farms.

In this webinar, Agriculture Victoria's climate team will share some of the carbon and emissions tools and resources they have developed to support the farming communities of Victoria make sense of carbon and emissions on farm.

WHEN:  Tuesday 27 February

TIME: 12 - 1 pm



  • Heather Field, Climate Change Service Development Officer
  • Graeme Anderson, Climate Specialist
  • Alison Kelly, Farm Emissions Specialist.

For more information about this webinar, including assistance joining the webinar, email

How to create an animal health plan for sheep - Inverleigh
a mob of sheep in a yard

Join us at Inverleigh to learn how to create an animal health plan for sheep.

WHEN - Wednesday 28 February

TIME: 10 am - 2 pm

WHERE: Inverleigh Bowls Club, 20 Railway Street, Inverleigh.

At this free workshop on Wednesday 28 February you will hear from Dr Monica Dickson from Ballarat Sheep Veterinary Services.

The workshop will cover:

  • identifying local animal health issues and how to prevent and treat them
  • developing an animal health plan
  • importance of an animal health plan as part of your farm biosecurity plan
  • record keeping and using systems to comply with requirements and the Livestock Production Assurance program.


Raising the Roof 2024 – save the date
raising the roof 2024 save the date, hunter valley NSW

Presented by Dairy Australia and Agriculture Victoria, Raising the Roof is the only Australian dairy industry event dedicated to intensive farm systems.

WHEN: 27 – 29 February

WHERE: Hunter Valley, New South Wales


For more information email

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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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