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Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 16 November 2023
In this edition:
Keep your hives and bees healthy this summer
keep your bees and hives healthy this summer

Keep your bees happy, healthy and productive as the weather warms up - bee aware of the biosecurity basics:

  • 🐝 Be aware of biosecurity threats, such as Varroa mite
  • 🐝 Practice good hygiene and sanitation
  • 🐝 Check your apiary and monitor hives and the health of the honeybee brood frequently
  • 🐝 Respect and be aware of laws and regulations established to protect the honeybee industry, Australian agriculture, and the local region
  • 🐝 Report anything unusual to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

For the latest information, visit or

Free financial counselling with RFCS
free financial counselling with the rural financial counselling service

Have you been impacted by recent floods, fires or dry seasonal conditions?

The Rural Financial Counselling Service provides a free and confidential financial counselling service to eligible farmers and small related enterprises who are experiencing, or at risk of, financial hardship.

They can help you to access available support, analyse your business situation, negotiate with lenders and develop strategies to improve your financial position.

Find your closest service or call 1300 771 741.

A taste you can trace – episode 7
a taste you can trace episode 7

Traceability can help reduce food waste along the supply chain, ensuring fresh produce arrives at the end of its journey in top condition.  

In this episode, Luke Wood from Escavox discusses the tech used to follow food around the globe and how traceability can transform export businesses.

🎧Listen online via the AgVic website:

Farm fire preparedness tip – emergency access
farm fire preparedness toolkit emergency access

Will emergency services know where to come in the event of a fire?

As part of your fire season planning, make sure roadside numbers are visible, vegetation around gates, culverts and bridges has been cleared, and gates are wide enough and easy to open.

Check out the tips and templates for developing your farm fire preparedness plan in the Farm Fire Preparedness Toolkit.

Download a copy of the toolkit today.

Find and use our Farm Fire Preparedness Toolkit here.

Gains for breeding program from US trip
Dr Abeya Tefera, attended a Genomic Prediction Breeding course at the University of Florida

The pulse breeding program at Agriculture Victoria’s Horsham SmartFarm is reaping the benefits from a researcher’s recent study trip to the United States.

Agriculture Victoria Molecular Plant Breeder, Dr Abeya Tefera, attended a Genomic Prediction Breeding course at the University of Florida with a special focus on applied artificial intelligence (AI) followed by field visits to the University of Minnesota.

The course brought together scientists from the private sector and public organisations who are interested in learning more about different prediction frameworks and how to integrate layers of data for plant and animal breeding.

Dr Tefera enjoyed fostering new ties with international peers for future collaboration and the skills he learnt have already helped inform new AI processes to study crop development and isolate climate resilient lentil and field pea varieties.

‘Our current advanced breeding strategies are already seeing rapid gains in genetic improvement and now with AI, we can incorporate additional data such as climate and crop development processes to selectively breed resilient traits into new varieties,’ said Dr Tefera.

‘Plants from our hi-tech glasshouses are photographed in the Plant Phenomics Victoria facilities at the SmartFarm and then we use Meta AI’s Segment Anything program to map varietal characteristics, such as boron toxicity and disease susceptibility; this can then be applied across thousands of lines within Horsham Smart Farm’s pulse breeding program.

‘Compared to manual methods AI is making this process more accurate and speeds up the delivery of newer and more resistant varieties within our breeding program.

‘Our research is all about accelerating genetic gain to create higher yielding and more resilient varieties and this new application of AI is a true feather in the cap for our breeding program.’

Dr Tefera’s research is a co-investment between the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Agriculture Victoria.

Further information

Protecting Victoria’s abalone from virus outbreaks

A significant leap forward has been taken that will help keep Victoria’s abalone, a marine snail, safe and healthy.

A comprehensive new Code of Practice, that has been developed in close consultation with industry stakeholders, is a milestone initiative poised to ensure the safety and sustainability of Victoria’s abalone populations.

'This Code of Practice, a collaborative effort with key industry players who catch, process and grow abalone, represents a significant enhancement of biosecurity measures in place for Victoria’s abalone industry,' Agriculture Victoria Principal Veterinary Officer, Aquatic Animal Health Dr Tracey Bradley said.

'This important initiative represents a crucial step toward securing the wellbeing and future of our abalone population.'

The primary goal of the Code is to minimise the risk of outbreaks and the spread of abalone viral ganglioneuritis (AVG), a viral disease that affects the nervous system and can lead to weakness and death of abalone.

This objective will be achieved through the adoption of standardised operating procedures across the industry.

AVG presents a significant threat to both wild and farmed abalone populations, underscoring the urgency of effective control measures.

The virus first made its appearance in southern Victoria in late 2005, without previously being recorded in Australia. During that time, it was declared a notifiable disease under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994.

'It’s imperative that we do everything possible to protect our abalone from this disease,' Dr Bradley said.

'Given the recent incidents of AVG affecting abalone in the Portland area, it’s more important than ever to prioritise collaboration across the industry.

'The Code of Practice provides clear guidelines and procedures to prevent the devastating impact of AVG.'

The virus can spread through water but is fragile and doesn’t last long outside of a host.

It is essential for everyone involved in catching, growing, or processing abalones to adhere to the Code of Practice.

For more information, visit: Abalone Disease.

Barley loose smut seasonal update recording now available

Hear cereal grain pathologists Hari Dadu and Andrea Hill present on key topics including:

  • why has 2023 had higher levels of loose smut compared to other years?
  • what is the carryover risk?
  • what is the best management strategy?

Watch the recording here.

In case you missed it

Victoria’s top MSA producers announced

Some of Victoria’s tastiest beef has been recognised in the 2023 Meat Standards Australia (MSA) Excellence in Eating Quality Awards, by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).


Farm biosecurity simplified with new animations

Victorian livestock owners can brush up on their farm biosecurity knowledge using a series of easy-to-follow animations.

Agriculture Victoria has released a series of new animated videos, highlighting a range of important biosecurity information in a simple format.


Prevent parasite impacts on your pig herd health

Agriculture Victoria has found roundworm (Ascaris suum) in one-third of pig herds tested as part of a free new animal health program.


New resources for grain farmers as dry finish looms

Victorian grain growers have a suite of new resources to help them prepare, and deal with the effects of late frosts and a potential dry finish to the growing season.


Pawsitive news for Victoria’s pets

The Victorian Government is improving Victoria’s animal welfare services and providing free or low-cost pet desexing services to pet owners in need.

Minister for Agriculture Ros Spence recently visited Second Chance Animal Rescue in Craigieburn to announce the successful recipients of the third round of the Pet Desexing and Equine Rehabilitation grants.

The overpopulation of dogs and cats poses a significant threat to our environment and also puts pressure on Victoria’s animal shelters – these grants tackle this problem by ensuring all Victorians – no matter their income, can desex their pets. 

The new round of grants includes $500,000 to support councils and not-for-profits to deliver free or low-cost desexing programs for cats and dogs and $330,000 to organisations that rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome horses.

Since 2021, the government has delivered more than $1.5 million in Pet Desexing grants to 32 organisations across the state.

Second Chance Animal Rescue has been awarded $75,000 in the latest round of the Pet Desexing Grants program and aim to host a series of free ‘desexathon’ days – with the goal of desexing 340 cats.

Minister Spence also officially opened applications for Round 11 of the Animal Welfare Fund Grants Program – offering grants of up to $200,000 to support animal shelters, community foster care networks, expand or upgrade their equipment or services – while also helping veterinary clinics provide low-cost services.

Eligible organisations can now apply for funding for projects that benefit companion animals such as rabbits, caged birds and ‘pocket pets’, in addition to cats and dogs.

Since 2014, the Animal Welfare Fund has awarded more than $10 million to not-for-profit animal shelters, foster care organisations and community vet clinics to improve companion animal welfare in Victoria.

The Victorian Budget 2023/24 builds on the government’s strong support for animal welfare and pets – with an additional $20 million to deliver more dog parks, establish a new wildlife hospital and support animal welfare organisations.

Applications for Round 11 of Grants are open until 9 December 2023.

To apply, visit

The Curdies River Coordinating Committee

The Curdies River Coordinating Committee has been established to provide a transparent and effective platform for knowledge sharing, consultation, and collaboration in relation to improving the health of the Curdies River and its tributaries.

It includes representatives from the Corangamite CMA, Agriculture Victoria, WestVic Dairy, Parks Victoria, Corangamite Shire Council, Moyne Shire Council, Environment Protection Authority Victoria, Heytesbury District Landcare Network, Wannon Water, Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority and 6 community representatives.

The Committee wants to hear from the community about how you value the Curdies River and its tributaries.

This will help guide the work they do to make the Curdies River a healthy river for all to enjoy.

Complete the survey here.

Helping Victorians choose a pet with confidence

The Victorian Government is helping Victorians find a puppy from a reputable breeder, ensuring the highest animal welfare standards for their new best friend.

Minister for Agriculture Ros Spence recently launched the new Commercial Dog Breeder logo, which will be displayed by approved commercial dog breeding businesses in Victoria.

Potential dog owners looking to buy from a commercial dog breeder in Victoria should look for the new logo, which signifies the business is compliant with standard of care requirements – giving Victorians certainty that they are dealing with a legitimate commercial dog breeder.

The logo is a key element of the government’s reforms on dog breeding and pet shop industries to better regulate the sale of dogs and cats. 

Victorian dog breeders with more than 10 fertile female dogs are required to apply for commercial dog breeder approval and the new logo will help to give customers renewed confidence that their puppies are ethically sourced.

The welfare of our animals and wildlife remains a priority for the government, receiving $18.5 million in the Victorian Budget 2023/24.

This includes $7 million towards the Animal Welfare Fund grants program, recognising the role companion animals play in the lives of Victorians.

For more information on the new Commercial Dog Breeders logo visit

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.

EAD Preparedness webinar 2: waste disposal

DATE: Monday 20 November

TIME: 10 – 11 am


Agriculture service providers, industry bodies, agencies, and councils are invited to Agriculture Victoria’s webinar series on Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Preparedness.

During the webinar series, expert speakers from Agriculture Victoria will present important topics, including current risk outlook for an EAD incursion, key response activities following an EAD detection and the importance of farm biosecurity planning.

You are encouraged to attend the webinars to learn what you can do to help protect Victoria’s livestock industries and raise awareness within your organisation and support your community. Please extend this invitation to other relevant people in your organisation.

Webinar 2 – waste disposal

If an EAD outbreak is declared, Agriculture Victoria is responsible for the destruction and disposal of animal carcasses as required, including those that can be buried on-farm.

To eradicate an EAD, it is important to quickly dispose of carcasses after they are destroyed, as well as dispose any infected animal products, materials and wastes, as soon as possible, to reduce the risk of the disease spreading.

It is important that disposal is done in a way that minimises the spread of disease and any adverse effects on the environment, public health and the community.

On-farm burial is the first preference where possible, as it removes the risk of spreading the disease that may occur if carcasses and other products were taken off-farm for disposal.

The extent to which on-farm burial can be used will depend on the size, location and characteristics of the farm and the number of carcasses that need to be buried.

Topics include:

  • Waste generated in an EAD emergency - amounts and distribution
  • Overview of waste disposal strategy
  • On-farm carcass burial guidance
  • Planning ahead for on-farm waste disposal sites using the Navigating Farm Development tool.


  • Bronwyn Green, Project Director, EAD Waste Disposal
  • Ann McDowell, Agriculture Victoria, Agriculture Sector Development Officer.
Pyrenees and Smeaton BestWool/BestLamb Group info session

The Pyrenees and Smeaton BestWool/BestLamb groups invite you to attend 1 of 2 sessions.

Come along and hear about the new ePacks. 

Bring your device, smart phone, tablet or laptop. John Cox from AWEX will assist you to login, create a farm account and be job ready for next shearing.

Coopers Animal Health Advisor Rachael Holmes will explain their new product Flexolt, the first oral lice treatment for sheep.

Hear from Neil James from Agriculture Victoria on how to become a group member.

Option 1

DATE: Monday 20 November

TIME: 7 pm

LOCATION: Creswick Tennis Centre

Option 2

DATE: Tuesday 21 November

TIME: 7 pm



RSVP By Friday 17 November.

For more information contact Neil James, Agriculture Victoria, Ballarat on 0417 353 929 or email 

This summer's climate: what can we expect?
Cows in a dry paddock. The text reads: summer forecast webinar. Wednesday 22 November, 12:30 pm

Dairy Australia is running a free one-hour webinar to provide farmers with information on the dry season forecast and regional summaries of soil moisture.

When: Wednesday 22 November, 12:30 - 1:30 pm

Register your place here.

The webinar will feature Dale Grey from Agriculture Victoria, an expert seasonal risk agronomist with 29 years' experience providing agronomy, climate change, climate and weather analysis for farmers, agribusiness, government and the media across South-east Australia. He authors the The Fast Break climate newsletters and produces a monthly YouTube climate update called The Very Fast Break. In 2022, Dale was a recipient of a Grains Research and Development Corporations Seed of Light award for excellence in grains industry communication.

Topics to be covered by Dale include:

  • Current modelled and actual soil moisture across Victorian dairy areas - how long can soil moisture last?
  • Current modelled climate outlooks - a warmer summer but not necessarily drier
  • Historic effects of El Nino over Summer
  • Heat stress Bureau of Meteorology climate forecasts for extreme heat and experimental forecasts of cow heat stress.
Creating an animal health plan for cattle – Colac
creating an animal health plan for cattle

Join Agriculture Victoria Veterinarian Officer Dr Hannah Manning for a free workshop.

At this interactive workshop you will identify local health issues and learn about their prevention and treatment option solutions to create an animal health plan for your herd. 

An animal health plan is an important tool for farmers to minimise biosecurity risks and increase animal performance.

Workshop topics:

  • identify local animal health issues and solutions to prevent and treat
  • create an animal health plan
  • find out how your animal health plan is part of your biosecurity plan
  • learn about what records you need to keep and the systems you can use to comply with regulation and the Livestock Production Assurance program.


DATE: Tuesday 28 November

TIME: 10 am – 2 pm

WHERE: Colac Bowling Club, Cnr Moore and Armstrong Streets.


For more information contact Hannah Manning Livestock Industry Development Officer, on 0400 532 595 or email.

MLA Bendigo Update
MLA updates 23 November 2023 Bendigo, Victoria

Agriculture Victoria will be at the MLA Update in Bendigo.

DATE: Thursday 23 November

WHERE: Fosterville Gold Exhibition Centre at the Bendigo Showgrounds, 42 – 72 Holmes Road, Bendigo.

TIME: From 9 am to 6:30 pm, with the plenary session starting at 10 am.

The MLA Updates is working around an umbrella theme of Sustainability from Paddock to Plate.

The day-long event will showcase solutions and technologies which embrace sustainability and help set Australia’s red meat and livestock industries up for success. 

MLA’s AGM will also be held from 3:30 pm onsite at the showgrounds.

Find out more at the MLA website.

Managing fire risk on farms – tools, tips, resources and a seasonal update
managing fire risk on farms - tools tips resources and a seasonal update

DATE: Tuesday 28 November

TIME:  12 - 1 pm


Every farm and farming business is unique, being well prepared for bushfires can assist farm businesses to recover faster.

Planning and preparing for the bushfire season includes identifying risks and undertaking tasks to prepare your farm ahead of the season.

In this webinar, Kylie will highlight farm preparedness activities, along with tools and templates available in the new Fire preparedness toolkit page.

Dale will discuss what the current drier climate drivers of the El Nino and the positive Indian Ocean Dipole are up to as well as current soil moisture, remote sensed plant growth and grass curing.


  • Kylie Macreadie, Land Management Extension Officer
  • Dale Grey, Seasonal Risk Agronomist.

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

Joining confinement feeding and current opportunities workshops

DATE: Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 November

TIME: 8:30 am - 1 pm

WHERE:  Advantage Feeders farm, Burrumbeet.

REGISTRATION ONLINE  or call 1800 88 15 75.

While confidence isn’t high and income, in the short term, won’t be as high compared to the previous years, this is a great time to be assessing your production systems, making sure you are making informed decisions and not missing out on profitable opportunities when the majority are acting on pessimistic mentality.

The workshop will be bringing together information covering the important and timely aspects of livestock production:

  • Where the lamb and beef prices are heading
  • Containment/feedlot design
  • Developing low-cost maintenance rations
  • Important factors to get right for joining cows and ewes
  • Mineral supplementation for joining and summer grazing
  • Pasture walk – comparing 3 hybrid ryegrasses
  • Low cost haylage (30% moisture) production
  • Maximising production from summer crops.

Guest speakers

Cathy Bunter, Veterinary Officer, Agriculture Victoria

  • Summer mineral requirements
  •  Optimal joining strategies.

Matt Dalgleish, Director, Episode 3

  • Sheep turnoff ratio vs annual flock change
  • Forecast modelling and the key inputs.

Gerard Roney, Director, Advantage Feeders

  • Low-cost rations in containment
  • Managing excess protein in summer crops
  • Lambing every 8 months – pros and cons.

Xavier Bourke, Livestock Manager, TB White & Sons

  • Current cattle and sheep trading opportunities.
Australian Women in Agriculture 2023 Conference
australian women in agriculture 2023 conference seed to success

The Australian Women in Agriculture National Conference is coming to Bendigo in November.

Please join us to celebrate the role of women in the agricultural industry. The conference provides a platform for women to connect, learn, and grow.

A variety of speakers that will inform, influence, innovate and inspire.

  • Friday 24 November gala dinner
  • Friday afternoon will kick off with drinks and canapes from 5 pm and then roll into a gala dinner from 6 pm
  • Saturday 25 November conference 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.

The conference features inspiring speakers, informative workshops, and networking opportunities, fostering a sense of community and support among women in agriculture.

It addresses important topics such as leadership, sustainable farming practices, and personal growth.

Ultimately, the Women in Agriculture Conference is a testament to the resilience, innovation, and influence of women in shaping the future of agriculture.


  • Full package (Friday and Saturday) $180
  • Networking evening and gala dinner (Friday 24) $85
  • Conference (Saturday 25) $110
  • AWiA members - 10% discount on ticket prices!

Tickets at:

For more information visit

Sustainable Dairies Program

WestVic Dairy, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and Agriculture Victoria are conducting a 4–day workshop including a Fertsmart workshop to better understand nutrient budgeting and management, including effluent use and storage.

Participants will receive 5 free soil tests and 2 free effluent tests.

Results from these tests will be used to create comprehensive nutrient and effluent use plans, including farm maps outlining nutrient status, soil types, management zones and application areas.


  • Day 1 – 12 December
  • Day 2 – 13 December
  • Day 3 and 4 – February 2024.

Time: 10 am – 2:30 pm

Location: Timboon – to be confirmed.

For more information email Libby Swayn or call on 0459 612 681.

2023/2024 State and Territory Landcare Award

Nominations for the 2023/2024 State and Territory Landcare Awards are now open!

Now in its 32nd year, the State and Territory Landcare Awards stand as a prestigious biennial national Landcare Awards program.

The objective is to honour individuals, groups and organisations that are making outstanding contributions to caring for the environment in their local communities for the benefit of all Australians today, and for generations to come.

In each state and territory, the Landcare Awards will be granted to recognise the achievements that encompass climate action, environmental leadership, sustainable agriculture, First Nations, Women in Landcare, youth, Coastcare and children.

Nominating is free. You can nominate yourself, or you can nominate someone you know who should be recognised for their work to restore, enhance and protect the natural environment in their community. 

Find out more from the Landcare Australia website.

Moyne Shire - Make It Work Program
make it work

Make It Work is a collaboration between Commerce Moyne and Moyne Shire Council, the program aims to assist local business address the current worker shortage.

Make It Work has a growing database with over 100 people who are willing to work, some for a few months at a time while they travel through the region, some for longer periods.

The easy-to-use database can be filtered by industry, you can view each worker’s experience, qualifications, and contact information.

Many of the workers have expressed interest in agricultural work, they come with experience in various trades, and hold many licenses and certificates need for work on the land.

An added benefit of the Make It Work program is that subsidised site fees are available at 6 of the Moyne Shire’s Caravan Parks to help accommodate your new workers.

To start viewing and connecting with these willing workers, register today at Make It Work Program  Commerce Moyne.

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

Raising the Roof, the Australian dairy industry’s only major event that focusses specifically on intensive farm systems, will be held in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales from 27–29 February,2024.

WHEN: 27 – 29 February 2024

WHERE: Hunter Valley, New South Wales

For more information email

Australian Dairy Conference - February 2024

Australia’s premier dairy event will return to the Victorian capital of Melbourne in February 2024 from 12–14 February 2024.

Program details and more information to be released throughout 2023.

Find out more here.

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