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Thursday, 1 February 2024

In this edition:

Mosquito numbers peak
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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, or 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.
Keep unwanted BBQ pests away this summer
illustration of fruits that attract Queensland Fruit Fly

There’s nothing better than tucking into homegrown tomatoes or a fruit platter at a BBQ, but not when you find Queensland fruit fly (QFF) have made a head start.

Agriculture Victoria’s Statewide Fruit Fly Co-ordinator Cathy Mansfield is urging Victorian home gardeners to take extra steps this summer to protect their produce from QFF.

‘Plants like tomatoes crop for months, so it’s important to protect them for the entire season,’ Ms Mansfield said.

‘Remove damaged fruit on trees, vines or on the ground, as it might be harbouring fruit fly.

‘Each female fruit fly can lay hundreds of eggs in her lifetime, so every maggot you destroy helps save your own crops and your neighbours’, along with helping to protect horticultural producers.’

QFF can breed in many other home garden crops that are present in mid-summer such as peaches, nectarines and berries, with fruit becoming increasingly attractive as it ripens.

Fruit infested with fruit fly should be microwaved, frozen or placed into plastic bags and left in the sun for at least 14 days before being thrown in the rubbish bin.

‘Keep damaged fruit out of the compost – the warm and humid conditions create the perfect environment to rear a new generation of flies,’ Ms Mansfield said.

Other ongoing preventative measures include netting crops, with regular checks essential to ensure they’re tightly secured and haven’t been damaged by branches.

‘Ask for fine insect netting at your hardware store or garden centre – the holes are approximately 2 millimetres in diameter, rather than bird netting which QFF can get through,’ Ms Mansfield said.

‘Insect netting can be expensive but as long as it’s UV stable should last for many years, which makes it a very affordable long-term control method,’ Ms Mansfield said.

‘You can also use QFF pheromone traps to catch male flies and this will help you to know whether there are flies present.’

‘If you do use baits or insecticides, follow the label instructions and maintain your program of applications to minimise the chance that you will miss a generation of flies.’

For more information and tip to identify and control read  Queensland fruit fly.

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 three to five 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 three 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, or in NSW your Local Land Services.

Online farm business program helps manage risk
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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.

Opportunities abound for STEM students in agriculture
man flanked by graduates in gowns. Left to right: Bianca Rodrigues-Jardim, Ellen de Vries, Prof Brendan Rodoni, Noel Djitro and Conrad Trollip

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:

Grant opportunity – Vic Grown Regional Activation Grants Program
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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 11.59 pm.

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

Have your say on Victoria’s new animal protection laws
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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 2 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.

Good disease management to be discussed at BCG Trials Review Day

'Good crop disease management will be required in 2024 due to the early summer rain events and potential disease risk in south-east of Victoria,' Agriculture Victoria Research Scientist Dr Hari Dadu has confirmed.

The cereal disease expert will be outlining his approach at the BCG Members’ Only Trials Review Day on Friday 23 February at the Birchip Leisure Centre.

'I’ll be discussing the importance of off-season and in-crop strategies to manage cereal diseases during 2024. This will include the advantages of removing green bridge by mid-March, use of cereal disease guide to select better varieties and the importance of paddock selection,' Dr Dadu explained.

'I’ll also highlight the status of fungicide resistance in Victoria and detail the strategies to slow the fungicide resistance development and protect their longevity.'

Dr Dadu will also be discussing the results of 2023 trials which showed significant yield losses due to disease despite the dry spring.

'Ag Vic trials during 2023 demonstrated yield losses of up to 28% and 18% in susceptible varieties due to Septoria tritici blotch (STB) in wheat and Net form of net blotch (NFNB) in barley, respectively.

'Yield losses due to STB in Mallee were reported for the first time. In both crops, avoiding highly susceptible varieties reduced disease risk and yield losses.

'Fungicides were found effective where susceptible or worse rated varieties are grown,' Dr Dadu said.

Other topics covered on the day will include farmer and adviser experiences, grid sampling at a paddock scale, silicon in wheat and lentils, long coleoptile for moisture management, crop disease research, Rosinweed and Star of Bethlehem management, insects in harvest weed seed control systems, vetch for risk mitigation in dry times, soil microbial indicators, slug and snail management, pulse varieties update, the latest cereal varieties and protein mapping experiences.

As a members’-only event, attendees will have first access to the 2023 BCG Season Research Results compendium to be released on the day.

'BCG Trials Review Day also offers a wonderful opportunity for members to connect, meet new people and catch up with other farmers, researchers, agronomists and industry representatives from across the region,' BCG Senior Extension Manager Kelly Angel said.

BCG Trials Review Day is a members’-only event. To become a member click here

To secure your place at BCG’s Trials Review Day, click here

The event will run from 9 am to 4 pm.

Want to learn about biosecurity in your backyard?
A woman looking at her mobile phone. The text reads Looking for a 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.

Sign up to the Weed Spotter newsletter
Image of Hyacinth

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.

Managing heat stress in cattle and sheep for small landholders
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Are you a small-scale livestock owner in the Bendigo area?

Agriculture Victoria and the City of Greater Bendigo are inviting you to a free workshop on managing heat stress for your sheep and cattle.


Tuesday, 6 February, from 6 – 8:30 pm

Quality Hotel Lakeside, 286 Napier St, Bendigo.


  • Identifying heat stress in sheep and cattle during summer
  • Shearing responsibilities and animal health
  • Managing flies and livestock
  • How does heat stress management fit into your biosecurity management plan
  • How to check the condition of your animals.


  • Dr Hayden Morrow, Agriculture Victoria District Veterinary Officer
  • Erica Schelfhorst, Agriculture Victoria Livestock Extension Officer.


Around the paddock

Tickets are still available for the free Around the Paddock dinner, occurring in Cohuna on Wednesday, 7 February.

Council, Northern District Community Health, Agriculture Victoria and Murray Dairy are partnering to host this special event, featuring Kyabram-based leading rural mental health speaker, Warren Davies, also known as The Unbreakable Farmer.

While targeted at dairy farmers, all farmers and those who support our Gannawarra farming community are welcome to attend.

For more information and bookings, click here

For catering purposes, bookings are required by 12 noon Monday, 5 February.

Bookings are essential with tickets limited to 80. The event includes a free dinner and drinks will be available at bar prices.

Hosted at: Jen's On George (formerly Waffles), 105 King George Street, Cohuna from 6:30 pm.

Farming fundamentals for new landholders
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Are you a new landholder with a small farm in the City of Greater Bendigo and surrounds? Are you planning to buy livestock?

Come along to a free, practical and hands-on day on the fundamentals of farming.

This free workshop is designed to ensure you are providing a safe and healthy environment for not only yourself and the animals you care for, but anyone who visits your farm.


  • Farm safety for small landholders
  • Correct design of yards, loading ramps and crushes
  • Farm planning
  • Welfare requirements of different livestock
  • Where, when, and why of farm infrastructure choices.

Food will be provided so registration is essential.


  • John Darcy, MOFS Farm Safety Advisor
  • Christine Gorman, Calmer Farmer Consulting.

Friday, 9 February from 8:45 am - 3 pm

Sedgwick Hall, Sedgwick

Part of the workshop will be held on-farm, please wear covered shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather, and note that some fitness will be required to move around the farm.

Attendees will be responsible for their own transport.

Click here to register

Creating an animal movement record workshop

Agriculture Victoria is delivering free hands-on workshops for cattle, sheep and goat producers to understand their livestock traceability requirements.

Participants will learn how complete National Vendor Declarations (NVDs) and how to use the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database to complete property-to-property transfers. 

Traceability is an important tool for farmers to minimise biosecurity risks and livestock industries to maintain market access.

Date: Tuesday 13 February

Time: 9:30 am – 3 pm

Where: Benalla DEECA office, 89 Sydney Road, Benalla.


  • Victorian livestock traceability requirements
  • updating your Property Identification Code (PIC)
  • completing National Vendor Declarations (NVDs)
  • setting up, navigating and using the NLIS database
  • completing property-to-property (P2P) transfers on the NLIS database.

Workshop numbers are limited so you must register to attend.

For more information contact Kirstie Anderson, Project Leader, Innovative Sheep and Beef Networks, on 0437 990 967 or at

Back On Track: Tallangatta Community Consult
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Let’s get mental health for farmers Back on Track!

The National Centre of Farmer Health (NCFH) are seeking local input and community involvement from the Tallangatta community 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.

Connect with fellow community members who share a common interest in mental health and wellbeing, build relationships and be part of creating a supportive network within the Tallangatta community.

NCFH will be running two sessions on Tuesday 13 February at 11 am - 1pm or 6:30 - 8:30 pm. Meals will be provided at both sessions.

For more information please get in touch with Suzy at, or on (03) 5551 8533, or visit Back On Track.

Webinars: Stock Sense Farming Essentials Webinar Series

Join Stock Sense 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 14 February at 6 pm and finishes on Wednesday 20 March.

Register and find out more here.

Webinar: Making sense of carbon and emissions for Victorian farmers
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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.


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

Click here to register

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

2024 Australian Dairy Conference in February

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

Program details and more information to be released throughout 2024.

Find out more here.

Raising the roof 2024
Raise the roof banner image

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

Hear from international experts who are at the forefront of cutting-edge dairy farming.

Find out about global best practice, and the latest industry breakthroughs that are reshaping the future of dairy.

Learn about the tools and resources you’ll need to thrive in the ever-evolving dairy industry.

Gain invaluable insights that will empower you to make informed decisions about feedpad or contained housing infrastructure.

WHEN: 27 – 29 February

WHERE: Hunter Valley, NSW


For more information email

Rochester/Elmore Farm Business Resilience Course - Workshop series
Rochester workshops banner image

Want to build a stronger, more productive farm business?

Where: All these face-to-face workshops will be held at Pine Grove Fire Station; 2691 Whinfield Rd, Lockington.

Agriculture Victoria has the workshop series to help you build more resilience in your farm business.

You will leave each workshop with new skills and an action plan to achieve your business goals.

As a bonus, if you attend 3 or more workshops, you will secure a business planning one-on-one session with Senior Agribusiness Consultant Jane Foster from ORM Pty Ltd at the end of the workshop series.

Workshop 1 – Planning for Success
Date: Friday 8 March
Time: 9:30 am – 12 pm

Topic: Join Senior Agribusiness Consultant, Jane Foster, ORM Pty Ltd, for a workshop on identifying and managing risks, strategic planning and setting business goals.

Workshop 2 – Business Success
Date: Thursday 14 March
Time: 9 am – 12:30 pm

Topic: Join Farm Business Economist, Sam Henty, for a workshop on financial management, budgeting and profitable decision making.

Workshop 3 – People Success
Date: Thursday 21 March
Time: 9 am – 12:30 pm

Topic: Dairy Biosecurity and Business Resilience Officer, Helen Chenoweth, will deliver a workshop on managing people on farm, succession planning and farm safety.

Workshop 4 – Climate Risk and Natural Resource Management
Date: Tuesday 26 March
Time: 9 am – 12:30 pm

Topic: Seasonal Risk Agronomist, Dale Grey and Land Management Extension Officer Martin Hamilton, will deliver a workshop on understanding and identifying climate risk and natural resource management on farm.


For more information contact Elizabeth Alsop on or call 0457 838 537.

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