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Barwon South-West Ag news
Thursday 29 February 2024
In this edition:
Fire situation – stay informed
Animal welfare banner image

Our teams are on the ground working with impacted communities to assess the agricultural impacts of the Bayindeen-Rocky Road fire.

The situation is rapidly evolving so please stay up to date with current warnings by following VicEmergency.

  • Download the VicEmergency app.
  • Visit the VicEmergency website.
  • Follow VicEmergency on Facebook and X (Twitter)
  • Listen to local ABC radio.

The immediate focus for our team is urgent animal welfare needs and supporting our farmers. If your property has been impacted and you have urgent animal welfare needs, please contact the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.

Recovery assistance – 13 February fire and storms

Farmers who have experienced fire and storm impacts across the state from the 13 February severe weather events can contact us on 0427 694 185 or at for agriculture recovery assistance or advice, including technical support.

When phoning or emailing, please provide details that include a contact name, phone number and locality with a brief statement about the nature of your concern, so an appropriate member of the Agriculture Recovery Team can contact you.

Farmers who have been impacted by fire or storm events and have urgent animal welfare needs, please contact the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.

$21M for council clean-up and assistance after Victorian storms and floods

The Australian and Victorian governments are continuing to support disaster-impacted communities, with more than $21 million in assistance to support immediate and long-term recovery following the storms and floods which commenced on 24 December 2023 through to mid-January 2024.

The assistance is being provided through the jointly-funded Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

The funding package includes:

  • $13.1 million Clean-up Program to deliver all-hazards assessments, conduct make-safe and demolition works for impacted and uninsured residents, as well as support for the removal of flood debris – coordinated by Emergency Recovery Victoria.
  • $8 million Council Support Fund to support impacted councils to clean-up and restore community assets, facilities and services – as well as make repairs to infrastructure like walking trails, playgrounds and sporting fields.

This support will be available in the 29 Local Government Areas (LGAs): Alpine Shire, Baw Baw Shire, Ballarat City, Benalla Rural City, City of Greater Bendigo, Buloke Shire, Campaspe Shire, Cardinia Shire, East Gippsland Shire, Gannawarra Shire, Glenelg Shire, Greater Shepparton City, Indigo Shire, Loddon Shire, Macedon Ranges Shire, Mansfield Shire, Melton City, Mitchell Shire, Mount Alexander Shire, Murrindindi Shire, Nillumbik Shire, Northern Grampians Shire, Pyrenees Shire, South Gippsland Shire, Strathbogie Shire, Rural City of Wangaratta, Warrnambool City, Wellington Shire and Yarra Ranges Shire.

Emergency Recovery Victoria is continuing to work with impacted councils to understand the assistance required to support communities following the storm and floods.

For more information on recovery support visit the Emergency Recovery Victoria website or call the Emergency Recovery Hotline on 1800 560 760.

Anthrax vaccination program continues in Shepparton

Agriculture Victoria is continuing to vaccinate livestock at properties in the Shepparton region, following the recent detection of anthrax on two farms.

Almost 6,000 cattle and sheep have been vaccinated as part of the response so far, with private veterinarians working alongside members of Agriculture Victoria’s Animal Health team.

No further cases of anthrax have been detected.

Victoria's Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Graeme Cooke encouraged farmers in the region to continue to monitor the health of their livestock and report any sudden deaths.

‘Early reporting ensures we can effectively respond to any suspected cases of anthrax and put measures in place to limit the risk of spread.

‘You must report any cases of unexplained deaths where anthrax is suspected to the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888, to your local vet, or to Agriculture Victoria animal health staff on 136 186,’ Dr Cooke said.

Dr Cooke also praised the efforts of landholders and vets for supporting the vaccination and surveillance efforts so far.

‘Undertaking a vaccination program of this size requires a lot of cooperation and people on the ground working under careful biosecurity protocols.

‘Vaccination is a crucial part of an effective response to anthrax, and Agriculture Victoria maintains a ready supply of vaccines for this purpose.

‘Significant progress has been made so far and will continue until all quarantine controls have been lifted,’ Dr Cooke said.

Anthrax occurs occasionally in northern Victoria, most often during the warmer months.

If livestock on your property die suddenly, anthrax could potentially be the cause.

It is critically important that the carcasses of cattle and sheep that die suddenly without an obvious cause are tested for anthrax by Agriculture Victoria or a private veterinarian before they are moved, to reduce the risk of disease spread and prevent a large-scale anthrax incident.

An anthrax factsheet on the Agriculture Victoria website is available answering frequently asked questions and providing more information.

Recording: Making sense of carbon and emissions for Victorian farmers
Sheep and trees image

Presented by Agriculture Victoria specialists:

  • Heather Field
  • Graeme Anderson
  • Alison Kelly.

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

View the recording: Recording Registration - Zoom
Duration: 62 minutes (including questions)
Password: Climate

This webinar was originally presented on Tuesday 27 February 2024. 

All climate webinar recordings can be found on our website.

Useful websites

Bolstering native food markets through blockchain

The Victorian Government is helping to bolster the native foods industry by supporting Traditional Owners with new options to track and sell native foods through blockchain.

Around 70 native foods business practitioners attended the inaugural First Nations Native Food Blockchain Workshop at Healesville last week.

The workshop was delivered by the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub in partnership with Agriculture Victoria and the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owners Corporation (FVTOC).

Over two days, the workshop explored the potential for blockchain technology to support positive outcomes for Victorian Aboriginal native food businesses. The workshop also focused on ways in which blockchain can support and uphold Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property rights for Victorian Traditional Owners.

Blockchain technology offers new abilities for data management and governance by enabling decentralised and tamper-resistant storage. It enables new and unique ways to further enable Aboriginal self-determination and data sovereignty for First Nations people within the native foods and botanicals industry.

The technology also offers a secure and transparent system for tracking product authenticity, with the ability to store and manage traditional knowledge and stories.

This workshop aligns with the objectives of the Traditional Owner Native Food and Botanicals Strategy, developed by the FVTOC and the Victorian Government in 2021, which laid out a plan to create a strong, authentic and sustainable bushfood sector.

After the Flood podcast series - episode 3
agriculture victoria agvic talk

When we think of livestock on farms, it's usually the hooved variety. However, in Victoria, one of the biggest livestock varieties doesn't have hooves.

They have wings.

Hear from Natalie Doran-Browne from Wondermazing Honeybees as she discusses the road to recovery after the loss of hives in the 2022 floods, helped along by the support of the bee keeping industry.

Listen via the AgVic website

Don't be calm – panic grasses can be deadly for lambs
Ewe and lambs on pasture

Dr Jeff Cave, Agriculture Victoria Senior Veterinary Officer

Panic grasses have thrived in some crop stubbles and other pastures with recent summer storms.

Some common names for panic grasses include fairy grass, witch grass and hairy panic.

These grasses can cause photosensitisation and death, particularly in lambs.

The young, rapidly growing grasses contain steroidal saponins, which when eaten can form crystals in the liver, damaging the liver cells and obstructing the outflow of bile.

The breakdown products of chlorophyll, which is found in green grass, are then no longer cleared by the liver and cause damage to skin tissues when exposed to light.

So, the thin skinned, wool-free parts of the sheep which are exposed to sunlight get damaged and show signs like severe sunburn. Typically affected areas are the ears, eyelids, nose, lips and vulva.

Affected lambs will seek shade and be reluctant to graze.
The liver damage may lead to jaundice, and with the swelling caused by photosensitisation the condition is sometimes known as ‘yellow bighead’.

This liver damage can kill the lambs before photosensitisation develops.

The only treatment is to remove affected stock from the toxic pastures and provide them access to shade.

If this happens promptly, affected stock can recover completely, as the liver has a remarkable ability to heal itself.

However, some livers may never recover totally, and this leads to ongoing poor metabolic processing of food consumed.  So, food conversion efficiency will be poor, and the animals may never do well.
The best prevention is to avoid grazing risky paddocks. If this is not possible never put hungry sheep straight out onto risky pastures but give them a good feed of hay first.

If possible, graze older sheep as they have better developed rumens and are more resistant to the effects of the toxin, and check the sheep twice daily until you are confident they have no ill effects.

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

Consultation on animal welfare laws extended
help shape Victoria's new animal care and protection laws

The Victorian Government has extended the consultation period on the draft bill for the new animal care and protection laws.

Victorians now have until Monday 25 March to have their say on the bill – which will replace the current Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA Act).

Executive Director of Animal Welfare Victoria, Dr Trevor Pisciotta, said the extension gives interested people and organisations more time to make a submission, following recent extreme weather events.

‘We’ve been committed to engaging with key stakeholders and the Victorian community throughout these reforms – this is the third and final round of consultation.’

‘Regional communities have already strongly influenced the form of the Draft Bill, which will help to maintain the trust of our trading partners, consumers and the community in Victoria’s animal-based activities and industries’, Dr Pisciotta said.

In addition to the three consultation rounds, Agriculture Victoria has consulted with more than 50 organisations representing people involved with animals or with an interest in animals and the law. The feedback has been carefully considered and contributed to the reform process to date.

Dr Pisciotta said the POCTA Act is nearly 40 years old and does not always reflect current community expectations, developments in animal science or changing industry practices.

‘Demonstrating a high standard of animal welfare is critical in supporting Victorian industries to maintain access to important markets. For most Victorians, there will be no major changes to the way they operate daily.’

‘These laws will strengthen Victoria’s reputation as a humane and responsible producer of food – while being fit-for-purpose for modern day farming practices,' Dr Pisciotta said.

Key changes include minimum standards of care and requirements around husbandry procedures – which already feature in the existing codes of practice and Australian Standards and Guidelines for Animal Welfare.

The proposed laws recognise animal sentience – that animals can have positive and negative experiences. Being explicit about this won't change how Victorians need to treat their animals, or whether they can be owned or used by humans. It won't create any legal rights for third parties, and it won't give animals legal rights.

Dr Pisciotta encourages interested community members, groups and organisations to make a submission and complete a survey about future regulations.

‘Please visit the Engage Victoria website, where you will find supporting materials to help you make a submission, including a guide to the draft Bill and a list of Frequently Asked Questions,’ Dr Pisciotta said.

The consultation is open until Monday, 25 March.

For more information and to make a submission visit Engage Victoria.

Horticultural Netting Program now open
netting over an orchard

Grants of up to $150,000 are available to eligible producers of commercial horticulture crops, excluding wine grapes, to purchase and install new netting over established production areas.

The program now includes a self-installation allowance if you wish to self-install netting.

Applications close 8 April.

For more information about the program visit the Horticultural Netting Grants for Victorian Horticulturalists page on our website.

This program is delivered by the Victorian Government on behalf of the Australian Government.

AgTech podcast - Agtech Innovators Series 2
agtech innovators grants, angels and sidecars with Kate cornick

‘Walk a mile in someone's shoes’, a mantra that also applies when it comes to supporting startups. 

Guy Franklin has walked the path of developing his own tech venture and is now supporting others to do the same. 

Being clear on who your customer is, how big the market is and why this is such a big deal, is some of the advice Guy Franklin provides in this episode of AgTech Innovators. 

Listen online via the AgVic website

Fox and wild dog bounty resumes
Bounty banner image

Victoria’s bounty collections will resume on 4 March 2024.

Please continue to check our website for the latest information, collection centres and dates. CLICK HERE

For any assistance, please speak to our bounty collection staff on collection days or call our Customer Service Centre on 136 186.

In case you missed it

Getting on with the job of disaster cleanup

A lead contractor has been appointed for the Federal and Victorian Government’s coordinated cleanup in the aftermath of last week’s devastating fires and storms.


Citizen scientists hop to it with rabbit virus tracking project

Aussies are urged to join in the longest-running citizen science survey of rabbit diseases in the world, to help keep the costly invasive pest in check.


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.

Victorian Apiarists Association Recreational Beekeepers Conference
victorian apiarists association melbourne, recreational beekeepers conference

Successful beekeeping in challenging times

  • When: March 9
  • TIME: 9 am - 5 pm
  • Where: Victorian Croquet Centre, 65 Nobel Banks Dr, Cairnlea.

This 1-day conference will include live hive demonstrations as well as presentations with an emphasis on meeting the challenges of beekeeping in the presence of varroa. 

Agriculture Victoria apiary team members Nikki Jones and Adam Maxwell will be presenting. 

Book now, places are limited.

Register here.

People management, planning for success - Colac and Hamilton

Beef producers in the Colac and Hamilton areas are invited to a free farm business success workshop with Helen Chenoweth, Agriculture Victoria Business Resilience Officer.

Helen will share her experience and knowledge in employing workers and creating great teamwork on farms, including working with family members.

People management can be challenging if you’re not up to date with the right information. Helen will cover important aspects of employment such as recruitment, legal requirements, wages and superannuation to set you up for success.

Get all the tips and tools to create a productive, positive workplace culture, how to attract and retain staff and how to deal with conflict. Helen will also touch on where to start with succession planning and farm safety.


  • DATE: Tuesday 12 March
  • TIME: 10 am - 2 pm
  • WHERE: Colac Racecourse, 'Dusty Rhodes Bar' 36 Colac-Lavers Hill Road, Elliminyt.


  • DATE: Tuesday 19 March
  • TIME: 10 am - 2 pm
  • WHERE: Agriculture Victoria office, 915 Napier Road, Hamilton
Feed budgets and decision making - Ararat
cam nicholson kneeling in a green paddock

Sheep producers in the Ararat area are invited to a free farm business success workshop with Cam Nicholson, Director of Nicon Rural Services.

Cam is a consultant with over 30 years’ experience in feed budgeting and decision making.

Explore the tools and principles of feeding your sheep, feed budgeting and preparing for the autumn break, managing climate variability and seasonal risks.

Cam is well known for his decision making – setting trigger points for decision making such as knowing what to feed and how to decide when to sell versus supplementary feeding.

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

DATE: Wednesday 13 March

TIME: 10 am -  3 pm

WHERE: Agriculture Victoria, Ararat office, 233-239 Barkly Street, Ararat.


MLA Goat Roadshow Webinar
MLA goat webinar banner image

Tuesday, 19 March at 7 pm.

Are your goats fit to load? Are you planning to sell goats soon?

Make sure you understand your roles and responsibilities in ensuring animals are fit to travel before you start loading.

This free Meat & Livestock Australia Goat Roadshow webinar is designed to provide useful and practical insights on how to ensure your goats are fit to load before transport.

Hear from NSW DPI's Dr Petrea Wait, Agriculture Victoria’s Dr Berwyn Squire and Integrity Systems Company’s Elizabeth Bradley who will provide who will provide an overview of the Fit to Load legislation, plus on-farm advice for ensuring you meet animal welfare obligations, including the importance of checking animals prior to transport, your responsibilities and how to comply with NVD and NLIS requirements.

MLA invites goat producers to join to find out more on:

  • Understanding when an animal is and isn’t fit to make a journey
  • Preparing animals for transport
  • Individual roles and responsibilities in ensuring animal welfare
  • Practical tips and resources available
  • Livestock traceability - understanding LPA requirements around animal welfare, completing NVDs and updating the NLIS database.

Make sure you understand your responsibilities in ensuring compliance with the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for the Land Transport of Livestock.

To register for this webinar, click here

SAVE THE DATE - 2024 Landcare Forum

2024 Landcare forum Wednesday 8, Thursday 9 and Friday 10 May in Bendigo. 

More details to come soon.

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Call 136 186 from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call (except for mobiles and public telephones).

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