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Gippsland Ag New banner; black angus beef cows looking directly
Thursday 1 February 2024
In this edition:
Image of cows in a paddock with the text 'latest ag news'
Mosquito numbers peak
A red background with a cartoon mosquito. The text reads mosquitos 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, 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.
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, or in NSW your Local Land Services.

Want to learn about biosecurity in your backyard?
A woman standing looking at her mobile phone. The text reads 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 2 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.

To subscribe to Backyard Biosecurity, visit our website

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.

Opportunities abound for STEM students in agriculture
Pictured left to right: Bianca Rodrigues-Jardim, Ellen de Vries, Prof Brendan Rodoni, Noel Djitro and Conrad Trollip.

Pictured left to right: 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
A market stall, a table is covered in flowers and jars of jams and spreads. There are people shopping in the background.

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 Friday 16 February 2024 at 11.59 pm. 

To apply for a grant and view program eligibility and guidelines, visit the Vic Grown Regional Activation Grants – Expression of Interest page on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Have your say on Victoria’s new animal protection laws
A blue background with the V for Victoria made out of various animals. The text reads 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 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.

Free financial counselling with RFCS
A person standing in a paddock looking at the sunset. The text reads free financial counselling with the Rural Financial Counselling Service. 1300 771 741.

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. 

To find your closest service visit the Rural Financial Counselling Service website or call 1300 771 741.

In case you missed it
Image of a sunset with the text 'in case you missed it'

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.

Read the full media release here.

Exotic pest found in Melbourne’s south-east

Agriculture Victoria has urged Melburnians to report suspected exotic pest animal sightings following the discovery of an Asian black-spined toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) on Boxing Day.

Read the full media release here.

Controlling soil erosion on farm roads and driveways

Recent storms have caused soil erosion on farm roads, tracks and driveways across Victoria.

Agriculture Victoria Land Management Extension Officer, Clem Sturmfels, said the key to controlling this damage is drainage.

Read the full media release here.

Alligator weed discovered in Warragul and Cranbourne

Landholders, horse and cattle owners in Warragul and Cranbourne are asked to keep watch for alligator weed, one of the world’s most invasive plants.

Read the full media release here.

Keep your canine companions healthy this summer

Victorian travellers are urged to protect their dogs against a serious tick-borne illness.

Read the full media release here. 

Sign up to the Weed Spotter newsletter

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.

What's on
Image of a group of people at an event in a green paddock listening to a presenter with the text 'what's on: online and on-farm events'

Details about Agriculture Victoria events can be found in one spot on our website. Log on to the Events page to keep in touch with upcoming events.

A good day on the farm 

When: Tuesday 6 February, 10:30 am - 2 pm

Where: Traralgon Bowls Club, 50 Liddiard Road, Traralgon

Register here.

Join Dairy Australia for their event, A Good Day on the Farm. Offering you the opportunity to better understand and explore what being emotionally healthy can mean for your effectiveness and performance both on your farm and in your life.

Bringing insights and examples from dairy farmers across Australia and New Zealand of the personal practices they have put in place to create more good days and the impact this has had on both themselves, others, and business performance.

Planning for autumn on farm with Cam Nicholson
GAgG event page for the How to plan for autumn on farm event with Cam Nicholson

When: Wednesday 7 February and Thursday 8 February 

Where: Swifts Creek, Clifton Creek and Bundalaguah. 

Register here.

Stock sense farming essentials webinar series

When: February 14 to March 20, 6 - 7:30 pm

Register here.

Join a 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.

Topics include: 

  • Owning or buying a farm: assessing what you want and have
  • Farm layout and essential facilities
  • Buying animals: what you need to know
  • The first few months – a critical period
  • Animal health, nutrition and welfare
  • The long-term plan – sustaining your farm
Back on track with the National Centre for Farmer Health
Lets get mental health for farmers back on track event poster

When: Thursday February 15, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Where: Duart Homestead, Maffra

Register here. 

When: Thursday February 15, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Where: Tinamba Hotel, Tinamba

Register here.

Agricultural research results dinner and field day
GAgG event poster for the agricultural research results dinner and field day

When: Thursday 15 February, 1 to 5 pm. 

Dinner from 5 pm. 

Where: Gippsland Research Farm Green Shed and Lucknow Football and Netball Club Rooms. 

Register here.

Making sense of carbon and emissions for Victorian farmers
Sheep in a paddock, surrounded by trees. The text reads making sense of carbon and emissions on farm, Tuesday 27 February - 12pm

When: Tuesday 27 February - 12 pm 

Register here.

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 tools and resources they have developed to support the farming communities of Victoria make sense of carbon and emissions on farm.

Business of Farming - Benambra
Business of farming event poster

When: Saturday 24 February

Where: Benambra Hotel 

Register here.

Business of Farming - Bairnsdale
Business of farming event poster

When: Wednesday 28 February

Where: location TBC 

Register here.

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.

Program details and more information to be released throughout 2023.

Find out more here.

Raising the Roof 2024
Cows feeding from a trough with the text: raising the roof 2024, save the date. Hunter Valley, New South Wales. 27-29 February 2024.

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, 2024

Where: Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Tickets available here.

For more information email

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All contact points can be found at:

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