Working Farms

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Working Farms

The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions. Click here for full Terms of Use.

Where can I find advice about Australian plague locusts?

Most State & Territory Government’s offer information specific to your state and industry that assists with the management of pests like locusts.

Landholders should be aware that locusts can have an impact on agriculture in any given season, so it’s important to monitor your farm and respond urgently.

Industry based fact sheets can be downloaded here.

Where can I find advice about animal health and disease management?

Landholders are obliged to take all necessary steps to mitigate the economic and social effects of disease and chemical residues.

Standards may vary nationally but related information, applicable in Victoria, may be found here:

What steps should I take to care for animals in hot weather?

Australian summers can create significant heat stress for animals. There’s also the enhanced risk of bushfires.

Planning well ahead by keeping a watchful eye on forecasts will help you to better manage animals so that they have sufficient access to shade and water during hot weather.

First National’s Rural Specialists offer the following tips to help you keep animals safe and more comfortable:
  • Make sure there’s a plentiful supply of clean, cool water and shade
  • Water troughs must allow easy access for multiple animals at once
  • Water troughs should be fixed in position so they can’t be easily overturned
  • Unless you can check troughs regularly, install automated, reticulated systems
  • Make sure stock are familiar with watering points, especially young animals have
  • Don’t tether animals where they cannot move themselves to shade
  • Ensure all animal enclosures have an area that is shaded all day long
  • Construct shelters from shade cloth, corrugated iron or timber
  • Plant trees with large canopies in all fields
  • Move stock to areas where undulating paddocks and gullies provide shelter
  • Move pets and small animals to cool areas of your house or sheds
When choosing shelters, make sure there’s enough room for all animals at once and that animals can lie down. This helps with cooling. Keep an eye on the behaviour of your animals as they may huddle together, even though other shelters and shade areas are available to them.
Pigs and cattle may be cooled with water sprinklers.

Can I move animals in hot weather?

Moving animals in hot weather can cause them additional heat stress.

With cattle, for example, research shows movement and handling can increase their body temperature by 0.5 to 3.5 degrees Celsius. This can cause production losses with livestock and affect their normal functioning.

It is recommended that you move animals during the cooler hours, in the morning or evening.

Are some animals more at risk than others in hot weather?

Yes, most certainly. Animals more easily heat stressed include:
  • Young animals
  • Sick animals or those with previous respiratory diseases
  • Dark coloured animals
Different species also have their specific challenges:
  • Pigs are subject to sunburn and become heat stressed at lower temperatures
  • Newly shorn sheep can suffer sunburn
  • High producing dairy cows are more affected
  • Lactating cattle are more affected
  • Black coloured beef cattle
  • Holsteins are less heat tolerant than Jersey cows
  • British sheep and cattle breeds are not as tolerant as merino or tropical beef breeds
  • Cattle over 450kg are more affected
  • Sheep and goats are more susceptible to heat than cattle, alpacas and llamas

Should working dogs be given the day off in hot weather?

It’s better if working dogs can avoid extreme heat conditions, however, sometimes their assistance is vital to the welfare of other farm animals. When that’s the case, First National Rural Specialists recommend the following do’s and don’ts.

  • Provide regular breaks as well as access to shade and cool, clear water
  • Offer small amounts of water often
  • Carry water with you
  • Put ice cubes in dog water bowls to keep water cool
  • Leave dogs tied up in the back of your ute in the sun
  • Leave dogs in parked cars in the sun, even with the windows open
  • Place metal dog kennels in the sun
  • Leave your dog standing on paved areas (their bodies are closer to the ground and heat up quickly)

What are the signs of heat stress with working dogs?

If your dog is heat stressed, you may see any of the following symptoms:
  • Dry nose – dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Collapse
Please stop it working immediately and do the following:
  • Put the dog in the nearest water trough or suitable body of water, up to its chest, to cool its entire body down rapidly. Monitor the dog and do not leave it alone in the water
  • If you can’t immerse the dog in water, wet it completely with a hose or gently pour water from a bucket over it
  • Place the dog in the shade in a cool breeze with fresh, cool water and contact a vet if it does not respond quickly

What regulations or legislation affects the use of chemicals on farms?

Commonwealth and State Governments regulate agricultural and veterinary chemicals throughout Australia.

It is essential that you familiarise yourself with your obligations as the consequences of miss-use can be devastating to animals, wildlife, and neighbouring agricultural enterprise.

First National’s Rural Specialists recommend you contact the relevant authority in your State or Territory for advice.

What regulations or legislation affects the use of baits on farms?

Commonwealth and State Governments regulate the use of baits throughout Australia.

It is essential that you familiarise yourself with your obligations and the directions for use with each type of bait.

The consequences of miss-use can be devastating to domestic animals, livestock and wildlife.

First National’s Rural Specialists recommend you contact the relevant authority in your State or Territory for advice.

What are the basics of organic farming?

Organic farming is all about working in with the environment to achieve desired results, rather than the total suppression of nature’s challenges.

Fertilizers and chemicals are limited or totally excluded, so soil health becomes a vital element that must be carefully managed. Weeds must be tolerated and managed, but not eliminated.

In essence, the basics involve:
  • Achieving healthy soil without chemicals
  • Managing mildews, fruit flies and scale insects in citrus
  • Managing internal parasites with sheep
  • Managing other pests and diseases without chemicals and drugs
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