Local Land Services estimates between 10,000 and 12,000 livestock were killed during the recent Dunns Road Fire, with many more sold off due to drought and pasture loss.
“It’s pretty significant,” said the Riverina LLS’ Acting General Manager, Ray Willis.
To help farmers recover, a series of workshops will be held in the coming weeks, with sessions on livestock planning, pasture recovery and market updates.
Mr Willis said the LLS has also been connecting landholders with the Rural Financial Counselling Service and Rural Resilience officers.
The LLS was one of the first official agencies to enter burned areas of the Snowy Valleys LGA, helping stock owners to assess their herds and euthanise animals which couldn’t survive their burns. LLS staff also helped bury many of those animals.
“I don’t think you can train staff for a fire of this magnitude and scale,” said Mr Willis, “but they certainly have got the skills and experience and training and they have been through previous smaller-scale events to understand the nature of what they’re doing.
“But when you add people into that equation it is much more difficult.”
During the immediate fire response, there was little time for fire victims to sit and think about what to do. Mr Willis said farmers had to make a lot of big decisions quickly, including which stock to euthanise and which to save.
“It was their stock, which is a much more difficult scenario to try to deal with.
“They’re trying to make the right decision. Our role was just to help them make the correct call at the time and do what’s best for the animal.
“Landholders were extremely thankful for our support and we were only too happy to offer our support and help them out.”
As farmers and government/agency employees start to recover from the strain of the fire, the LLS is mindful of the mental health of every person involved.
“We had counselling available both online and in person,” said Mr Willis.
“We had counsellors actually come to all the control centres and did a walk through and spoke to individuals.”
Mr Willis said the LLS has also used rostering to make sure that staff on the front lines have had some leave “to give them a bit of down time and recover themselves, but they’re still very busy doing recovery meetings and getting landholders back on their feet.”
The LLS workshops in March will be held in five locations.
Local Land Services March Workshops
Livestock Planning with Phil Graham (Consultant)
Pasture Recovery Lisa Castleman (LLS)
Livestock Market Update (Meat and Livestock Australia, co-sponsor of the workshops)
10th of March from 12:30-3:30pm at ‘Karoo,’ 371 Jingellic Rd.
Host landholders are Peter and Mary Hoodless.
11th of March from 8:30-11:30am at ‘Kooyong,’ 350 Lower Mannus Ck Road.
Host landholder is Lee McColl.
11th March from 12:30-3:30pm at ‘Grassmere,’ 179 East Burra Ck Road.
Host landholder is John Bauer.
12th March from 8:30-11:30am at the Yaven Creek fire shed.