Bushfires are a consistent feature of Australia’s environment. While risk management strategies and the effects of bushfire on people and communities are relatively well understood, much less is known about how bushfire affects grazing livestock beyond the loss of severely burnt animals. Limited evidence is available to inform strategies for red meat producers to reduce the extent of livestock injury and loss in the event of a bushfire and, once a bushfire has occurred, minimise ongoing impacts on the enterprise.
An in-depth survey of herd and flock managers affected in the 2019-2020 fire season, along with an online survey of a wider audience and an expert opinion workshop, will be conducted to document bushfire preparedness strategies and identify approaches associated with improved physical and financial recovery.
The project will provide a valuable resource for future fire seasons in the form of a ‘Livestock Wellbeing Bushfire Preparation and Recovery Manual’ for producers. This will fill an important gap by providing best-practice recommendations for stock exposed to Australian bushfire conditions.
Contact the team
- Publication of a Livestock Wellbeing Bushfire Preparation and Recovery Manual
The main output from this project is the publication of a ‘Livestock Wellbeing Bushfire Preparation and Recovery Manual’ for producers. This manual will fill an important gap, providing information and recommendations about animal health, welfare, meat quality, biosecurity and post-fire recovery on bushfire-affected farms. The results of specific studies in the project will be published as articles in refereed journals.
- Adoption of recommendations
Uptake of recommendations from the ‘Livestock Wellbeing Bushfire Preparation and Recovery Manual’. Adoption of recommendations from the final report (producer manual) is expected to commence in late 2021, prior to the 2021-22 bushfire season.
Funding and partners
The University of Melbourne acknowledges its partners in this project:
Ausvet provides global consulting services in epidemiology, disease surveillance, health information systems, biosecurity, risk assessment, research and data analysis and project management.
Faculty of Science, the University of Sydney
The University of Sydney has a broad and globally recognised expertise in research across four veterinary science themes: production animals, companion animals, wildlife and One Health.
Dr Caitlin Pfeiffer
Lecturer In Veterinary Epidemiology (One Health)
Caitlin Pfeiffer's research is focussed on veterinary epidemiology, emerging infectious diseases and spatial epidemiology (how health problems are distributed across landscapes) in both human and animal health. Her recent work includes projects that focus on mapping emerging infectious disease risk, delivering training for capacity building in South-East Asia, the health and welfare of Australian livestock and wildlife in bushfire response and recovery, and online learning design and delivery.
Dr Megan Thomas
Megan Thomas is an experienced veterinarian with a background including dairy and red meat industries. She worked full-time as a primary care veterinarian in a mixed practice (dairy cattle and small animals) in West Gippsland until April 2014. From 2014 until 2019 she worked towards a PhD on a project investigating the effect of joint defects on the surrounding cartilage and bone in an equine model.
Dr Carolina Munoz Gallardo
Postdocoral Resarch Fellow (Ruminant Livestock)
Carolina Munoz is an experienced researcher in animal welfare science extended to pigs, poultry, cattle and sheep sectors. She is current appointed as a post-doc research fellow in animal welfare, contributing to a research program on the benefits and costs of ceasing mulesing in prime lamb systems, while also examining the key drivers for farmer behaviour towards continuation of mulesing prime lambs’ dams, and possible barriers for behavioural change towards mulesing-free systems..
Dr John Webb Ware
Senior Lecturer (Production Animal and Farm Management)
John Webb Ware is a veterinarian and senior consultant with the University of Melbourne's Mackinnon Project. He advises to primary producers throughout south eastern Australia on all aspect of farm management and production including farm systems and farm economics where the objective is to maximise profitability. He also consults widely to agribusiness and is a member of various farm management and agriculture related boards.
Professor Peter Mansell
Professor – Cattle
Peter Mansell is a Professor in cattle medicine and husbandry, with senior responsibility for administration, teaching and examination of those aspects of the veterinary curriculum. He was also the President of the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria (2016 to 2019). He has been contracted to author or co-author 15 commissioned reports to industry and government bodies relating to topics of product registration, safety or efficacy, or as an independent reviewer of projects or industry reports.
Professor Andrew Fisher
Chair of Cattle and Sheep Production Medicine
Andrew Fisher has published extensively on animal welfare issues relating to sheep and cattle production. He has led or been part of research teams providing research on improving animal welfare during transport, reducing the pain of husbandry procedures (including mulesing), and on dairy cow and calf health and welfare. He has contributed to policy and extension through involvement as a member of the writing and reference groups for the sheep welfare standards and guidelines.
Professor Mark Stevenson
Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology (One Health)
Mark Stevenson has worked as an epidemiologist for the past 20 years accumulating a broad range of experience in the investigation of disease and production shortfalls at the farm, national and international levels. Key areas of interest are spatial epidemiology where he is co-author of one of the subject area’s key textbooks used for postgraduate teaching.
Dr Simon Firestone
Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health
Simon Firestone has worked as a veterinary and public health epidemiologist developing zoonoses surveillance and investigating outbreaks of foodborne and zoonotic disease in Australia, Indonesia and Cambodia. He coordinates and teaches into the online Master of Veterinary Public Health and is active in research into the spatio-temporal analysis of disease spread in populations and risk factor studies into outbreaks and zoonotic diseases including Q fever, equine influenza, salmonellosis, Ross River virus and bovine Theileriosis.
Professor Robyn Warner
Professor of Meat Science
Robyn Warner has received international and national awards for her role on the Meat Standards Australia food grading scheme. She is Australia’s contact person for the Annual International Congress of Meat Science and Technology and her areas of interest and expertise include packaging interventions and smart packaging, consumer sensory perceptions as well as fundamental investigations of the biology biochemistry and biophysics of muscle and food in determining tenderness, colour, flavour and shelf-life.