With searing temperatures in December combined with prolonged dry spells across the region, conditions are considered ideal for the outbreak of wildfires.
In the wake of the Black Saturday fires of 2009, GippsDairy, Dairy Australia and the CFA produced a comprehensive guide to help dairy farmers prepare for the fire season and recover quickly in the event of bushfires damaging their farm infrastructure.
Preparing Your Dairy Farm for Fire Threat offers advice on everything from saving the family home to ensuring there is enough feed left on the property after the fire-front has passed.
GippsDairy regional manager Allan Cameron urged farmers to access the online bushfire resource or contact GippsDairy to have a hard copy sent out.
``It only seems like yesterday that Black Saturday took its tragic toll on Victoria – and we all know bushfire remains a very real threat, especially with the climate and conditions we have this year,’’ he said.
``Dairy farmers have particular needs when it comes to bushfire recovery, with animal welfare and milking equipment a particular priority.
``Taking the time to get involved with bushfire preparedness could make all the difference if your farm is affected by fire this summer.’’
West Gippsland dairy farmer John Versteden has first-hand knowledge of the devastating effects of bushfires on dairy properties.
His Labertouche farm was burnt during Black Saturday, leaving Mr Versteden wondering if he could have done more to prepare for the fires.
``I wish we had a guide like this to help us get ready for what happened in 2009,’’ Mr Versteden said.
``Knowing what can be done prior to the fire danger season could be the difference between coming through a fire relatively unscathed or losing buildings, stock or even lives.’’
Preparing Your Dairy Farm for Fire Threat urges dairy farmers to consider a three-stage plan involving preparation, response and recovery.
Among suggestions for protecting dairy farms are:
· Identifying a bare ground or summer crop refuge paddock for stock.
· Storing silage stocks in different places to reduce feed losses.
· Ensuring water supplies are available and pumps are working.
· Discing or planting summer crops around buildings to create a fire barrier.
· Marking cows to ensure a quick return to milking if the herd becomes mixed.
· Having alternative power supplies available for milking and refrigeration.
``We all know what happened on Black Saturday, but we all now have the chance to learn the lessons of that tragedy and do everything in our power to look after ourselves, our families, our staff and our farms,’’ Mr Versteden said.
Preparing Your Dairy Farm for Fire Threat was produced using dairy service levy funds. To download a copy, go to www.dairyaustralia.com.au and search ‘fire’ or to obtain a hard copy call GippsDairy on 5624 3900.