New brand of animal rights extremism
Animal rights activists in the United Kingdom are planning to fire brand themselves in a public protest against the practice of cattle branding. Vegan Becky Folkard, 34, told the UK media she will burn the number 269 on three volunteers’ bare chests – leaving them in agony and scarred for life. The number 269 refers to the ear tag on a calf protesters filmed as it was being prepared for sale. “If one person goes away and researches a vegan lifestyle because of this it will have been worth it,” Ms Folkard said. She compared the act to the risk taken by suffragettes to win the right for women to vote. “Females only have a vote now because women chained themselves to railings and ran in front of horses – we have to move with the times.” A spokesperson for the RSPCA said a lot of people would find the act extreme, but “if they want to do it they can.” The protest follows a similar demonstration in Tel Aviv, Israel, which showed men writhing in agony after their skin was seared. Two women and one man will be branded in London March 21 if the protest goes ahead.
Cattle lost to Gippsland fire
Victoria’s Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has confirmed that recent fires in Gippsland resulted in the death of 150 cattle on one property and a number of smaller losses on other properties. DPI Incident Manager Dwane O’Brien said it was possible more livestock losses would be identified in coming days. With the potential for further fire impacts later in the week, the DPI is urging animal owners to get prepared early. "Livestock can be moved onto areas that will minimise fire risk such as ploughed, irrigated or bared out paddocks,” Mr O’Brien said. The DPI said anyone with serious animal welfare concerns was urged to call the DPI Customer Service Centre on 136 186, while further information on preparing for fire for animals or evacuating with animals was available on the DPI website here
Fodder donations to support Gippsland farmers
The Victorian Farmers Federation believes between 160 and 180 Gippsland properties were affected by the recent 50,000ha blaze and is calling for donations to support affected farmers. “The level of stock losses is not yet clear but large amounts of pasture fodder and fencing have been destroyed,” VFF president Peter Tuohey said. Funding provided by the DPI for emergency fodder relief is expected to fill emergency needs for affected farmers in the short term, but further donations will be required. “As animals are stressed it is crucial the fodder is of good quality to ensure the best animal welfare outcomes”. Farmers able to assist with fodder donations, or those seeking emergency fodder, can contact the VFF on 1300 882 833.
Firefighting concept vehivles trialed
A fleet of concept firefighting vehicles is currently being trialed by the Department of Sustainability and Environment in Victoria. The concept vehicle fleet is made up of two new designs for ultra-light tankers based on a Toyota Landcruiser, another ultra-light tanker based on a Mercedes G Wagen, a retrofitted heavy tanker and three new light tanker concepts based on an Isuzu NPS 300. DSE fire tanker review project officer Andrew Gosden said the development of the concept vehicles followed discussions with around 200 people and visits to 12 work centres with staff from 57 depots. “Improvements that have been incorporated include increased crew protection from fire or falling trees, innovative emergency lighting systems, easier to use hose reels, different water pump configurations such as high pressure and low volume, and GPS mapping and tracking,” Mr Gosden said. “Ergonomics and how different colours can be used to enhance crew safety in low visibility situations also figured heavily in the development of the vehicles.” Victorian environment minister Ryan Smith said DSE firefighters worked in some of the most fire-prone bush and forests in the world.
Volunteers to help fire-affected producers rebuild
A volunteer-based organisation is working to assist fire-affected farmers in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania to return to productivity by providing volunteer labour to assist with fence rebuilding. NSW Farmers in conjunction with BlazeAid has set up three camps for volunteers to help fire affected farmers. The first camp at Nimmitabel, south west of Cooma, is expected to be operational on Thursday, January 24, and will help farmers in the area to repair infrastructure. Additional camps will be set up at Coonabarabran (from 28 January) and Bookham west of Yass (also from 28 January). After the 2012 floods 520 volunteers organised by Blazeaid helped 168 farmers to repair 820km of fencing. “It is important for our farmers to realise that help is available and not to be shy about coming forward and taking up generous offers of help. Repairing fences is a tedious job and BlazeAid’s volunteers are highly capable and willing to lend a hand,” NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson said. Volunteers looking to help and farmers seeking help can visit www.blazeaid.com or www.nswfarmers.org.au
Pestivirus workshop for NE Vic cattle producers
Cattle producers in Victoria’s north east can learn more about protecting against herd losses from Pestivirus at a workshop to be held at Walwa from 9am-1pm on Tuesday, February 12. Pestivirus, a disease spread through cattle contact, can cause early abortion, temporary infertility and ill-thrift, as well as decreased milk production. Symptoms can sometimes include diarrhoea, lethargy, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis or a cough. The disease is widespread in Australia, with approximately 90 per cent of herds affected at some point. Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock project officer Zoe Moroz says Pestivirus can be controlled in the herd providing a suitable management plan is in place.“The workshop will cover what the disease is, how to diagnose it, how to vaccinate against it and other strategies to manage Pestivirus in cattle,” Ms Moroz said. Presenters will include Dr John Webb-Ware from Melbourne University’s MacKinnon Project and Dr Neil Charman from Pfizer Animal Health. The cost is $10 for VFF members and $20 for non-members, with lunch included. Please RSVP to Zoe Moroz by Tuesday, 5 February on (03) 9207 5521 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Grants to aid prickly acacia control
Funding of $200,000 has been allocated by the Queensland Government Everyone’s Environment program to help to control prickly acacia on 46 properties in the Julia Creek area and Upper Gilliat River area. Prickly acacia is a weed of national significance, and is found on about 7 million hectares of Queensland. It is easily spread, and has a significant impact on biodiversity and productivity, particularly on the Mitchell Grass Downs. Qld environment minister Andrew Powell said the Nelia Pest Management Group will use $100,000 on 36 properties to control the spread of prickly acacia and reduce the impact of weeds to help rebuild species and ecosystems resilience. The Upper Gilliat Weed Management Group’s grant of $100,000 will fund work on 10 properties in the upper parts of the Gilliat River, a sub-catchment of the Flinders catchment, to assist landholders to undertake strategic weed control. Applications for round two of the Everyone's Environemnt grants will be called for in mid-2013.