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Dr Lou Baskind, the District Veterinarian from South East Local Land Services in Braidwood, discussed weeds, livestock and how pasture plants can be poisonous to ruminant livestock in some conditions. Temperature, rainfall and the plant’s lifecycle can influence the amount of poisonous compounds in a plant. Other plants have inherent physical and chemical properties that are poisonous.
Download a copy of the slides from the presentation
The three common problems that weeds can cause in livestock are:
St John’s Wort poisioning
Bracken fern poisoning
Australia’s poisonous plants, McKenzie, R 2012
NSW DPI Weeds Wise App
Vaccinations can help prevent common sheep diseases when used correctly. They have the potential to improve sheep health across the region for all farms, small and large. A key element in deciding which vaccines are useful on your farm is to find out the risk of particular diseases in the local district and the past history of your property.
Many vaccines require two doses for the vaccination to be effective followed up with annual boosters. Specific recommendations for effective vaccination can be found in the manufacturer’s instructions for each vaccine along with information about storage conditions and the length of time that the vaccine can be used after opening.
Correct injection technique and sterile, clean needles are required both to deliver an effective vaccination and to protect sheep and people from adverse side effects. Used syringes and needles need to be disposed of safely. For more information about injection techniques in Making More From Sheep: Sheep Husbandry Practices.
Vaccines can help prevent the following diseases of sheep in Australia. The information provided below is general in nature. It is strongly recommended that you consult your vet or animal health advisor before carrying out a vaccination program.
Commentary marked with * was provided by Alex Stephens, District Veterinarian, South East Local Land Services in July 2020.
Tetnus, Black Leg, Black Disease, Malignant Oedema and Pulpy Kidney (Clostridial diseases)
5-in-1 vaccination – typically given as a primer dose at lamb marking followed by a booster dose four to six weeks later and then an annual booster dose. Various brands available.
This vaccine is widely used throughout Australia and is usually the one being referred to when people say that their sheep are vaccinated.
* Booster vaccinations are recommended to be given more often, every three months in high risk situations, particularly to younger stock. Boosters are also recommended to be given at other high risk times such as grazing high risk pastures and crops and at the start of a flush of green grass after a long dry spell.
MLA Clostridial Diseases information
Agriculture Victoria Clostridial Diseases
6-in-1 vaccination – covers same diseases as 5-in1 as well as Cheesy Gland and has similar vaccination regime. Various brands available.
* Cheesy gland is an endemic disease in the Capital Region so Alex Stephens advised use of 6-in-1 rather than 5-in-1 for the initial vaccinations and annual booster. Use 5-in-1 if you are giving the extra boosters in high risk situations mentioned above to manage a higher clostridial risk.
NSW DPI Fact Sheet Cheesy Gland
Johnes Disease Gudair vaccination – single dose lifetime vaccination given to lambs.
* The Capital Region is one of the highest endemic areas for Ovine Johne’s Disease. Alex Stephens advised that this vaccination is given to any sheep that are going to be kept to be greater than 2 years of age (ie. breeding stock or wethers).
MLA Australia Gudair information
DPI Johnes Disease Fact Sheet
Eryvac and Eryguard are brands of vaccine – primer and booster dose for lambs then annual vaccination.
* This vaccine is given in response to a diagnosis of this bacterial cause of arthritis on a property. This disease has been diagnosed and vaccinated against in the Capital Region. Where properties are getting higher rates of arthritis an investigation and diagnosis is advised.
Scabby Mouth Scabigard is a vaccine option – single dose given to lambs.
*Scabby Mouth is a common viral disease seen in the Capital Region. It is present in some flocks and not in others. It is only advisable to vaccinate against this disease as a disease control measure if it is present on your property, as vaccination (with the live vaccine) will introduce the disease to your property. It is a nasty disease and vaccination is an effective control measure.
DPI Scabby Mouth Fact Sheet
Barbers Pole WormBarberVax – a vaccine option where Barbers Pole worms are prevalent and resistant to drenches.
* Fortunately in the Capital Region we can still use strategic drenching with effective drenches to control Barbers Pole Worm. This is a very effective vaccine and should be considered where producers want or need to drench less or they have significant resistance issues. This vaccine has not had a high uptake in this area so you may need to order it in in advance and courier fees may apply.
WormBoss Barbers Pole Worm
CampylobacterOvilis Campyvax – where abortions and still born lambs have been caused by Campylobacter infection. Initial primer and booster dose followed by annual booster given to ewes before joining.
* Campylobacter is a prevalent disease is the Capital Region. The vaccine is reasonably new. Uptake of this vaccine has been higher in recent years, reflecting higher sheep prices and research showing the disease to be quite prevalent in the area. Abortions are more likely to be seen when sheep are being held more closely together and eating from the ground, such as during drought feeding times. See the link for a local case study.
Campylobacter case study
Anthrax Anthrax vaccine – annual vaccination which requires authorisation in NSW by Local Land Services.
Anthrax is a serious and usually fatal. It is a notifiable disease in NSW. It typically occurs in an area through the centre of NSW and into Victoria.
* The Capital Region is not within the Anthrax belt/zone and so vaccination against Anthrax would not be advised. Vaccination is usually done in response to control of an outbreak, which would most usually occur within the Anthrax zone
More information on anthrax
To contact your local District Veterinarian in NSW, visit NSW Local Land Service Contact us
This post was reviewed by Alex Stephens, the District Veterinarian from South East Local Land Services (SELLS). Alex works at the Yass SELLS office.
In this webinar Alastair Rayner from Rayner Ag discussed sheep nutrition, how to use the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Drought and Supplementary Feed Calculator app, biosecurity and the National Vendor Declaration Scheme. The webinar was recorded on 10 June 2020.
You can watch the webinar recording on the Small Farms Network Capital Region YouTube Channel.
Key points from the webinar:
Other useful websites
Agriculture Victoria - Trace minerals in sheep
Sheep Connect - Pasture assessment skills and feed management
WormBoss control program for non-seasonal rainfall areas in NSW
This webinar covered the information for people thinking of keeping production poultry on a small scale for eggs, meat or live chicken sales. The webinar was recorded on Saturday 27 June 2020 and features Dr Lou Baskind, District Veterinarian from South East Local Land Services, and Wendy Hutton, a chicken farmer from just outside Canberra.
Watch the webinar recording
Biosecurity Checklist for Poultry Keeping (a simple guide from DPI Tasmania)
NSW DPI Guidelines for Poultry Biosecurity
Despite good rainfall in many areas since autumn, some patches of soil are still bare. Dr Jason Condon from Charles Sturt University explained how soil acidity can be a factor driving poor ground cover in pastures. Jennie Curtis, a small farmer from the Capital Region, showed us some of the bare patches at her place.
The webinar recorded on Saturday 4 July 2020 will help you to develop an understanding of soil acidity including the causes and influence of soil acidity on plants and the landscape. Simple methods to diagnose soil acidity are explained. Addressing soil acidity may be a useful step in filling the bare patches on your land.
1. Soil pH is a measure of hydrogen ions in the soil. The most commonly used pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. As the number goes down from 7 (ie. 6, 5, 4...) the soil acidity increases while values above 7 are alkaline. In the Capital Region many soils are acidic. Soil pH can be measured in the field using a test kit or by sending a sample to a laboratory for more accurate results. The pH (CaCl2) test is the more accurate of the two pH tests, as it reflects what the plant experiences in the soil. The values of pH (CaCl2) are normally lower than pH(w) by 0.5 to 0.9. A simple pH soil testing kit from the rural shop measures pH in water.
NSW DPI Understanding Soil pH
NSW DPI Soil Acidity and Liming
2. Agriculture involves removing plant material either by harvesting plants or grazing plants and this process acidifies soils. To counteract this you need to get to know what the problems are for your soils.
3. If your soil is pH 5 or lower, the percentage of available Aluminum is more likely to be at levels that are toxic to plants. High Aluminium reduces root growth and stops cellular growth at the root tip - the roots will be short and stumpy. Where % Aluminium is high, Magnesium and Calcium are leeched away from the root zone.
4. Soil acidity is not uniform down through a soil profile so the pH results from a 0-10cm soil test won't give you the full story. Often the pH at the surface where plants are growing is higher and then the soil is more acidic further down. A dig stick can be used with pH indicator powder from a pH test kit to show the range of acidity in your soil profile (see photo below where the pH in water is being tested).
5. When you get a soil test done, only pay for what you need. A simple soil test should include soil pH, electrical conductivity, available phosphorus, cation exchange capacity, % Aluminium and organic carbon.
6. Lime is akaline and can be used to adjust soil pH. It is not an annual fertiliser. Soil tests should be used to identify the need for lime and the effects of applying lime can take a long time to be seen. In acidic soils, research suggests that lime moves down through the soil profile best when a target pH of 5.5 is used. This often requires a high initial application rate followed by small top ups every few years for maintenance of a target pH of 5.5. This approach allows lime to be applied on the surface or in relatively shallow seed furrows and to move down through the soil profile without cultivation of the soil. Monitoring your soil is essential for finding our what works on your farm.
7. Plain lime is best for surface application. Prilled lime can have a good effect when applied in seed rows or riplines but generally is not as effective as regular lime when applied on the surface.
This project is supported by South East Local Land Services, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
Dr Lou Baskind, District Veterinarian Form South East Local Land Services, joined the small farms network for a webinar about keeping backyard chickens.
UPDATE: Pestene Insect Powder is a registered chemical for lice in chickens and can be safely used. Pestene is best used as a preventative and can be added to the dust bathing area or directly applied to the chickens.
Registered chemicals for poultry
Registered for laying poultry
Pestene (sulphur and rotenone dusting powder)
Avitrol Bird Mite and Lice Spray
Avian Insect Liquidator
(ornamental and caged birds)
Fido's Fre-Itch Rinse Concentrate for Dogs and Cats
Fipronil (Frontline Spray Flea and Tick Control for Cats and Dogs)
Essentials for Backyard Chicken Keeping and Health by Dr Lou Baskind
DIY rodent free chicken feeder from Gardening Australia
NSW Department of Primary Industries Poultry Fact Sheets
The Queeensland Department of Industry has published a series of articles relating to poultry diseases and health. Follow the links below to find out more information.
Moulting and the laying hen
Feather loss not related to moulting
This workshop examined rural landscape issues emerging as a result of prolonged drought and recent bushfires. The workshop was held in Bombay, just south of Braidwood.
Led by Andy Taylor from South East Local Land Services (SELLS) in Braidwood, the workshop was an opportunity for local farmers learn about actions they can take to mitigate the effects of erosion. We also learnt from Judy Carmody about the support available from the Rural Mental Health Resilience Program and Felicity Sturgiss, Senior Land Services Officer (SELLS), talked to us about ways to support wildlife after fires.
Andy Taylor has written a handy guide to managing erosion after fire.
Jane Ambrose from Upper Shoalhaven Landcare talked about Landcare in the area and how to get involved in the projects they run. Jane kindly agreed to share her notes from the workshop.
Key points from the workshop were:
Branches create a planting niche
Using old lucerne hay under jute matting to slow down water
Jute matting with seed spread over the top
Felicity and Andy reiterated the importance of biosecurity when planning erosion works and when feeding wildlife. For example, use straw or other inert materials for erosion management rather than hay or materials containing seed to prevent the spread of weeds. Seek appropriate advice on what to feed wildlife in fire affected areas and avoid feeding meadow hay that could accidentally introduce weeds.
The following are links to more information:
Understanding the impact of the 2020 fires
Building a sediment fence
Pasture recovery after fire
Fire retardant plant list from Yarralumla Nursery (but remember all plants can burn)
Bushfire Customer Care NSW Government
Healing the land techniques for managing erosion workshop summary
The Small Farms Network Capital Region received funding from the Every Bit Counts project. The Every Bit Counts project has been funded by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.
The network’s very first webinar was a discussion about sheep handling on small farms. Things like yard setup, weighing sheep and feeding out can be done in many ways. The scale of small farm operations means that producers need to find cost-effective, practical solutions to everyday sheep handling tasks that our larger farming cousins take for granted. Sometimes these solutions can be slower to carry out but when there are only a few sheep, this is not necessarily a problem.
This webinar, presented by Jennie Curtis from Roogulli Farm, was a chance for small farmers to see some ideas for sheep handling equipment, learn from each other and ask questions.
Jennie, with assistance from Alice McGlashan, created a video showing ideas for yards for small flocks, a way to weigh sheep, a method for tipping sheep up and a variety of feeders.
Watch the video
Weigh bars and race set up
Homemade sheep feeder
Download design for sheep hay and pellet feeder used at Roogulli Farm (based on many others found in Google searches)
For general principles of yard design and the U-Bugle design in particular see The ‘U’ bugle sheep yard from NSW DPI.
Thank you to Jennie Curtis, Alice McGlashan and Chris Curtis for assisting with this webinar and donating their time.
A vision splendid, a place filled with trees and koalas, while the rivers teamed with fish and platypus. From the historical records this is what Bungendore would have looked like to the early European settlers who arrived in 1820. It was the country of the Ngunawal people and to this day a culturally significant place for their descendants.
This workshop was about stories of past times, honouring Aboriginal and early European history, while learning the importance of the fragmented vegetation that remains. The guest speakers were Wally Bell, Karen Williams and Jasmyn Lynch.
Wally Bell is a Ngunawal man from the Yharr clan group and a Traditional Custodian of the Ngunawal. Wally welcomed us to his country and called upon the spirits to guide and protect us during our visit to Day’s Hill Reserve in Bungendore. Wally’s story telling about the local area was moving. He talked about Budjabulya the creator and water spirit who lives in Lake Ngungara (renamed Lake George). Ngunawal people believe that since the beginning of time this spirit has nurtured the Ngunawal people and created the lakes, rivers, valleys, people, animal and plants.
Wally talked about the importance of Mother Earth to him and how we can all play an important role in restoring and healing the land. Wally’s advice is to sit, observe and listen to the land on which you live. Respect it and look after it because land is a gift.
Wally also emphasised the importance of scar trees and how they were used as directional markers. Often they were located up high so people could see them from a distance.
We looked at some Aboriginal stone artefacts and asked a lot of questions about what to look out for on our own properties. Wally told us that Aboriginal artefacts retain the spirit of the person who made them and must be left in the location where they are found.
Karen Williams shared her knowledge of the early European history of the area, including a story about the first explorer in 1820, Joseph Wild. Jasmyn Lynch talked about the fragmented native vegetation that remains, including nationally threatened ecosystems such as the Temperate Grassland of the Southern Highlands, White Box, Yellow Box and Blakely’s Red Gum Woodland.
You can download a copy of Ngunawal-stories-of-Lake-George-2019, the handout prepared by the speakers. The notes include a comprehensive list of online resources.
Read more about the Aboriginal history and culture of the Canberra region by the Buru Ngunawal Aboriginal Corporation.
We all know that water is essential for life and making every drop count, especially during drought, is essential. How to maximise water harvesting and efficient irrigation methods was the focus of this workshop.
Two successful market gardeners from Canberra’s rural outskirts, Chris Curtis from Roogulli Farm and Geoff Foster from Jerabutt Organics showed us how they manage water and grow enough to sell at the local farmers market. Planning effectively for water resources on small farms is challenging. Running a commercial small-scale enterprise is a remarkable achievement during drought. Geoff and Chris manage to do both.
Chris Curtis has written two fact sheets on how to design a small-scale drip irrigation system and how much water to apply to different crops.:
Secure your water supply from the threat of bushfire. Geoff demonstrated his bore and pump set up with a backup generator if the power is cut. Geoff has designed the system so that the water used for firefighting can be sourced from the bore or the house tanks via gravity feed. There is a sprinkler system that surrounds the western fire sector of the house including one on the top of the bore shed.
Always use a tap timer so you don’t accidentally drain your tanks. Buy the cheapest tap timer you can because they are not very durable. Tap timers are suitable for low pressure set ups and automating the irrigation of garden beds.
When you dig a trench for irrigation consider laying an extra pipe for future upgrades. Geoff has a duel irrigation system from the bore and tanks. Two lines have been run in the same trench so if one water source dries up a back-up supply can be used.
You can fit your garden beds with two types of irrigation. Geoff uses fine sprays to establish seeds and seedlings. Once the plant roots have grown, pressure-compensating drip irrigation is put onto the beds.
Water NSW Farm Dam Handbook
How to calculate how much rainfall you can collect from a house roof
This project received grant funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program.
Small Farms Network Capital Region IncPO Box 313BungendoreNSW 2621