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Protecting livestock during fire season


Bushfire threats have become an increasing concern over recent years, with fire seasons beginning earlier and lasting longer. Australian farmers know all too well that fires are a natural part of the Australian ecosystem.

When the weather warms up and the fire season begins, the risk of fires starting and spreading across farmland increases. Fires have the potential to cause severe damage to properties, livestock and livelihoods. That’s why it’s important to consider preparing a fire safety plan and to think about how you can protect the welfare of your livestock in the event of a fire.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries advises that to help protect your livestock in the event of a fire, it is important to prepare an emergency plan that includes your livestock. This plan should consider, among other things, if you have a safe area on your property for your livestock and if you have any transport options and routes to relocate any of your livestock in the event of a fire.

To help protect your livestock during the fire season, set out below are some considerations to be mindful of when preparing your fire safety plan to protect your livestock in the event of a fire.

Scope out low risk areas

A common way to protect livestock from fires is to identify and prepare one or more ‘low risk areas’ on your property - a low risk area is a designated area where you may be able to move your livestock in the event of a fire. A ‘low risk area’ will typically work best when it is:

- located centrally and easy to access, with plenty of drinking water,

- located away from areas of scrub or bush or large enough to allow livestock to move away from scrub or bushland, protected by laneways or ploughed firebreaks, and free of leaves, twigs, bark and other build up.

When choosing a location of a low-risk area, you should also consider the:

- terrain, accessibility, most likely direction of the fire threat, and location of forests and bushland.

If you have a large property with lots of stock, it might be worthwhile preparing several low risk areas to accommodate each mob of animals, noting that different types of animals may need different types of plans.

Temporarily relocating livestock

Be sure to consider if you might be able to temporarily relocate any of your animals to keep them out of harm’s way if a fire happens.

Some temporary relocation options may include showgrounds, sale yards, parks, racetracks, pony club grounds or placing your animals with family and friends.

It is also important to consider if you have access to suitable transport and possible retreat routes from your property (particularly if any fires block your escape routes).

Check fences are secure

Consider checking that your property boundary fences are secure and stock proof without electricity, as power to electric fences often shuts off during fires.

For obvious safety reasons, Agriculture Victoria advise not to cut any fences along roadsides, as loose stock on roads may cause accidents during a fire, particularly when visibility is low due to smoke haze

Be prepared by protecting your livestock

You may want to ensure that your livestock is adequately insured in case the unexpected happens.

At WFI, we have a livestock policy with a range of options that you can choose to find the cover that is right for you. To find out more, consider contacting your local WFI Area Manager or call 1300 934 934.

When making a claim related to the loss or death of your animals, WFI does not require a physical inspection of injured livestock prior to an animal being put down due to fire injuries. However, we do advise the following to clients who contact us about livestock injured by fire:

- Where possible, take photographs of the condition of livestock.

- Take action to ensure injured or suffering animals are dealt with humanely, including their immediate destruction if this is deemed necessary.

- Keep a record of the number of livestock and disposal details so that the loss adjuster appointed by WFI can verify this information upon arrival.

In the case of livestock being destroyed in a fire or humane destruction as set out above, WFI does not need ear tags and NLIS buttons, however a stock inventory may be requested during the claim process.

This is general advice only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs (“your personal circumstances”). Before using this advice to decide whether to purchase a product, you should consider your personal circumstances and the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations available from the product issuer, Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 AFSL 227681 trading as WFI.