After a bushfire many factors must be considered when assessing burnt livestock.
Frequent assessments on a daily basis is needed after a bushfire event for those animals not killed directly by fire or destroyed due to injuries.
Continued support for the owners will need to be considered and/or provided.
What needs to be considered when assessing livestock
While it's a great relief for owners when their livestock survive a bushfire, factors that need to be considered when assessing burnt livestock include:
immediate and long term welfare of the animals;
severity of burns or injuries;
impact of injuries on productivity;
availability of feed and water;
what facilities are available for sustained care of the animals;
the owners capacity and willingness (physically, emotionally and financially) to provide ongoing care and reassessment of burnt animals.
What should I do if my livestock shows signs of distress?
Livestock showing signs of obvious distress should be immediately treated by a veterinarian or humanely destroyed.
If an animal's condition should deteriorate they will need to receive veterinary treatment or be humanely destroyed.
Any animal that was exposed to smoke inhalation is at risk. If your animals start to show signs of breathing difficulty, seek veterinary advice immediately.
Burns to feet can result in lost hooves or separation of the hoof from the Coronary band. This results in pain and predisposition to flystrike. Stock with hooves that have regrown after a seperation are also more prone to future chronic foot conditions. Any degree of hoof seperation is a trigger for euthanasia.
Fire affected stock will need to be placed on the softest, most level ground available to facilitate healing. High protein foods such as lucerne should be provided to the animals.
Great care will be required to ensure that flystrike is treated early. Any wound from the fire is a risk for flystrike and the risk is much greater with any animal that has a fleece (i.e. sheep, angora goats or alpacas).
Examining sheep after a bushfire
Sheep in particular need to be closely examined and turned up for close inspection.
The face, ears, lips, anus, vulva, teats, penis, prepuce, scrotum, axilla (armpits) inguinal areas, legs and feet must be closely examined.
Be aware that singed wool is not always a good indicator of severity of a sheep’s wounds.
Due to the increase in wildlife and/or domestic animal carcasses around after a bushfire, the number of blowflies is likely to increase.
Daily re-examination and reassessment will be required for at least the first week after a fire. Then inspection at least 2-3 times weekly for a further 2-3 weeks will be required.
Due to confinement internal parasites may also be a problem especially after rain.
The supply of clean water and quality feed is essential for post fire recovery of burnt animals.
For more detailed animal welfare information visit the NSW DPI website:
Assessing Bush Fire Burns in Livestock