Farmers are reminded to ensure they provide adequate shelter for their livestock if there are severe weather events forecast over the remainder of summer.

Agriculture Victoria principal veterinary officer Dianne Phillips said localised severe weather during January had seen a higher number of deaths in vulnerable livestock in some areas of Victoria.

“Severe weather can include high winds, concentrated rainfall and/or hail and sudden temperature changes, which can impact livestock even in the warmer months of summer,” Dr Phillips said.

She said vulnerable groups of livestock were those which were more prone to the effects of exposure. These could include stock with newborns or recently weaned animals, as well as stock with parasitism or other underlying diseases associated with weight loss, anaemia or low protein levels.

“Farmers are encouraged to also ensure livestock are up-to-date with routine stock health management requirements, such as drenching and vaccination programs, and to conduct regular inspections, monitoring for and treatment of diseases,” Dr Phillips said.

“This will help your animals stay healthy and be able to better adapt to changing conditions.

“Cold weather increases an animal’s energy requirement to keep warm. As a result, when storms are forecast, additional supplementary feed before the event should be considered.

“Adequate shelter can include paddock shelter belts (often retained vegetation and tree plantings), sheds or other buildings where stock can shelter on the side out of the wind, and undercover yards like those at a shearing shed.

“Isolated paddock trees can provide some shelter for livestock but can also act as a conductor for lightning strikes in a thunderstorm, which, in some circumstances, can lead to sudden death of livestock sheltering underneath the tree.”

Further information is available on the Agriculture Victoria website.