• feed lot

    CLIMATE CHANGE INCREASING HEAT STRESS IN CATTLE

    21st February 2017

    Questions without notice.

    Heat stress in cattle.

    ANIMAL WELFARE

    The Hon. MARK PEARSON (16:31): My question is directed to the Hon. Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry. Given that the New South Wales Government recognises that climate change means that farmers will need to adjust to prolonged periods of high temperatures during the summer months, what steps is the Minister’s department taking to ensure that the recent prolonged suffering and death from heat stress of 40 dairy cattle at Shoalhaven does not become a regular occurrence in our paddocks and cattle and sheep feedlots, in particular where this occurred due to the failure to provide adequate shelter?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry) (16:32): I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. I am sure that he had a good holiday, like the rest of us. He had plenty of time to fly his drone, no doubt. I hope he is well rested. I hear that he has not yet finished. I thank him for his question. I know that issues in relation to how stock handle extremes of temperature, including heat stress, is something that is managed by a lot of private businesses in our primary industries. In relation to the dairy that the Hon. Mark Pearson spoke about, I will take the question on notice and come back to him with a detailed answer. Given the nature of the question and given the timelines he spoke about, I am sure that there will be ongoing investigation. It would not be helpful for me to make comments while an investigation is being undertaken so I will take the question on notice and come back to him.

    Mr Jeremy Buckingham: Point of order: The question from the Hon. Mark Pearson clearly mentioned climate change, which is a very serious issue and an issue of interest to people across New South Wales as well as honourable members. So far the Minister has not mentioned climate change in his answer. It is pertinent. It is central to this issue, and I would ask that the President direct the Minister to be relevant to the question that was asked.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! Mr Jeremy Buckingham will resume his seat. That is not a point of order by any stretch of the imagination. Mr Jeremy Buckingham should not use points of order as an opportunity to make debating points. The Minister was being generally relevant, and he will be heard in silence.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: Before I take this question on notice and come back to the Hon. Mark Pearson I just make the observation that any person who would use the death of stock like this as some sort of political stunt in this Chamber, as Mr Jeremy Buckingham has just done, is an absolute disgrace. The Hon. Mark Pearson asked about—

    Mr Jeremy Buckingham: You’re a disgrace, mate. People are going to the wall and you won’t even say the words “climate change”. You’re a fool.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind Mr Jeremy Buckingham that it was not my intention to call honourable members to order in this first question time. I ask that Mr Jeremy Buckingham allow the Minister to finish his answer in silence. The Minister has the call.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: We all know that the Hon. Mark Pearson is passionate when it comes to animal welfare. He has asked a genuine question. I was showing the member’s question the respect that it deserved, and I was going through it and answering the substantive part of the question. The stunt that Mr Buckingham has just pulled is something that every member of this House should stand up and condemn him for.

    Mr Jeremy Buckingham: You pulled the stunt, mate.

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: To use the death of stock and the loss of livelihood of a primary producer for a political stunt on climate change is nothing but a disgrace. If the rest of his colleagues had the respect to come to question time and to actually sit through this then I am sure they would be absolutely disgusted as well. He is a disgrace—using an unrelated topic to make a point like this.

    Mr Jeremy Buckingham: They are disgusted by you, mate. Thousands of farmers are going to the wall. The Minister is an absolute dinosaur and a fool.

    The PRESIDENT: Order! I will not tolerate Government Ministers, Government members, Opposition members or crossbench members yelling at each other across the table. It is clearly disorderly. It is not something that I will accept. I ask that the Minister direct his answer through the Chair. Does the Minister have anything further to add?

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: Getting back to the substantive part of the question, I thank the Hon. Mark Pearson for his question. I will take it on notice and come back to him with as much information as possible in due course.


    28th March 2017

    ANIMAL WELFARE

    In reply tothe Hon. MARK PEARSON (21 February 2017).

    The Hon. NIALL BLAIR (Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry)—The Minister provided the following response:

    The Department of Primary Industries recognises that climate change has the potential to impact on farming and livestock in particular. Advisory material has been prepared by the department and by industry groups and circulated to farmers on the best ways to avoid this situation.

    The department’s Climate Unit currently produces the NSW Seasonal Conditions Report on a monthly basis which is available publicly through the DPI website or via email subscription.

    The report includes information on rainfall, water storages, crops, livestock and other issues. It can help farmers make informed decisions on how they manage operations and prepare for seasonal conditions including heatwaves.

    The department has a representative on the Feedlot Industry Accreditation Committee—the group which oversees and administers the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme [NFAS], the quality assurance program for the cattle feedlot sector.

    The committee has agreed to a number of requirements for feedlots with respect to heat stress management including the need to:

    •have a Heat Load Action Plan;

    •undertake a specific animal welfare audit every six months (in addition to the annual independent audits of feedlots);

    •undertake regular monitoring of cattle during the summer period; and

    •conduct risk assessments, and to calculate heat stress and accumulated heat load in their cattle for their specific site.

    The committee regularly reviews NFAS, recommends areas for further research and development [R&D] as well as providing advice surrounding the need for industry training and development.

    To this end, the industry has undertaken R&D into the impacts of climate change on the sector and how the industry needs to adapt into the future. Industry has also developed animal welfare specific training and other materials for extension purposes.

    Additionally, the feedlot sector has developed the Katestone forecasting service which enables lot feeders to calculate the heat load risk in their cattle and the accumulated heat load for cattle and the climate specific to their site, several days in advance.

    Katestone enables proactive mitigating measures to be undertaken such as the inclusion of additional water troughs in pens, transferring more heat susceptible cattle to shaded areas and/or changing the ration to reduce metabolic heat generation.

    The dairy industry has also developed a Forecast Service to help dairy operators proactively manage summer heat in their herds. Farmers can register with the Dairy Forecast Service through Dairy Australia, which provides information including temperature, atypical conditions and extended periods of heat load weather.

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