2023 Queensland bushfire recovery information

Our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted by recent bushfires. Being in the middle of such devastation can be confronting and challenging.

With this in mind, we have compiled a collection of relevant information from multiple reputable sources, to assist those recovering from bushfires in Queensland during 2023.

If a bushfire has damaged your farm or causes losses, we’d love you to report it via DAF’s Disaster Impact Survey: Click here to complete the survey.

These reports help determine what additional assistance is needed to support primary producers during recovery.

Bushfire recovery

Things to do as soon as you can

Freight subsidies, loans and support

After completing the Disaster Impact Survey, you may wish to investigate assistance and support options available. These include freight subsidies and loans, emergency hardship assistance, free mental health support, free financial counselling and drought preparedness grants and loans. Find out more by:

  • visiting DAF’s Disaster eHub 
  • call DAF’s call centre on us on 13 25 23.

Take date-stamped photos
We understand taking photos of such devastation is distressing, however it is considered important as photos will support your claims and act as evidence should you make insurance claims or apply for future disaster response grant applications. Be sure to capture damage to:

  • infrastructure (fences, roads, bores, tanks, toughs, etc)
  • plant/machinery
  • livestock, including carcases.

Notify financial institutions/shareholders
Initiating discussions with financial backers and interested parties of your current situation, including any possibilities of not meeting obligations, early in the recovery phase will encourage transparent conversations and understanding before deadlines are reached. Potential discussion points include:

  • anticipated stock losses
  • recovery estimates in terms of time, cost and inputs required
  • anticipated impact on cash flow.

Key questions to ask of the pasture you've got left
The key questions to ask after a bushfire are:

  • How much pasture feed is still available?
  • How many stock can paddocks carry until pastures are growing again?

Pasture budgets can be used to estimate available feed and how many stock can be carried for defined periods.

Options when you've got a feed shortage
Once you’ve worked out how long you can keep your remaining stock for, you may recognise that you are facing a feed shortage between now, and when it is likely you will have a significant flush of pasture growth (ie. mid January).

Options  Economic tools to assist decision making
Sell some, or all, stock   Beef business tools:
• Cattle feeding margin calculator
• Cattle marketing ready reckoner
• Sell or feed stock calculator
Feed to retain stock (containment feeding)  • Cattle feeding margin calculator
Production feed to sell stock • Cattle feeding margin calculator
Feedlot  • Cattle feeding margin calculator
Agistment Agistment calculator
Early weaning  Dry season management of a beef business: a guide to planning, managing and supplementary feeding dry season management of a beef business: a guide to planning, managing and supplementary feeding (PDF, 6MB), page 58

Other options also include grazing stock routes, leasing or buying other land, gifting stock and last resort, euthanasia.

For more information on options for surviving stock and making informed decisions, see page 36 of MLA’s “Bushfire preparation and recovery: A manual for livestock producers”.

For information on reducing stock numbers after disaster, Business Queensland has an objective guide to prioritising culling of different classes of livestock: Reducing stock after a disaster (i.e. keep the best, sell saleable, empties, less productive, late or out of season calvers, higher risk, old, poor temperament / conformation, cull heifers, inferior bulls, parasite susceptible.)

Full feeding
In many ways, feeding cattle after a fire, is the same as feeding cattle during a drought: there is a lack of feed.

The table below gives a guide to quantities required for full feeding cattle (source: Full hand feeding of beef cattle – quantities, thanks to New South Wales Department of Primary Industries).

Things to do when you get time

When you are able to get an idea of the damage done, start preparing repair estimates so you can be on the front foot to apply for grants or submit insurance claims. Examples include:

  • $/km of fencing needing to be fixed
  • $/km of new fencing required
  • quotes for replacement troughs/water infrastructure
  • earth moving equipment rate and expected achievable repairs km/day.

Bury carcases
Where possible, burying carcases is recommended to prevent surviving stock from coming in contact with toxins growing in the decaying carcases. Bury animals in deep graves away from creeks. Here are some carcass disposal guidelines.

Monitor fodder drop sites
While hay drops are a blessing of which we are all grateful for, it is worth monitoring drop sites after rain for sneaky, invasive, opportunistic weeds.

Participate in surveys
You will no doubt be asked to participate in numerous surveys requesting estimates of the scale of damage. Completing these surveys will help inform all levels of government and assistance organisations where future funding should be directed and what resources are needed to help recovery.

Look for supporting evidence such as photos and invoices
While proof of the damaged infrastructure will be required, accompanying those photos with supporting evidence of what it looked like when it was in working order, can also be beneficial in demonstrating the amount of damage. Examples of supporting evidence include invoices and photos of the infrastructure in working order at an earlier date.

Moving forward

Pasture recovery

In extensive bushfires such as these, widespread erosion can be expected as the soil has been left without cover.

The general recommendations we can provide include:

  • Allow seedlings to grow until they are well established, through delayed re-stocking or low stocking rates.
  • Avoid high impact grazing with large mobs of cattle that will trample seedlings and weak tussocks.
  • Monitor seedling and tussock establishment at easy to access sites you are likely to revisit every three to four weeks. Look for evidence of stock impact on their health and survivability.
  • Review stock numbers and pasture recovery in July/August.
  • Budget stock numbers to leave a minimum of 15–20 cm residual grass stubble height by the end of the dry-season.

Your recovery
Be sure to keep in touch with your local beef extension officers as they will be able to connect you with any grants, advice or assistance that become available.

Click here to contact us

Other helpful resources
Bushfire preparation and recovery: A manual for livestock producers” (PDF, 20 MB) is a comprehensive guide to preparing for and recovering from bushfires, thanks to Meat & Livestock Australia’s, Bushfire hub.

This article is courtesy of Future Beef


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