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RSPCA shooting starving sheep and cattle

Cattle in poor body condition in the ACT region. (Photo courtesy of RSPCA).

Cattle in poor body condition in the ACT region. (Photo courtesy of RSPCA).

RSPCA officers are shooting starving sheep and cattle on parched farms around the Canberra region.

As lambing and calving livestock compete with kangaroos in plague numbers, welfare officers and police are prosecuting some farmers with hungry stock for animal cruelty.

Rain at the wrong time and high numbers of cattle from the north flooding markets and depressing prices - a legacy of suspending live export with Indonesia in 2011 - have caught farmers off guard.

Cattle in poor body condition in the ACT region (Photo courtesy of RSPCA).

Cattle in poor body condition in the ACT region (Photo courtesy of RSPCA).

Braidwood district vet Bob Templeton is warning farmers passers by won’t tolerate seeing skinny cows in paddocks without grass.

‘‘We are getting neighbours putting in people for their (starving) stock, where they never used to do it.

‘‘The animal welfare bar has been raised dramatically in the last few years, which is a great thing because it keeps people on their toes.’’

RSPCA regional inspector Jean Sprague has attended Yass, Gunning and Goulburn farms where cows and sheep have either been shot, or owners ordered to feed them.

‘‘It’s just unacceptable. A good farmer knows he has to take into account the cost of keeping the protein level up to his stock,’’ Ms Sprague said.

‘‘People say, ‘the prices have dropped, I was waiting for the price to go up.’ Well, you are going to go out backwards. They just don’t do the maths on it.’’

Ms Sprague said land owners at fault ranged from absentee farmers to experienced stockmen, who had become complacent.

‘‘It all comes down to this: if you’ve got stock, feed them. An animal can get sick, an animal can have a veterinary issue and that is a different thing all together.

‘‘When an animal is simply starving, the finger points to the person in charge,’’ Ms Sprague said.

Elders Goulburn manager Steve Ridley said a post-winter sale on Tuesday attracted about 2000 older sheep and lambs.

Mr Ridley said prices were firmer than cattle prices, which had been falling, partly because Indonesia had stopped trading with Australia.

‘‘Central Queensland has been very dry. What that does is push a lot of those cattle south, it has a flow on effect, right the way through.’’

Bungendore grazier Harry Osborne, who has been feeding his stock all winter, said on the urban fringe people bought land and made money from cattle but did not have the experience to cope with unexpected weather.

Mr Osborne said rain in any month beginning with J spelt disaster. Heavy falls in January and June had drained nutrients from the grass, while warmer  autumn and late winter were not accompanied by much needed moisture.

Farmers who needed help weren’t given it.

‘‘It’s not ‘mate, you need to do this’. It is ‘mate, we’re here to shoot your stock’,’’ Mr Osborne said.

‘‘I’m not pessimistic, I’m uneasy. I’m looking at this and thinking, my get out of jail card is slipping away from me.

‘‘That is, I was looking forward to spring being a time where stock prices might claw their way back north and I would be able to off load stock for good money.’’

 

 

12 comments

  • Kangaroos in plague numbers???? One can only assume that if cattle are 'competing' with kangaroos that the kangaroos will be starving as well.

    I think it has been shown actually that kangaroos don't eat the same grasses as cattle and sheep. The problem is not competition with wildlife, who by the way surely deserve to do what they need to survive, but the overdependency on real estate revenue from cementing over every little bit of green there used to be in the ACT.

    Commenter
    Bron
    Date and time
    September 12, 2013, 2:30PM
    • I'm pretty sure farmers aren't cementing over their own fields

      Commenter
      Nigel
      Date and time
      September 12, 2013, 3:30PM
    • Nigel you miss the point. If their habitat is being destroyed at such a speed as has been going on across the ACT and outskirts for a long time, where are they supposed to go? They don't eat the same grasses as cattle and sheep, and it is the farmers who should be providing for the food rather than allow these poor animals to starve which is a horrible way to die. The real issue is apparently yet again, some farmers don't care what happens to what they consider only as a commodity and not a feeling individual who suffers. Kangaroos have been a scapegoat for greed for too long. It's just too easy to blame kangaroos when sheer negligence is the real cause, and these problems are cyclical so not as if farmers won't have had to find extra food in the past.

      Commenter
      Bron
      Date and time
      September 12, 2013, 6:15PM
  • This is the real reason for the kangaroo cull. To the animal activists that saved the kangaroos by getting the cull target reduced, how does this make you feel?

    Commenter
    florafaunalover
    Date and time
    September 12, 2013, 2:32PM
    • This is just an absurd comment, Competing animals for food sources has never been the reason for the kill in the ACT. Ear less lizards and moths or some such apparently having evolved over the last 5 years in the ACT is the reason.

      As an activist, I actually felt pretty terrible because we didn't succeed in a stay on the kangaroo cull at all, any short lived relief for a reduction in numbers and reduction in time was superceeded by the quickness of the ACT Governments 13 day kill to get to quota.

      Livestock may compete with kangaroos for food in other places, but they certainly don't in any of the reserves in the ACT. The pertinent comment is if you’ve got stock, feed them !!

      Commenter
      Crusader
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      September 12, 2013, 3:54PM
    • Completely untrue. Don't come back until you have done your homework.

      Commenter
      IrishPete
      Date and time
      September 12, 2013, 3:57PM
  • Disgusting. Seems that some farmers got themselves in too deep to make a quick buck, and left their animals to starve when the weather didn't go according to plan. Man up and do your own euthanasia on your livestock if needed, but the farmers who leave their animals to perish slowly in this way should have been charged.

    Commenter
    nakmuayying
    Location
    canberra
    Date and time
    September 12, 2013, 3:17PM
    • So who gets charged for letting the Kangaroos perish, thats the important question.

      Commenter
      florafaunalover
      Date and time
      September 12, 2013, 3:57PM
    • Dont you love how the activists blame everyone else... People have been saying for years about the over population in the ACT of Kangaroo's... This is clear evidence and yet they still flap off about it being another issue... They should be made to go and do the dirty work the RSPCA are left with....

      Commenter
      Shogunmatty
      Location
      Reality
      Date and time
      September 12, 2013, 4:01PM
  • Name and shame!

    Commenter
    Gungahlin Girl
    Date and time
    September 12, 2013, 7:53PM

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