Environment

Stark reality of death for farmers as animals perish in the inferno

Farmers have suffered stock losses in the thousands, describing the situation as an "apocalypse" as bushfires continue to tear through properties in New South Wales.

The financial losses from stock death are close to $1 million, according to Premier Barry O'Farrell, who said the loss was heartbreaking.

Livestock move across a property at Jugiong near Yass, which was almost completely burnt out after a bush fire swept ...
Livestock move across a property at Jugiong near Yass, which was almost completely burnt out after a bush fire swept through the area. Photo: Jay Cronan

At least 10,000 animals were killed by the fire which tore through Jugiong, near Yass.

Three teams from the Livestock Health and Pest Authority and the RSPCA were assessing and euthanasing stock through scorched properties on Wednesday, dealing with primarily thousands of merino sheep.

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Liz Braddon, a senior district vet with the Lachlan LHPA, destroyed 1000 sheep on one property near Jugiong and said she would return for more on Thursday.

"At this stage we've done 1000 here and there's more to go," she said.

Property owner Catherine Frith stands on her property at Bogolara ... She lost more than 3000 livestock to the fires.
Property owner Catherine Frith stands on her property at Bogolara ... She lost more than 3000 livestock to the fires. Photo: Jay Cronan

"And the team near Yass have had at least that many too. It's horrible to see. They've done their best but in the face of the fire there's nothing they could do."

Catherine Frith, owner of the property Bogolara, said she and her husband Stephen had lost at least 50 per cent of their stock.

Jonathan Burgess fills up his water tank from the dam on his property near Yass on Wednesday after it was almost ...
Jonathan Burgess fills up his water tank from the dam on his property near Yass on Wednesday after it was almost completely burnt out. Photo: Jay Cronan

She said the scene they returned to was like an "apocalypse".

"The land was just black from the loss of all that grass," she said.

"That's our most important asset our grass, the biodiversity … and it's gone. We've lost a couple of thousand sheep. They've come through and euthanased some and buried about 800. I'm not sure what it all means for us in terms of getting back on

track and insurance.

Stock losses at Cobbler Road fire near Jugiong.
Stock losses at Cobbler Road fire near Jugiong. 

"We've only been here 18 months."

Jonathan Burgess, the overseer of a property near Cobbler Road, said he had lost somewhere between 3000 and 5000 animals in the fire. Another nearby family returned to their farm to find 100 head of sheep dead, as well as a badly injured bull which will have to be put down.

There have also been losses from the Yarrabin fire, which remains out of control after burning through more than 9430 hectares near Cooma.

Julie Huggett, a property owner on Mount Forest Road, said the morning had been hectic as she and her husband put down stock and surveyed damage.

"We lost the machinery shed, fencing and stock," she said.

"But in the scale of it, we lost nothing, because we're all still alive."

Closer to Nimmitabel, residents on Kybeyan Road reported losses.

Although her sheep and cattle had been spared, resident Rhonda McCarthy said her neighbours returning home to discover devastating stock losses.

She said one neighbour had lost hundreds of sheep and cattle - nearly all of the stock on their farm.

"It's not looking good," she said.

"It's going to be devastating today. There's another fellow near us and we don't know how he's fared either, but he had sheep and cattle as well.

"I'd say there would be a lot of stock loss or injured ones who have to be put down as well this morning. They've saved their houses but this is their livelihood."

Despite fire tearing through 1123 hectares near Bungendore, no stock losses have been reported, Rural Fire Service incident controller Tim Carroll said.