Cattle die as farmer labels DPI 'slow'

A MOSSGIEL farmer is frustrated by "bureaucratic laziness" after 50 head of cattle have died on his property from a mystery illness.

Terry Huntly's cattle have died shortly after presenting with runny noses, drooling, diarrhoea, watery eyes and high temperatures but nobody can tell him what was wrong.

Mr Huntly was frustrated by the Department of Primary Industries' (DPI) slow response and speculative diagnosis.

"I've had all sorts of trouble with the bureaucracy, the DPI took five weeks before they left their air-conditioned offices and came to investigate what was going wrong," Mr Huntly said.

"The problem's abating on my property, but just yesterday my neighbour had two of his cattle drop dead and this has been happening since the end of October.

"The DPI suspect it could be plant poisoning but there's no plants out here for them to be poisoned on."

Mr Huntly has ruled out the effects of the dry weather as all the cattle were fat before dying and he has been cleaning his water troughs every two days to ensure it was not a water-borne infection.

Mr Huntly had cattle die in 2009 from what he suspects was the same disease and frustrated by what he considered apathy from the DPI he contacted the member for Farrer Sussan Ley.

"All we want is answers and thankfully Sussan Ley has ensured the tissue samples get to the AAHL (Australian Animal Health Laboratories) much faster than the DPI were," Mr Huntly said.

DPI Senior Veterinary Officer, Graham Bailey, said experts were working closely with the affected landholders to investigate the cause of the deaths.

"A team involving field veterinarians both DPI and private, an epidemiologist, Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute diagnostic pathologists and virologists, and staff from the Australian Animal Health Laboratory at Geelong are working on the investigations," Mr Bailey said.

"We are currently developing a questionnaire which will provide more information about the extent of the disease and help us to systematically analyse the risk factors and identify the cause of the deaths."

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