Anxious wait for dairyfarmer

23 Mar, 2018 09:15 AM
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Bryan Dickson: Beside your family, the cows are the second most important thing that you have.
I would sooner lose my house than lose the cows.
Bryan Dickson: Beside your family, the cows are the second most important thing that you have.

Victoria's fire threat may have passed but farmers in the state's southwest face an anxious wait, fearing stock losses could rise.

Dairyfarmer Bryan Dickson says about 100 of his cows were burnt at Elingamite after a series of bush and grass fires ripped through the region on Saturday night.

Five days later, he's still not sure if all will survive.

"When I found them Sunday morning ... they were standing, just stunned. It was like they'd been sedated. I guess they were in shock," Mr Dickson told AAP on Thursday.

"They could have internal burning of their throats and that ... you won't know if they've all survived for a couple of months.

"Besides your family, the cows are the second most important thing that you have.

"I would sooner lose my house than lose the cows."

Police have ruled out any foulplay in the four major fires in Victoria's southwest at Gazette, Terang, Garvoc and Camperdown, with none deliberately lit.

Fallen powerlines due to either wind or trees were the cause of the blazes, investigators said.

Between 3500 and 4000 sheep, and some 700 cattle including dairy cows are believed to have died after more than 160 fires broke out amid strong winds and unusually warm and dry weather.

More than 60 sheds and 26 houses, some unoccupied, have also been lost.

The blazes were contained earlier this week but six advice messages remain in place.

Mr Dickson was at his farm when the fire came through late on Saturday night.

He did not believe he received an official emergency warning until after the fire passed.

"I seen the Terang fire start and started to get nervous and then I started to see a glow ... (from) the Garvoc fire," he said.

"I went to shift my milking herd and as I was shifting them I see flames 500m to a kilometre away from me."

When he tried to move other cows to safety, "the flames were only 50 to 80 metres" away.

Victorian Farmers Federation President David Jochinke said stock losses were both emotionally and financially devastating.

"You have a real deep connection with your animals," he said.

"When you see them die in such tragic circumstances, you by yourself take that pain on."

A relief fund has been established by Emergency Management Victoria and Bendigo Bank to support primary producers and people who have lost homes.

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