The effort to band the stock inspectors, P.P. secretaries, and rabbit inspectors of the State, in forming the Institute of "P.P. Board Officials, resulted In a large gathering yesterday morning at the King's Hall, at the inaugural meeting and conference. Mr. Brett (Bathurst), who was elected provisional chairman, presided.
Mr. G. Valder, Under-Secretary and Director of Agriculture, in opening the conference in the absence of the Minister for Agriculture, felt sure that the officials, in forming an organised body, were going to help the Department of Agriculture. He had hoped that the veterinary research farm would have been started, and that a trip to it would have formed part of the conference programme.
However, he believed that it would be established before the next conference. There were very many diseases of stock that had not been studied as they should be in the interests of stockowners. A lot of the success of the farm would depend upon the support accorded by stockowners and the help of the P.P. officials. In other countries these veterinary stations were endowed by wealthy stockowners individually for the investigation of certain diseases. He hoped to see the same spirit shown here. Wealthy stockowners should he able to make it unnecessary for the department to go to the Government for funds to carry the farm on. While they had to rely upon the Government to find the money they would always be more or loss restricted in their work. Concluding, Mr. Valder said that co-operation among the officials in an institute must be of great advantage, and should do much towards increased efficiency in their work.
Mr. R. J. Higglns commended the action being taken by the officials. Stockowners had much to thank them for, and they looked to them for good results from this conference.
The chief inspector of stock, Mr. S. T. D. Symons, M.R.C.V.S., addressed the conference on the subject of "Imported Stock and the Quarantine Laws Governing the Introduction of Same." Delving back into history, he quoted from the annual report of the chief inspector of stock for the year 1869, a reference to the quarantining of sheep which had apparently been In existence for some time, and applied not only to sheep imported from outside Australia, but to those introduced from Victoria. Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia. In the 1870 report of the late Mr. Alex Bruce, then chief inspector of stock, the necessity for imported horses and cattle passing an examination and quarantine for 14 days at least, and the prohibition of the landing of forage brought with imported stock, was urged. "Had such a law as this," said the report, "been in force in this and adjoining colonies. It is reasonable to suppose that pleuro-pneumonia would never have got a footing in Australia: and there are many other diseases prevalent amongst stock In Europe which are not known In Australia, and which might be excluded by such enactments." Mr. Bruce also urged that such precautions, to be effectual, should be taken by all the colonies.
Apparently the first legislation dealing with stock diseases in New South Wales was the Scab and Catarrh in Sheep Act, 1853. The first gazetted quarantine area as the result of this Act was some land at the corner of Fitzroy and Dowling Streets in Surry Hills. Long after the extermination of sheep scab it was still used for the purpose of quarantining coastal sheep that were proposed to be removed to west of the Dividing Range. The Imported Stock Act was passed in 1871, and the first record of any cnttlc being quarantined was at Garden Island. Later stock were quarantined at Dawes Point, Shark Island, and Bradley's Head successively. By the Quarantine Act of 1908 the importation of stock from overseas passed from the administration of the States to the Federal Government, and the new Federal stock quarantine at Abbotsford was expected to be ready for occupation in April.
It was not until 1893 that horses were proclaimed under the Imported Stock Act, as previously they had apparently been included under the definition of "cattle," the Full Court having decided that horses were not cattle. This decision arose out of an action concerning the quarantining of 43 horses from the United States, which introduced glanders in 1891. Going into detail regarding existing regulations Mr. Symons explained at length the precautions and restrictions obtaining with a view to the prevention of the introduction of stock diseases non existent in Australia, such as surra, rinderpest, foot and mouth disease, Johne's disease, sheep scab, sheep pox, and rabies of dogs. The State was greatly indebted to those who had introduced high-class animals of all kinds. The records indicated that amongst the cattle the importation numerically showed that Shorthorns and Herefords were much in excess of any other breeds, although a fair number of Devons had been introduced from time to time. As to sheep, coming not only from the United Kingdom, but from America, France, Spain, and Germany, the merinos far outnumbered the other breeds. Of horses, thoroughbreds headed the list, in conclusion, Mr. Symons paid a tribute to the excellent services rendered by Mr. Charles Strachan. the quarantine keeper, who was about to retire after 32 years service.
At the afternoon session Mr. W. W. Froggatt, Government Entomologist, lectured on "External Parasites." He dealt with the chief insect pests that infest stock and the damage they do to the pastoral Industry. In opening he pointed out that before domestic animals were introduced into Australia there were none of the virulent diseases and pests common in other parts of the world here, because there were no native of any kind allied to sheep, horses, or cattle in the country. So that with the exception of the sheep maggot flies most of the serious pests had been accidentally introduced with imported stock. The Stock Departments of Australia and New South Wales in particular were congratulated on the fact that Australia was the only country in the world in which sheep scab had been stamped out, and one of the few places where the ox warble fly had never gained a footing owing to wise quarantine laws. Prominence was given to the important work being carried out at the Government sheep fly experiment station at Kooroogama, near Moree, under the charge of Mr. J. L. Froggatt, B.Sc. Here millions of chalcid wasps, parasitic on the pupae of the sheep flies, had been artifically bred and distributed all over Australia. Extensive experiments had been and still were being carried out on the wholesale trapping and poisoning of flies and destruction of carcases and offal. The life history and habits of the different species of flies that have acquired the habit of blowing live wool had been studied. Among the other pests dealt with were the horse bot fly that in the larval state lived in the stomach of the horse. The sheep bot, or sheep nasal fly that goes through the earlier stages of its existence feeding on the mucus in the sinuosities of the nose of the sheep. The sheep tick, which is not a tick, but a degraded house fly, was described as also the allied louse fly of the horse. The true sheep lice, cattle and fowl ticks were noted, and the injury caused by biting flies, which were suspected of causlng the nodules in beef were dealt with.
The conference will be resumed at 11 a.m. to-day.