The second annual conference of the Institute of Stock Inspectors of New South Wales was opened yesterday morning by the Minister for Agriculture, whose references to the appalling character of the drought are reported elsewhere. The Institute was only formed in 1918, and already shows signs of unlimited vigour. The conference last year was abandoned, like so many similar functions, on account of the epidemic. This year the attendance has been seriously interfered with by the need for the presence of stock Inspectors in their districts to attend to travelling stock. There is, however, a representative gathering from widely separated parts of the State. In conformity with the objects of the conference, the lectures were of a somewhat technical, but highly instructive, character.
Resuming business after the opening ceremony, Mr. S. T. D. Symons, M.R.C.V.S., Chief Inspector of Stock, dealt In detailed fashion with "Food Digestion by Stock," with special reference to the scrutiny now needed over the hand feeding of cattle and sheep. The customary pastures were in nearly all cases quite out of the question. In his view, it was not only a matter of considerable mortality being experienced from starving stock, but any increase in our flocks and herds for many years could only be looked upon as problematical. There was a scarcity of all ordinary kinds of stock foods, and it was desirable that stock inspectors should act at all times as advisers in recommending the conservation of water and food, and the greater development of fodder crops to provide for times of stress. He advocated a vigorous and persistent propaganda, in the hope that Australian Governments might realise, and he trusted very shortly, the necessity for a continuous policy, not only in times of drought, but in periods of plenty also, in the direction of improved railway facilities, comprehensive schemes of water conservation, and better roads, with the object of assisting the primary producer to the utmost.
At the afternoon session, Mr. J. Wrenford Mathews, sheep and wool expert, delivered an interesting address on sheep, indicating the most suitable types for breeding in various parts of the State. Mention was made of the comprehensive series of experiments conducted by the Department of Agriculture to ascertaln the best all round breed to cross with the merino to produce a profitable dualpurpose type, in which the Border Leicester, and in less degree the Lincoln, had shown out prominently. For the production of an early lamb for market, the use of a Downs ram on a longwool merino ewe had given satisfactory results.
"Conservation" or the prevention of economic loss was the subject chosen by Dr. S. Dodd, D.V.Sc, F.R.C.V.S., Lecturer In Veterinary Pathology and Bacteriology at the University of Sydney. He declared that drought, disease, and other causes of Ioss, though often attributed to Providence, were often due to man's shortcomings, sometimes to defective knowledge. The scientist could and did help in reducing mortality in stock, and there was thus no justification for the jibe that the scientist was not a producer. Stockowners had to realise that nature's frowns were almost as frequent as her smiles, and this must govern many of their actions.
Referring to disease in stock, he emphasised the point that except on small holdings or with valuable stud animals, curative treatment was almost always impracticable. Prevention was by far the better way, but an accurate knowledge of the cause of the trouble must precede the adaption of the preventive methods. For this reason ability to diagnose the various prevalent diseases should form part of the equipment of stock inspectors, who should aim at being looked upon "not as policemen, but as advisers and friends." The need for prompt investigation of suspicious deaths was referred to in view of the fact that the isolation of the causal organism was much more difficult after decomposition had set in. A careful tabling of symptoms was also necessary, especially as some could easily be the consequence rather than the cause of the disease.
"Stockowners," continued Dr. Dodd, "do not assist scientific investigators as much as they might. This may be due to the fear that the holding may be placed in quarantine, and also to the fear that if it Is known that any animals have suffered from disease the sale of such stock may be prejudiced." But this attitude was wrong, and the withholding of essential information was usually to their own disadvantage. Not only was it impossible to keep secret the fact that animals were dying, but rumour, usually exaggerated the facts. Such stockowners were often the first to complain that the Government did little or nothing to help them when outbreaks of disease occurred.
Somewhat caustic reference was made to the ease with which pastoralists became the prey of vendors of nostrums, and to their dependence on "something in a bottle," or even a lick. This was often easier than taking commonsense precautions to maintain health and to check dlsease. Even when the animals had been vaccinated the owners at times unduly handicapped the treatment by failing to give suitable food and shelter.
The desirability of pathological examination, especially of blood smears taken as soon after death as possible, was stressed, as it might mean all the difference between correct diagnosis of the trouble and subsequent prevention, and the continuance of a heavy mortality. Detailed reference was made to many of the more serious diseases common to the State, and interesting sidelights were given by the lecturer of his experience in conducting research work in the outback country.
At the close of each address the lecturers were warmly thanked. The conference continues its sittings today.