The tenth annual conference of the Institute of Inspectors of Stock of New South Wales, was commenced at the Sydney School of Arts yesterday. Mr. F. F. Forster (Goulburn) presided.
In declaring the conference open, the Minister for Mines (Mr Chaffey) apologised for the non-attendance of the Minister for Agriculture (Mr Thorby) who had had to leave for the country with the Development Commission. Referring to the improved condition of the wool clips on the market in the last few years, Mr Chaffey said that buyers were seeking the best quality To his mind the improvement in wool was largely due to the effectiveness of the stock inspectors work in eliminating parasitic diseases. He expressed deep appreciation of the services that had been rendered by the inspectors and he was pleased to meet many old associates among the large gathering.
An interesting lecture on "Progress in Disease Control" was delivered by the Chief Veterinary Surgeon (Mr. M. Henry). In the last few years, he said, there had been a distinct shortage of veterinary surgeons in Australia both to carry out the research which was a corollary to control and to supervise the control work. The Stock Department had had the greatest difficulty in finding a sufficient number of veterinary surgeons to maintain its staff at establishment and to fill the extra positions coincident on increased control and research work. That was a position of affairs which was not generally recognised Criticism was at times directed at the department for failure to move forward sufficiently fast. At times no doubt this was justified, but there were one or two directions in which such criticism would probably not be made if the full facts were known. Every restriction imposed had a definite purpose, and would act in a particular manner in preventing the spread of disease to healthy flocks and herds. That was the sole reason behind the disease.
In regard to pleuro-pneumonia he continued, the position in New South Wales had been greatly improved of late years as a result of the appointment of district veterinary officers and the institution of the surveillance period after expiry of quarantine. Some years ago he had expressed the hope that they would, soon have a reliable test for the disease, but the work had been delayed. On a recent visit to Melbourne he had found that the test was now progressing and had been considerably advanced. They had every reason to believe that they would shortly be in a position to use it. While not of great value as regards beef cattle it should be of great assistance in an area like the County of Cumberland. Mr. Belschner had brought back from Europe details of more refined tests for the disease in the dead animal. They were also working at improving the method of inoculation, but were coming to regard inoculation as of very secondary value as compared with slaughter of affected animals, strict control of movement, and early slaughter of in-contacts.
The position with regard to blackleg was not wholly satisfactory, the disease being one of the most elusive with which they had to deal. Research work was being continued. Although the eradication of the cattle tick was still unsolved, it was satisfactory to note that no spread southwards had occurred, and that areas of country on the western side of the quarantine areas had been released from quarantine, that areas on the south which were at one time fairly widely infected were now apparently clean, and that further releases from quarantine were under consideration.
The most marked forward step of recent date, he said, was the formation of the Cattle Tick Commission, which had brought the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments definitely into an eradication scheme. Research work by the Cattle Dip Committee hadd proceeded, and much valuable data had been accumulated.
Judging by the results of recent country sales, the situation respecting sheep lice and sheep tick was improving, proceeded the lecturer. There was no question that a great increase in the number of dips available for sheep dipping had come about as a result of the departmental activities against the pests. He thought they were approaching the point when no sheep which required it went undipped, but they were a long way from having all sheep satisfactorily dipped. Compulsory dipping of all sheep was no solution of the problem. The best way of getting at such a problem was to place on the owner the onus of having clean sheep.
Compulsory dipping was a broken reed to lean on, unless the constructlon of the dips, the composition of the dipping fluids, and the actual dipping were all supervised The department preferred to interfere as little as possible, and merely say to the stockowner, "You must have clean sheep." Respecting tuberculosis, the work had not varied for many years, except recently, when the system of voluntary accredited tubercular-free herds was introduced. That was undoubtedly a big step forward. A very interesting feature in American work was the discovery of the close relationship between fowl tuberculosis and many cases of pig tuberculosis. That connection had not been found In New South Wales.
Progress with regard to the war against fluke, had been an outstanding feature of the last few years. Veterinary science was now in a position for it to be stated that no sheepowner need suffer loss from fluke. There were many areas of country in New South Wales which could now be safely and intensively stocked with sheep, whereas such a thing was impossible before. Unfortunately they had learned a great deal about swine fever in the past year. They had satisfied themselves that after the living infected animal, the greatest source of infection was the presence of pork scraps in household and restaurant garbage fed to pigs. They had proved that pork would remain infective for 71 days after slaughter. It was evident that to control swine fever, one must control garbage feeding. One very dangerous source of infection had recently been closed, since it was no longer permissible to land table refuse from ships for use as pig food.
Dr. H. R. Seddon gave an outline of the work that is being carried out at the Glenfield Veterinary Research Station, of which he is the director. He dealt with the progress in the war against various diseases, and made particular reference to swine fever. When he visited areas at Botany where the disease had broken out, he found that adjoining pens were not affected in sequence, but he was attracted by the largo number of starlings in the vicinity, and decided to carry out on experiment at Glenfield. A pen of healthy pigs was placed in proximity to pigs with fever, and the area was enclosed with netting. Six starlings were placed in the area, and they fed in one pen and then the other. The healthy pigs became affected, showing that the birds carried the virus on their feet.
Swine fever, he explained, was a disease that was difficult to diagnose. Usually the first symptom was that the animal lost its appetite, and this usually occurred three or four days after exposure to infection. This stage was closely followed by a sudden rise in temperature, quite often to 106 degrees. The animal then adopted a characteristic attitude in standing, the head and tail drooping, and the hack arched. Diarrhoea was a constant symptom, and the pig wasted very rapidly. Coughing was not constant unless the animal was suffering from pneumonia.
The conference adjourned until this morning, when the annual report will be presented.