In opening the annual conference of the Institute of Inspectors of stock of New South Wales yesterday, the chief veterinary surgeon (Mr. Max Henry) referred to the financial position of the grazier as an important factor in the development of the rabbit plague.
One of the most important duties of the stock inspectors at the present time was the control of the rabbit pest, said Mr. Henry. This was not the first time that there had been a rabbit plague and possibly it would not be the last. There had been no unusual features contributing to the increase in rabbits such as a variation in prolificacy. The prime factor appeared to be the financial position of the graziers. A contributing cause was the favourable seasons experienced in the western districts, which allowed the pest to breed rapidly. There was not the slightest doubt that the position would eventually go back to its former satisfactory state. Already reports indicated that the situation was improving, and the dry spell in the west at present was causing the death of great numbers of the pest.
Referring to measures taken to prevent the introduction of Newcastle disease in poultry from Victoria into this State, Mr. Henry said that although the trouble in Victoria appeared to be abating somewhat, the precautions could not yet be in any way relaxed.
The necessity for a Pig Branding Act was urged by Mr. C. J. Woollett (Lismore) in his presidential address.
Under the provisions of the Swine Compensation Act, owners of fat pigs paid 1/ for each pig sold to a fund to compensate owners of pigs which suffered from certain diseases, Mr. Woollett said. It could not be denied that a very large number of owners never had a pig condemned, and yet they had to help compensate the breeders of diseased animals. The sooner the diseases of swine were materially diminished the sooner the tax would be reduced. Inspection of cattle on farms which had supplied pigs condemned for tuberculosis at bacon factories had enabled numbers of diseased cattle to be found, and in turn there had been a noticeable reduction in the percentage of condemned pigs. Figures supplied by the Norco Cooperative Co., Byron Bay, showed that the percentage of pigs condemned for tuberculosis had been reduced from 3.69 in 1930 to 2.06 last year. This was most gratifying, and represented a great economic saving.
Another picture was seen in the case of pigs sold at saleyards where their identity could not be traced, continued Mr. Woollett. A proprietary firm killing animals mostly bought at saleyards had indicated that the percentage of pigs condemned for the disease had increased from 2.33 in 1930 to 4.32 in 1932. Obviously a Pig Branding Act was required to deal with this matter. The Minister for Agriculture had recently stated that a bill on these lines had already been drafted. The sooner it was made law the sooner the 1/ impost would be reduced.
Mr. Woollett strongly advised the inspectors to put stock owners on guard against "medicine peddlers" unless they were travelling for a reputable firm. The claims made for some of the preparations were extraordinary. Farmers would be saved very large sums of money in the aggregate if the sale of "nostrums" was controlled by some competent authority. The time had arrived for this kind of "commercial robbery" to be restricted by legislative action.
In conclusion, Mr. Woollett urged that the greatest care should be exercised when purchasing dairy cattle to take into clean country for fear of introducing serious diseases.
In the ensuing discussion, several speakers strongly supported Mr. Woollett's remarks concerning the spread of disease by buying cattle from recognised dairying districts to take into new areas. Mr. G. L. Fielder (Dubbo) declared that there was a tremendous possibility of herds being polluted in the west by introducing stock from the coast.
Mr. C. Furness (Bathurst) said that the animals should be inspected and declared sound before being allowed to mix with clean stock.
The seriousness and growing importance of mammitis in dairy cattle was also emphasised by many delegates, and figures were given illustrating the high percentage of infected animals in some localities. It was urged by one speaker that the disease should be recorded as a notifiable one.
"Air traffic provides the most serious challenge to animal quarantine services, which has ever appeared," declared the chief veterinary officer (Mr. Max Henry) in an address on veterinary science.
"The change from the sailing ship to the steamship increased the risk in degree, but air traffic not only intensifies the degree of danger but introduces a danger of a fresh type," he said.
"The introduction of diseased animals by sea or land could be carefully watched, but air traffic is almost uncontrollable. The multiplication of private and semi-official aerodromes will magnify the danger. It is becoming increasingly clear that the responsibility must be thrown on the country of export. This is becoming increasingly evident in Europe already, and is unquestionably the trend in the future. Australia with her empty north is perilously open to invasion by disease in this manner. The future must see, pending the possible evolution of international control, arrangements for the carrying out of necessary veterinary police measures along the air traffic routes leading to Australia.
"One may postulate a condition of affairs in which contagious disease will be extirpated from our flocks and herds," continued Mr. Henry. "The corollary to this will be increasingly drastic tests applied to all animals imported into any country except those from countries advanced in preventive veterinary medicine. By that time the whole of contagious disease will, probably, be governed by international conventions, and it is more than likely, unless we are to see the collapse of civilisation and a throwback into chaos and anarchy, that such international conventions will be given the force of law. By that I mean that there will probably be an international board of advice, and that by mutual consent of the nations the rulings of this international board will be accepted and enforced."
"With the extirpation of contagious disease will come a change of outlook from control to eradication," added Mr. Henry. "Such a change is already in progress. It will mean the almost complete abandonment of the method of protection by vaccines and sera. The hey-day or the vaccine has already passed. Recognition of the fact that such methods are only palliative is steadily increasing.
"A further change which one sees clearly forthcoming is a still more marked departure from drugs and drug administration. The old fashioned habit of forcing perfectly healthy and normal animals to consume large quantities of drugs persists today, and is encouraged to persist by those directly interested in the sale of preparations. A healthy animal requires no medicine. Recent events regarding patent medicines, nostrums, and cure-alls in many countries make it clear that one of the functions of veterinary science in the future will be to protect the stockowner against exploitation. One of the most astonishing features of the last few years has been the multiplication of firms and agencies selling patent stock medicines to the farmer. These medicines may be divided into three groups. The first one, fairly numerous, consists of sheer swindles; another, also fairly common, in which reputable drugs are sold at outrageous prices: and a third, very small group of really satisfactory medicants sold at reasonable prices.
In an address entitled "Some External Parasites of Stock," Mr, R. N. McCulloch dealt with the merits and limitations of jetting in the control of the blowfly. During last autumn in a series of field tests, two new mixtures were compared with sheep dip and arsenite of soda, and showed up as definitely superior. The percentage of sheep struck during the six weeks' period of the test were, untreated, 20 per cent.; arsenite of soda and soap, 7½ per cent.; and lime arsenic or Paris Green, 5 per cent. Although there was evidence that the mixture in general use could be improved, a great deal had not been ascertained yet to prove that jetting was a paying proposition. Personally, he thought it was, and hoped to be able to show that it offered quite the cheapest way of protecting flocks from the fly.
The present position in regard to control of the blowfly and the recent investigations and findings were comprehensively surveyed by Dr. H. R. Seddon, director of veterinary research. Glenfield, who paid particular attention to the conditions predisposing the sheep to strike.
Short, pithy speeches were the feature of note at the annual dinner of the institute, held at the Hotel Metropole, last night. Toasts included the Department of Agriculture, bracketed with the names of Mr. Max Henry and Mr Sanderson; the Institute, proposed by Dr. Seddon, and the president (Mr. Woollett), proposed by Mr. Sanderson, and seconded by Dr. I. Clunies Ross.