Does the ILC have the ability to run a cattle station? Ask the 300 dead cows

Passing on knowledge of cattle
and caring for country.

Well here we are again. ILC and their 'professional' method of management.

The Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) take back lands from old People who know this cattle industry backwards and tell them that they must have the running of these places.

Just ask the old people up North Queensland where they get control of land that the ILC bought for them then take it back off them and appoint their managers.

Well if this story is and indicative of ILC Cattle Station practices, then I think it is time for the ILC to be reported to the RSPCA. They must be accountable. they keep telling our people that they know nothing and are not experienced in management etc. What a joke!
- Michael Anderson

Does the ILC have the ability to run a cattle station?
Ask the 300 dead cows

By Mick Estens - 5 July 2013

In the past month a situation on an ILC leased Station in the NT has unfolded that shows neglect, even ignorance, by ILC management.

Outbreaks of the cattle disease Botulism is not a new thing on a Northern cattle station but in this day and age controls have been developed to help pastoralists cope. Before the days of supplement and vaccine large numbers were lost over vast tracks of outback land.

Timmy is an ILC employee and said "about 200 cow finish at Lyon Lagoon, oh the poor bala (cattle)". A helicopter pilot who flew over the site estimated 300 or more dead but given the timber and large area it was hard to tell.

When a cow gets botulism it goes through a range of degenerative phases that end in its death. Muscular paralysis will start in the back legs and travel forward to the head. Cattle suffer tremendously, first staggering around, then knuckling over and eventually experiencing incapacity to get up off the ground. The beast lies in the dirt with its head outstretched. The paralysis will develop until the respiration system fails and death occurs. While death comes in the range of one to six days, the amount of suffering a beast will go through depends on where they fall. They cannot fight off dingos or even ants in this condition. Rather than delve into the results of botulism it is better to talk about the modern control methods available to cattle producers that prevent it.

There is no known treatment for botulism but experienced cattlemen know that current control and prevention methods are essential for the herds’ survival and welfare. Vaccine for botulism can be a yearly injection or even a vaccine like Singvac 3 that requires a simple booster three years later.

Botulism starts in cattle after they consume a toxin found in dead animal matter like bones. Cattle will take to chewing rotting matter if there is a shortage of phosphorus and protein in their feed. Cattlemen can deter botulism on their property by providing dietary supplements of protein and phosphorus (otherwise known as lick). This will reduce the bone chewing that can introduce botulism.

In the months leading up to the mass death of these ILC animals, station workers say there has been very little supplement put out for cattle. Station employees say that no cow had been vaccinated for botulism or a booster injection applied to the main herd breeders when they were drafted through the yards. Whether the failure to give these cows a botulism vaccine is the result of cost cutting, laziness or ignorance, none of these reasons are good enough to excuse the agonising death of 300 or more cows.

Phillip Watson is a Traditional Owner (TO) of the ILC leased station and current employee. When asked what had happened there he said "I been burying buligi (cattle) all week. This boss been shut buligi off water trough and make them drink dirty water - that's what happened to the first lot of dead (cattle). Other lots dead be botulism. We been putting out bugger all lick for cattle this year". Regardless of what happened all the cattle are dead and their deaths were preventable. Phillip Watson is a professional cattleman and according to him the ILC haven't given him a management position in 7 years of working for them.

The ILC are trying to become 'cattle barons' but with very poor training results and a case such as this where 200 or more cattle have died agonising deaths, the Australian taxpayer must ask themselves how well their money is being spent. Indeed Aboriginal people don't see a great return from dealing with the ILC.

Events are unfolding still. Phillip Watson (TO) took me to the open burial pits full of rotten cattle. These pits are being visited by community dogs. These dogs could spread the disease to the community. Young children play with these dogs. The pits are in a flood zone where waste from the pits could wash towards the community swimming creek. Flies from these rotten pits are only 3km from the community.

While questions like why didn't the ILC pastoral inspector pick up on the lack of lick, why were the cattle shut off from clean water, why are so many cattle dead, need to be answered, all these questions can wait until we find out "what idiot gave instructions for diseased animals to be placed in open pits 3km from a community, its water and its people?"