2023 Queensland bushfire recovery information

Our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted by recent bushfires. Being in the middle of such devastation can be confronting and challenging.

With this in mind, we have compiled a collection of relevant information from multiple reputable sources, to assist those recovering from bushfires in Queensland during 2023.

If a bushfire has damaged your farm or causes losses, we’d love you to report it via DAF’s Disaster Impact Survey: Click here to complete the survey.

These reports help determine what additional assistance is needed to support primary producers during recovery.


Things to do as soon as you can

After completing the Disaster Impact Survey, you may wish to investigate assistance and support options available. These include freight subsidies and loansemergency hardship assistance, free mental health support, free financial counselling and drought preparedness grants and loans. Find out more by:

We understand taking photos of such devastation is distressing, however it is considered important as photos will support your claims and act as evidence should you make insurance claims or apply for future disaster response grant applications. Be sure to capture damage to:

  • infrastructure (fences, roads, bores, tanks, toughs, etc)
  • plant/machinery
  • livestock, including carcases.

Initiating discussions with financial backers and interested parties of your current situation, including any possibilities of not meeting obligations, early in the recovery phase will encourage transparent conversations and understanding before deadlines are reached. Potential discussion points include:

  • anticipated stock losses
  • recovery estimates in terms of time, cost and inputs required
  • anticipated impact on cash flow.


The key questions to ask after a bushfire are:

  • How much pasture feed is still available?
  • How many stock can paddocks carry until pastures are growing again?

Pasture budgets can be used to estimate available feed and how many stock can be carried for defined periods.


Once you’ve worked out how long you can keep your remaining stock for, you may recognise that you are facing a feed shortage between now, and when it is likely you will have a significant flush of pasture growth (ie. mid January).

OptionsEconomic tools to assist decision making
Sell some, or all, stockBeef business tools:
Cattle feeding margin calculator
Cattle marketing ready reckoner
Sell or feed stock calculator
Feed to retain stock (containment feeding) Cattle feeding margin calculator
Production feed to sell stock Cattle feeding margin calculator
Feedlot Cattle feeding margin calculator
AgistmentAgistment calculator
Early weaningDry season management of a beef business: a guide to planning, managing and supplementary feeding dry season management of a beef business: a guide to planning, managing and supplementary feeding (PDF, 6MB), page 58

Other options also include grazing stock routes, leasing or buying other land, gifting stock and last resort, euthanasia.

For more information on options for surviving stock and making informed decisions, see page 36 of MLA’s “Bushfire preparation and recovery: A manual for livestock producers”.

For information on reducing stock numbers after disaster, Business Queensland has an objective guide to prioritising culling of different classes of livestock: Reducing stock after a disaster (i.e. keep the best, sell saleable, empties, less productive, late or out of season calvers, higher risk, old, poor temperament / conformation, cull heifers, inferior bulls, parasite susceptible.)

In many ways, feeding cattle after a fire, is the same as feeding cattle during a drought: there is a lack of feed.

The table below gives a guide to quantities required for full feeding cattle (source: Full hand feeding of beef cattle – quantities, thanks to New South Wales Department of Primary Industries).

Maintenance (a) feed requirements ('as fed') for full hand feeding of cattle

Feed options: minimum weight (kg) per day 'as fed'
Class of stock and bodyweightGrain (12 ME),
Hay (8.5 ME),
50:50 grain:hay mix,
80:20 grain:hay mix,
Silage (30% dry matter and 9 ME)Expected weight gain/day
Weaners (200 kg)2.53.532.5120.2 kg (b)
Yearlings (250 kg)343.53150.1 (b)
Adult dry stock (400 kg)4654.520nil
Breeders, late pregnancy (425 kg)58.576.527nil
Breeders, lactating (425 kg)-10.598 (c)30nil
(a) During periods of cold weather these levels should be increased by 20% using hay if possible (3 kg of hay is equivalent to 2 kg of grain).

(b) For young stock, protein levels should be at least 9% for them to continue growing. It would be better to lot feed these cattle for production.

(c) High levels of grain cause cows to milk poorly. Feed at least 1.5 kg of hay per head per day with 6.5 kg of grain per head per day.

Source: Full hand feeding of beef cattle - quantities (nsw.gov.au)



Lactating cows have much higher nutritional requirements than dry cows. Early weaning and feeding calves will reduce the nutritional stress on the cows and help them hold condition.

For more information on drought feeding cattle (P.45) and weaning calves (p.58) of the “Dry Season Management of a beef business” booklet (PDF, 6MB).

If you’re considering sourcing other feed types, such as sunflower meal, copra meal, oats, etc, here’s a list of average nutrient composition for each feed type, and, for calculation and comparison purposes, here’s information about the nutritional requirements of the different classes of beef cattle.

Things to do when you get time

When you are able to get an idea of the damage done, start preparing repair estimates so you can be on the front foot to apply for grants or submit insurance claims. Examples include:

  • $/km of fencing needing to be fixed
  • $/km of new fencing required
  • quotes for replacement troughs/water infrastructure
  • earth moving equipment rate and expected achievable repairs km/day.

Where possible, burying carcases is recommended to prevent surviving stock from coming in contact with toxins growing in the decaying carcases. Bury animals in deep graves away from creeks. Here are some carcass disposal guidelines.

While hay drops are a blessing of which we are all grateful for, it is worth monitoring drop sites after rain for sneaky, invasive, opportunistic weeds.

You will no doubt be asked to participate in numerous surveys requesting estimates of the scale of damage. Completing these surveys will help inform all levels of government and assistance organisations where future funding should be directed and what resources are needed to help recovery.

While proof of the damaged infrastructure will be required, accompanying those photos with supporting evidence of what it looked like when it was in working order, can also be beneficial in demonstrating the amount of damage. Examples of supporting evidence include invoices and photos of the infrastructure in working order at an earlier date.

Moving forward

In extensive bushfires such as these, widespread erosion can be expected as the soil has been left without cover.

The general recommendations we can provide include:

  • Allow seedlings to grow until they are well established, through delayed re-stocking or low stocking rates.
  • Avoid high impact grazing with large mobs of cattle that will trample seedlings and weak tussocks.
  • Monitor seedling and tussock establishment at easy to access sites you are likely to revisit every three to four weeks. Look for evidence of stock impact on their health and survivability.
  • Review stock numbers and pasture recovery in July/August.
  • Budget stock numbers to leave a minimum of 15–20 cm residual grass stubble height by the end of the dry-season.

Unfortunately, although rains after fires are a welcome sight, it can be a disastrous time for cow mortality. Cattle may go down due to:

  • Poor gut function if they have been unable to eat enough since the bushfire.
  • The resulting green flush of grass growth in the weeks that followed was too rich for weak animals.
  • The impact of diseases such as three-day sickness, akabane, tetanus, and other infections on a weakened animal.
  • Poisonous plants are often the first pasture species to germinate following rain, including pigweed, button grass and Noogoora burr. If cattle have access to a mix of pasture species, the risk is reduced.

Keeping cattle contained and on feed while having access to small amounts of new flush growth will help their rumens steadily adapt while reducing the risk of the cattle gorging on fresh and potentially toxic new growth.

The damage caused by bushfires can be confronting and challenging not only financially and logistically, but emotionally as well.

Actions that have helped communities to heal in other natural disasters

  • Neighbour morning teas on a semi-regular basis assisted people to feel heard by those who understood. It also provided an opportunity to share ideas for recovery and infrastructure improvement while coordinating bulk purchases in an informal co-op approach.
  • If you think someone is struggling mentally with the weight of the situation, sit with that person and suggest they call Lifeline (13 11 14), even going so far as to dial the number for them and leaving them alone to talk in private. Be nearby for when they get off the phone.



Other helplines include:

TIACS by TradeMutt, ph: 0488 846 988

Beyond Blue, ph: 1300 224 636

Headspace (youth mental health and wellbeing), ph: 1300 650 890


Be sure to keep in touch with your local beef extension officers as they will be able to connect you with any grants, advice or assistance that become available.

Click here to contact us


Other helpful resources

Bushfire preparation and recovery: A manual for livestock producers” (PDF, 20 MB) is a comprehensive guide to preparing for and recovering from bushfires, thanks to Meat & Livestock Australia’s, Bushfire hub.



Queensland bushfire 2023