Taking ‘stock’ after uncontrolled veld fires

06 December 2012 Santam

Livestock need immediate attention to rule out secondary injuries

Veld fires can be vicious and unrelenting. Most recently attacking the Northern Cape, these out-of-control blazes destroyed at least 215,000 hectares of agricultural grazing land. The most recent spate of fires, which started in November, were believed to be caused by lightning and fuelled by strong winds.

Santam, South Africa’s largest agricultural insurer, warns that although farm owners and workers fight tirelessly to extinguish perilous blazes, damage may be more severe than anticipated and may even continue after a veldfire has been successfully put out.

Most notably, livestock can be adversely affected by veldfires as physical injury can go beyond the initial visible damage caused by the flames and heat.


“Analysing injuries to livestock following a veldfire is imperative. Secondary problems can quickly lead to infections and more serious complications. Find your livestock, give them adequate nutrition and consult your vet as soon as possible,” says Hanlie Kroese, Business Development Manager at Santam Agriculture. “If it’s possible, move animals to unburned ground.”

“It is important to get livestock to high quality forage with a protein and mineral supplement and good water,” adds Kroese. “Thereafter rotate their feeding area to prevent the build-up of pathogens. If livestock is unable to get adequate nutrition and water immediately, their health can deteriorate rapidly.”

Health disorders such as burned eyes, feet, udders, sheaths and testicles as well as smoke inhalation are the most common problems seen in livestock in the days following a fire. Contact with burning grass, weeds and brush will cause immediate burns to the animal;the severity of the burns will be determined by the degree of heat.

Smoke inhalation

“Inhalation of smoke causes immediate irritation to the lining of the respiratory system, including nasal passages, trachea, and lungs. This can lead to inflammation, edema and emphysema, with theseverity determined by the duration of inhaled smoke,” Kroese continues.

Smoke can travel for many kilometres and livestock that are not near the fire may still suffer from some form of lung infection.


Burns can also cause secondary suffering. The calves of mothers with scorched udders that survived will be unable to suckle on sore udders. The linings of the eyelids and eyeballs can be irritated and lead to secondary infections which can be fatal. Burned feet should be likely and it may take several days to notice that an animal is limping. All surviving livestock should be evaluated as soon as possible for health disorders and potential treatment.

Necessary insurance

With more than 83 years of experience, Santam believes that agricultural brokers play an indispensable role in the insurance cycle. “Not only do they form the critical relationships with farmers and producers, but they also have extensive knowledge of virtually all aspects of farming,” concludes Kroese

In the case of unforeseen damages due to fire, Santam’s Agriculture clients have access to the following:

· Cover for damages they may become legally liable for and have to pay should a fire start on their farm and then spread to neighbouring farms.

· An extension which gives cover for fire extinguishing charges when the insured’s own property is threatened by fire.

· All reasonable fire extinguishing costs and expenses to prevent the spreading of such fire beyond the borders of the insured's own premises.

· Livestock: Insured against death of the insured animal (excluding game), as defined in the schedule, against fire and the farmer can also get cover for his assets such as fences, buildings and structures.

Quick Polls


The Budget Speech 2021...


Certainly taxpayer-friendly, with tax increases being kept to a minimum
Realistic and in accordance with my expectation
Is welcomed news and will go a long way to bolster the economy and South Africa
I have mixed feelings… cutbacks and reprioritisations in government spending pose a significant risk and will come at a cost
Oh no! What about our booze and tobacco! Higher sin taxes
fanews magazine
FAnews February 2021 Get the latest issue of FAnews

This month's headlines

FNA VS Compliance: Advisers still tripping up on section 8(1) of the Code!
Taking the lessons of 2020, into 2021
Motor insurers take note: Replacement parts cannot compromise an insured’s safety!
The broker’s dilemma: Courts lambaste non-life insures for business interruption shortcomings
Leading experts warn the world about the dangers ahead
The world of work 2021… smarter, faster, simpler
Trends that will shape the life insurance industry going forward
Subscribe now