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Beyond the Bale : June 2016
44 ON FARM As recently as two years ago, the sheep enterprise on the 13,000 hectare ‘Victoria Downs’ property of Will and Narda Roberts had been very close to becoming one of the casualties of increasing wild dog numbers across Queensland. Despite their best efforts, Will and local producers who wanted to stay in sheep were under tremendous pressure from wild dogs. Prior to shearing in August 2014, Will was suffering significant sheep losses, and from August to February 2015 (shearing to crutching) he lost more than 1,000 grown sheep and only managed to raise 15% of lambs from his scanned ewes. “However, things started to turn around for us after our property was included as part of a cluster fencing project, the first finished in Queensland,” Will said in a presentation to the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) Congress. “The cluster fence was completed on 7 January 2015 and following a baiting program our dogger came in to catch what dogs remained inside the fenced area. “In 2015 we managed to mark 87% of lambs to ewes joined; we were on track to mark 100% of lambs but there was a dog coming in that we had no knowledge of. From lamb marking to weaning we lost no more lambs than we would normally expect to lose from a variety of natural causes. “This year we will be dog-free at lambing and we expect to have our best lambing ever. “We are doing an AI program this year, the first for many years and we will now be able to get into selling reasonable numbers of surplus sheep; and our sheep, who will be much less stressed, should cut more wool.” MORVEN CLUSTER FENCING The Morven cluster fence encloses about 400,000 hectares and is more than 450 km long, including 79km of the Great Barrier Fence. The cluster involves 48 landholdings of which 43 are commercial properties operated by 32 landholders. The fence is approximately 1.7 m high including a top barb wire. 150cm of this netting is in a vertical position, which gives a 30cm apron that is essential for the integrity of the fence. “Being one of the first clusters will mean that other fences will hopefully honeycomb off our perimeter and provide us with more and more protection. “I reckon cluster fencing will prove to be a revolution for grazing land management. DOG BUSTERS The construction of cluster fencing around Morven in South West Queensland is helping local sheep producers combat wild dogs and increase sheep and lamb numbers. Will Roberts with his daughter Candice alongside the cluster fence on ‘Victoria Downs’ at Morven, Queensland. PHOTO: Andrea Crothers
In the Shops - September 2016