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Beyond the Bale : June 2014
44 ON-FARM FAST FACTS l A shift from cropping to livestock has enabled Damien and Eileen Lynch at Poochera on the Eyre Peninsula to achieve a more productive and a less risky farming enterprise. l Damien has introduced a rotational grazing system on the property with the use of temporary electric fencing and a portable watering system. l He has used this system for four years and is continually increasing breeding ewe numbers due to better feed utilisation. Amove from cropping to a sheep and wool enterprise has provided producers Damien and Eileen Lynch at Poochera on the Eyre Peninsula with less financial risk and greater flexibility.. With an annual rainfall of 300mm, Damien previously cropped about 2200ha; however, after a run of dry years from 2005 to 2008 he shifted his focus to livestock. The family partnership and property were split in 2012 and he now runs his 1200ha property predominantly as a livestock enterprise. His cropping activities are very small (about 100ha of oats and barley) dedicated to livestock fodder. In 2009 the Eyre Peninsula NRM Board (with funding from Woolworths) joined with the AWI- funded SheepConnect SA network to establish Damien's property as one of five demonstration farms across the Eyre Peninsula. Rural Solutions SA provided technical support. PADDOCK SUBDIVISION In 2008, Damien decided to graze 50ha of a poorly performing barley and oat crop instead of harvesting it. He implemented a rotational grazing system, rather than set stocking, for better feed utilisation -- the paddock was grazed in six blocks of approximately 8-9ha each. Damien had always used permanent fencing; however, with the change to rotational grazing, he decided to investigate the suitability of temporary electric fencing. To help him erect and roll up electric fencing there are systems available to attach to four wheel motorbikes. Through the NRM/ SheepConnect project, four RappaTM systems were purchased and made available for landholders to trial across the Eyre Peninsula. Damien did not have a four wheel motorbike. So he built a two-wheeled trailer to mount the RappaTM system, along with all the equipment required. He tows it with his farm ute to make the rollout and shifting of these temporary fence lines a lot less time consuming. He erects a single 1km long electric fence that is shifted five times to create the six grazing sections. It takes two people about one hour to take down and re-erect a 600-700m length of fence. Damien said he is very happy with the RappaTM system and even made his own reels to reduce the costs. "Temporary electric fencing is an attractive option as it allows paddocks to be quickly subdivided, enabling stock to be moved regularly on to fresh feed without having to be shifted over long distances," he said. "The electric fencing has increased paddock flexibility and provided management options to graze cereals depending on the season." FEED UTILISATION By using the temporary electric fencing, Damien is now aware of how much feed has been wasted in previous years through stock trampling and selective grazing over his larger paddocks. His sheep now graze to within one metre of the fence lines. Provided there is adequate feed in the paddock, livestock are retained and do not put pressure on the electric fence. However, Damien has had a few issues with kangaroos and emus occasionally flattening Damien and Eileen Lynch with the RappaTM mounted on a two wheeled trailer. Shifting from cropping June 2014 BEYOND THE BALE "TEMPORARY ELECTRIC FENCING IS AN ATTRACTIVE OPTION AS IT ALLOWS PADDOCKS TO BE QUICKLY SUBDIVIDED, ENABLING STOCK TO BE MOVED REGULARLY ON TO FRESH FEED WITHOUT HAVING TO BE SHIFTED OVER LONG DISTANCES" DAMIEN LYNCH