Exclusion fencing brings real savings and sleep

Contributed by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

In 2015, a wool-producing property, located in central west Queensland, invested $200,000 to construct an exclusion fence to protect its ewes and lambs from an increase in wild dog attacks during lambing periods. That property is now realising real economic, social and environmental benefits as a result of the fencing.

Since 2010, the incidence of wild dog attacks on properties in Central West Queensland has increased despite regional wild dog management programmes. Due to the financial impacts of the attacks, some landholders reduced their flocks or moved out of sheep altogether.

Prior to the exclusion fence, sheep mortality due to attacks on the Queensland wool-producing property was in excess of 10 per cent in some paddocks and lambing percentages also fell dramatically, preventing the flock replacement.

A Queensland wool producer has seen a big increase in productivity after installing an exclusion fence.

As a result of the fencing, annual mortality rates of adult sheep have halved from around six percent to around three percent. According to the landholder, this is a saving of around $30,000 if sheep are valued at $100 per head.

Lambing percentages increased from a long term average of less than 50 percent to 82 percent in 2016. This is an additional 1,200 lambs worth about $60,000 if the lambs are valued at
$50 per head.

Not only has the fence improved the survival rate of sheep by controlling wild dogs, it has also mitigated against the effects of drought by reducing the total grazing pressure in the fenced area. The number of wild animals grazing that area was reduced and pasture was allowed to recover after stock grazing.

The landholder reports biosecurity has been strengthened in the area with a reduction in the number of certain weeds and diseases that are spread by dogs and kangaroos.

Employment of local shearers and shed staff on the property has increased from eight to10 people for seven to eight days to 13 to 14 people for 13 to 14 days. This represents more than $20,000 in additional wages going into the local community. The fence also provides greater labour efficiency with far less time dedicated to wild dog management.

The increase in farm income and success of the wild dog exclusion fence has given the landholder confidence in the future for his farm business and he is no longer losing sleep over the thought of possibly being forced out of the sheep industry.

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