Electric fences help curb sheep killings
Queensland sheep farmers are taking the fight against feral dogs into their own hands.
Described as an ‘‘epidemic’’ and the biggest social issue facing western Queensland communities, farmers across the state have developed methods to ensure their stock’s safety, in a time that sees up to 20 per cent of livestock massacred from every farm in Barcaldine each year.
Barcaldine sheep farmer Willie Chandler, who oversees two properties spanning 44,000 and 86,000 acres respectively, has seen a 90 per cent increase in sheep production after using highvoltage fences on his properties.
Mr Chandler began installing the electric fences to his properties two years ago and said the results had been ‘‘massive’’.
‘‘It has taken over 18 months to get the fences up and I have still some to go. All of the internal fencing is electric so those paddocks have electric fencing in them. So if a dingo goes in, it wouldn’t be able to get out.’’
At its worst, Mr Chandler said, his enterprise was losing about 300 sheep every year.
But since installing the fences he has seen a huge increase in lamb production.
‘‘Yes, it has been massive. We were losing so many sheep to dingoes each year. We have seen an increase of 80 to 90 per cent in sheep production, a percentage in lambs being born as well. If a dingo does get in, it can’t get out [so it is shot and killed].’’
Before the high-voltage fences, Mr Chandler was killing at least one dingo a week on his property.
‘‘I may find one in the unfenced areas [now] but none in the fenced paddocks. We had to do this because there are just so many of them [dingoes and feral dogs].’’
Meanwhile, Barcaldine Shire Council Mayor Rob Chandler said another measure being taken by farmers was setting traps of poisonous meat.
‘‘The use of 1080 poison has been around for many years. Fresh bait such as kangaroo or other red meats are laced with the poison and either put out by plane or by hand. Other methods used are trapping, shooting and the use of guardian animals.
‘‘These include donkeys, alpacas and guardian dogs. Some individual graziers have resorted to building their own fences.
Mr Chandler told Fairfax New Zealand the impacts of the continued attacks on livestock had greatly impacted local families.
‘‘What has happened out here since 1990 is a mass exodus of shearing families from our communities and a large number of graziers changing over to a cattle enterprise. This affects our schools and businesses, local real estate and jobs, not to mention the loss of production for graziers and our overall GDP,’’ he said.
Aden Miles’ visit to Australia was hosted by Tourism and Events Queensland.