Elec­tric fences help curb sheep killings

South Waikato News - - FARMING - By ADEN MILES

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.

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