The Yalgoo Producers Group (Yalgoo PG) is undertaking a study to examine the creation of a dog free ‘cell’ of properties in the Murchison region.
The group was formed in June 2012, with the aim of pursuing strategies that would lead to the re-establishment of a productive and sustainable small stock industry in the Yalgoo-Murchison area.
The three-year study, with support from Rangelands NRM, Gallagher’s fencing, Elders and Southern Wire, and the potential involvement of MLA and CSIRO, will examine whether the dog free œcell concept works in practice on a small scale.
Yalgoo PG coordinator, Neil Grinham said the challenges facing small livestock (sheep and goat) enterprises in WA’s Murchison region as they attempt to run productive, sustainable and profitable businesses are well known.
“Apart from disruptions to live export markets, increases in the number of wild dogs and unmanaged total grazing pressure are making things hard,” he said.
The study will also determine whether changes to management of total grazing pressure and livestock nutrition can result in a more profitable and sustainable small stock enterprise, while at the same time improving the resource base.
The cost of constructing new fence and upgrading existing sections of vermin fence to create the œcell is substantial and significant government investment would be required.
The project involves a paddock scale trial site on œMeka Station, about 120 km NNE of Yalgoo which will be stocked with 370 Damara/Dorper cross ewes, with white Dorper rams over them, aiming to produce lambs for the domestic trade.
Mr Grinham said fencing has been upgraded to a dog-proof standard, as well as to inhibit the movement of herbivores. Any residual dogs caught inside the completed œcell will be eliminated, and goats and kangaroos subject to a high level of control.
“Stocking rates will be adjusted as required, depending on the amount of pasture available,” Mr Grinham said.
Additionally, ‘stress-free’ stock handling methods and nutritional supplements will be trialled to examine their potential use in modifying the grazing behaviour and plant preferences of sheep.
Field cameras (video/still) will be used to gather information on sheep grazing preferences, access to nutritional supplements and any attempts by dogs to breach the fence.