Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Lessons in lowering stock stress to boost productivity on Gascoyne stations

[July 2015]

Thirteen pastoralists from Western Australia’s Gascoyne region attended a two-day Stress Free Stockmanship course at Carey Downs station last month.

The course, sponsored by Rangelands NRM with funding from the Australian Government, aimed to inform and upskill participants in the theory and practice of lowering the livestock stress levels in order to optimise production potential.

Rangelands NRM Program Manager, Southern Rangelands, Jane Bradley said the workshop was one of several capacity building initiatives to be supported in the region that engage communities to promote healthy and productive rangelands.

The group heard from Bruce Maynard, on the background, research and principles of Stress Free Stockmanship and discussed yard design and construction.

Chairman of the Upper Gascoyne LCDC, Jason Hastie, who attended the course, said he learnt about the effects of applying pressure to a mob of animals and how this concept can be applied to move animals that are distant.

“A new concept for me was the idea of pressure waves. Just like disturbing water, the effects of applying pressure to a mob of animals will travel through it, you can see the wave of effect spread out and dissipate through the mob,” he said.

Once you know this you are more aware of your actions on the whole group of animals and you can also apply it in working situations to move larger mobs by influencing animals that are far from you.

The pastoralists had the opportunity for some hands-on learning, working with a mixed group of cattle including cows, weaners, calves and bulls to de-stressed the animals and change their anxiety level.

Mr Hastie said the degree of change in the animals that is possible from Stress Free Stockmanship techniques allowed more sophisticated yard drafting and sorting to be practiced.

“The participants enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and the opportunity to see a marked change in the animals,”  he said.

We are grateful to McKeogh Family at Carey Downs for their hospitality and generosity to host the event.

Images (by Harry McKeough):
(L) Bruce Manyard demonstrating movement of cattle
(R) Participants listen to Bruce talk about yard design and construction