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News: Low stress stock handling training for Meekatharra pastoralists

Meekatharra pastoralists were lucky to have a low stress stock handing expert on hand for two days of training at the end of May.

Boyd Holden, Specialist Advisor and Trainer to the Livestock Industry, with a proven record of designing “Best Practice” workplace training systems, ran the event on Killara Station with 17 participants from the region from 28-29 April 2017.

The event was supported by Rangelands NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, and hosted by Liam and Penny Johns of Killara Station.

Rangelands NRM Regional Landcare Facilitator Kane Watson said Low Stress Stockmanship aims to foster an environment of low stress interaction between people and animals.

“The training is to impart knowledge that promotes a positive attitude to low stress stock handling and demonstrates the benefits of a low stress environment,” Mr Watson said.

Putting these simple techniques to use promotes increased productivity, improved product quality, time and investment efficiencies, improved land management and enterprise profitability with reduced cost of production.

Across the two days there was a mixture of theory and practical to build background knowledge and understanding. This was followed by time in the yards with cattle, applying the knowledge and practicing the skills.

Mr Watson said low stress stock handling has grown as a recognised management technique for land managers.

“Research has shown wide reaching implications from improved stock management through low stress behavior systems.”

“This has included herd health and productivity, improved grazing habits and subsequent environmental benefits, reduced impacts of predation as well as reduced labor costs providing economic incentive to land managers.”

Building on the success of Pilbara demonstrations, prominent pastoralist Liam Johns requested support to host an event in the Meekathara region to improve the capacity of regional land managers with alternative stock management techniques.

The response to the approach applied in training by Boyd Holden has been well received.

“I’m taking a lot away from this course, seeing how it works gives me confidence to put it to use,” Lauren Lewis, from Yarrabubba Station said.

“These techniques are of great benefit to the industry, thanks very much for putting this on,” Adam Howden, from Murchison Downs said.

“It’s been a great couple of days. It was really good to have the young people here learning the right skills from the start,” Bill Johns, from Killara Station station.

“This has been really beneficial and more people should have a crack at it, the presenter was very, very good.” Morrie Seiveright, from Glen Station said.

The event was facilitated with a unit of competency in ‘Livestock Bahaviour Systems’ available for participants, and eight individuals will be going on to complete accreditation for the training.

“Boyd was able to demonstrate through training and promotion that the uptake of this tool has environmental, economic and social benefits,” Mr Watson said.

Image: Stock behavior work in the yards on Killara Station (by Kane Watson)