Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Workshop shares alternative grazing approaches

Group discussion on the Canning Stock Route on Cunyu (Kane Watson)

[Jan-Feb 2017]
A workshop demonstrating alternative approaches to total grazing management and feed budgeting was held in December for interested pastoralists. For summary Case Study please see: Cunyu Station: an example in profitable sustainable pastoralism (2016)

Hosted on Cunyu Station, 90km north of Wiluna by owners Ken Shaw and Dawn Martin, the tour demonstrated the outcomes of the alternative approaches adopted on the station and discussed the lessons that this type of system has provided.

Representatives of eight pastoral stations attended the two day tour and learning experience from 16-19 December, which was supported by Rangelands NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

It took in multiple land systems found on Cunyu.

The workshop, allowed Ken and Dawn to share their experiences and display the outcomes of alternative approaches to total grazing management, feed budgeting as well as low stress stock handling and infrastructure.

Rangelands NRM Regional Landcare Facilitative Kane Watson said the event facilitated group discussion about all things pastoral.

“It provided the opportunity to see what innovative, alternative techniques and strategies for integrated pastoral management can achieve when successfully implemented,” he said.

“And, participants could see the condition of the country from these approaches.”

The agenda was set by the participants, and the topics covered varied from fencing (electric versus barbed) purpose and maintenance, yards cost and function, low and high input muster, marketing and business models, land utilization, erosion control, stocking rates and means of landscape regeneration.

Ken Shaw said “the first and foremost action for landscape is managing total grazing pressure.

Not just your livestock but all the large herbivores; brumbies, donkeys, camels, goats and especially kangaroos.”

It is about having a long term strategy which suits your property and business objectives; building appropriate, fit for purpose infrastructure and having the ability for proactive or opportunistic managerial interventions at short notice. That is what we are working towards.”

Tom Jackson from Austin Downs said “Events don’t happen in the rangelands like this anymore, people getting together and talking, sharing experience.”

“It’s an incredible feat what Ken and Dawn have achieved, there are so many things working together here,” David Pollock from Wooleen Station said in reference to incorporated pastoral management system.

“You give yourself options by keeping the country in good condition,” Jason Hastie, Pingandy Station said. “If you have no feed on the ground you have no options—I learnt this through our drought.”

“It made me think about risk management. Keeping stocking low and feed on the ground is my strategy, the cattle is then worth something.”

Mr Watson said events such as this promote the successes and learnings of innovative pastoral enterprise and land management.

“This initiative was to provide an open forum for pastoralists to engage and learn from one another, to share and build capacity and understanding.”

“By demonstrating and discussing, the attendees can then take home alternative strategies to the wider pastoral community,” he said.

Image: Group discussion on the Canning Stock Route on Cunyu (Kane Watson)