Pastoral Pastoral Pastoral Pastoral MEMO - FutureBeef

of 31 /31
Pastoral Pastoral Pastoral Pastoral Pastoral MEMO MEMO MEMO MEMO MEMO Copyright © Western Australian Agriculture Authority, 2008 Northern Pastoral Region PO Box 19, Kununurra WA 6743 Phone: (08) 9166 4019 Email: [email protected] December 2008 ISSN 1033-5757 Vol. 29, No. 4 EDITOR: Matthew Fletcher Visit http://www.agric.wa.gov.au CONTENTS Chance of exceeding median rainfall—December 2008 to February 2009 ............................................... 2 Long-term monitoring yields interesting results … .................................................................................. 3 Message from the editor ......................................................................................................................... 6 Bush Nurse ............................................................................................................................................ 7 How important are female sales to business profitability? ....................................................................... 8 Electrolytes and long distance transport .............................................................................................. 10 Dehorning and movement of cattle ........................................................................................................ 12 Date claimer ......................................................................................................................................... 12 Lead residue risks on-farm for livestock ................................................................................................ 13 Pilbara representative for NBIC and NABRC ......................................................................................... 14 From the top of the windmill ................................................................................................................. 14 Investigating priority Pilbara water resources to secure supply ............................................................. 16 New project in the north ....................................................................................................................... 17 A changing of the guard ........................................................................................................................ 18 Ringers Rangeland Course ................................................................................................................... 19 Grazing Land Management workshop .................................................................................................. 20 Grazing Land Management workshop expression of interest ................................................................ 21 Carbon capture project ......................................................................................................................... 22 New DVD to help rural men .................................................................................................................. 23 Australian Rangelands Conference—Charters Towers, Queensland ...................................................... 24 Farewell to Bargie ................................................................................................................................ 26 Rangelands 2008 – Taking the pulse .................................................................................................... 27 EcoFire wins the WA Environment Award ............................................................................................. 28 West Australian Wild Dog DNA Project ................................................................................................ 29 Camels via satellite .............................................................................................................................. 30 Cattle Market Update ........................................................................................................................... 31

Embed Size (px)

Transcript of Pastoral Pastoral Pastoral Pastoral MEMO - FutureBeef

untitledPastoral Pastoral Pastoral Pastoral Pastoral MEMOMEMOMEMOMEMOMEMO Copyright © Western Australian Agriculture Authority, 2008
Northern Pastoral Region PO Box 19, Kununurra WA 6743 Phone: (08) 9166 4019 Email: [email protected]
December 2008 ISSN 1033-5757 Vol. 29, No. 4
EDITOR: Matthew Fletcher
Visit http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
CONTENTS Chance of exceeding median rainfall—December 2008 to February 2009 ............................................... 2 Long-term monitoring yields interesting results … .................................................................................. 3 Message from the editor ......................................................................................................................... 6 Bush Nurse ............................................................................................................................................ 7 How important are female sales to business profitability? ....................................................................... 8 Electrolytes and long distance transport .............................................................................................. 10 Dehorning and movement of cattle ........................................................................................................ 12 Date claimer ......................................................................................................................................... 12 Lead residue risks on-farm for livestock ................................................................................................ 13 Pilbara representative for NBIC and NABRC ......................................................................................... 14 From the top of the windmill ................................................................................................................. 14 Investigating priority Pilbara water resources to secure supply ............................................................. 16 New project in the north ....................................................................................................................... 17 A changing of the guard ........................................................................................................................ 18 Ringers Rangeland Course ................................................................................................................... 19 Grazing Land Management workshop .................................................................................................. 20 Grazing Land Management workshop expression of interest ................................................................ 21 Carbon capture project ......................................................................................................................... 22 New DVD to help rural men .................................................................................................................. 23 Australian Rangelands Conference—Charters Towers, Queensland ...................................................... 24 Farewell to Bargie ................................................................................................................................ 26 Rangelands 2008 – Taking the pulse .................................................................................................... 27 EcoFire wins the WA Environment Award ............................................................................................. 28 West Australian Wild Dog DNA Project ................................................................................................ 29 Camels via satellite .............................................................................................................................. 30 Cattle Market Update ........................................................................................................................... 31
2 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
Front page photo courtesy of Don Hadden, Mt Barnett
CHANCE OF EXCEEDING MEDIAN RAINFALL— DECEMBER 2008 TO FEBRUARY 2009
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 3
PASTORAL MEMO – NORTHERN PASTORAL REGION DECEMBER 2008
LONG-TERM MONITORING YIELDS INTERESTING RESULTS… [See page 5 for the full story]
Study site in June 1996, one year after fire (1670 kg/ha standing dry matter). Wet season rainfall at Halls Creek was 603 mm (Nov-Apr).
Study site in August 2008, one year after fire (2470 kg/ha standing dry matter). Wet season rainfall at Halls Creek was 619 mm.
4 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
Fi gu
re 1
E st
im at
ed d
ry m
at te
LONG-TERM MONITORING YIELDS INTERESTING RESULTS… Andrew Craig and David Hadden, Kununurra
Background This article discusses changes in pasture composition observed at a study site in open eucalypt savanna near Halls Creek. The site was established in a recently burnt area (then part of Moola Bulla Station) in August 1995. It was one of a number of sites set up in consultation with Kimberley station managers to investigate the effects of fire on different pasture types. Vegetation data have been collected from this site during the dry season in most years, although in 2001 and 2002 the researchers were thwarted by early fires. The soil is a dark brown sandy loam with some quartz gravel at the surface.
The site is close to the highway and its fire history has been well documented, thanks to reports from passing rangeland officers. Since 1995 the site has been completely or partially burnt on six occasions, four of which were late in the dry season. Seasonal conditions have been generally favourable, with wet season rainfall below the long-term average for only three of the last 13 wet seasons (Halls Creek: records since 1944). The average wet season rainfall since 1995 has been about 28% above the long-term average. There has been no significant grazing by stock during the study, with no accessible bores in operation. It appears likely that more grazing would have occurred in earlier years when the highway was unfenced, with two mapped bores within 5-6 km of the site.
Results to date When first sampled in 1996 the site had a good coverage of short-lived grasses of low stature, in particular nineawn (Enneapogon sp.) and bunched windgrass (Aristida contorta). There were very few tussocks of mid-height perennial grasses. The pasture seemed to fit the description of ‘Arid Short Grass’, a pasture type frequently identified during the 1949-52 CSIRO survey of the Ord- Victoria region. As such its condition was rated good.
Since 1996 there has been a marked decline in the relative abundance of short grasses, with nineawn falling from an estimated 73% of the pasture dry matter in 1996 to levels below 12% since 2004 (Figure 1). In contrast, perennial grasses have been increasing in importance. By 2008 white grass (Sehima nervosum) had increased from nil to an estimated 22%, black spear grass (Heteropogon contortus) from <1% to 12% and ribbon grass (Chrysopogon fallax) from 1% to 11%.
Observations to date suggest that the study area is capable of supporting a good stand of native perennial grasses, calling into question the correctness of the originally identified pasture type. A plausible explanation for the change in pasture composition is that a reduction of grazing pressure, together with a run of mainly good seasons, has encouraged a gradual return to the more perennial- dominated state we now see. It is interesting to note that the changes seen have occurred in the context of a poorly controlled fire regime, with fires occurring at intervals of 1-3 years.
The future The surrounding land is no longer within the pastoral lease, but it is hoped that monitoring of this important site can continue for some years to come. The results will contribute towards an improved understanding of pasture types in the East Kimberley, which should in turn lead to more reliable estimation of their carrying capacities when in good, fair and poor condition.
The present and previous managers of Moola Bulla Station are thanked for their cooperation during this study.
For further information contact: Andrew Craig, DAFWA, Kununurra. Phone: (08) 9166 4015; Email: [email protected]
6 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR
I look forward to posting this Pastoral Memo to all readers—there is a feast of excellent articles relevant to the Pilbara and Kimberley. The feature article ‘Long term monitoring yields interesting results…’. Check out what the grass mechanics have been up to—discussing the changes in pasture species composition at a long-term study site near Halls Creek.
With the wet season hopefully upon us and hopefully a few cyclone influences there will be plenty of time for readers to mull over the following articles. The first article, ‘How important are female sales to business profitability?’, is a nuts and bolts discussion about managing female cattle herds better. Another article ‘Dehorning and movement of cattle’ reminds us of the importance of a no tolerance approach to poor animal welfare and rangeland management practices in maintaining the live export industry.
Unfortunately, Bush Nurse (Joy Motter) has decided to hang up the pen after contributing to the Pastoral Memo for five years. Readers will miss the Bush Nurse’s informative articles adapted to life in the Northern Rangelands. Thanks Joy for contributing to the Pastoral Memo over the past five years—your articles and sense of humour will be missed.
Stress and depression is not often discussed in conversation, however, according to Beyond Blue, ‘depression affects one in six men’. For those wanting to know more about this topic it would be recommended to read the article ‘New DVD to help rural men’ and call Sally to obtain your copy of the DVD. Even if you are comfortable with your health, watching this video will be very worthwhile.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology the Western Australian outlook for total rainfall over summer (December to February) shows a moderate tendency in the odds to favour higher than normal totals over western to central WA. The chance of exceeding median rainfall this summer in the south of the Pilbara is much better at between 60% and 70%. This means that for every 10 years with ocean patterns like the present, about six or seven years are expected to be wetter than average in these regions, while about three or four years are expected to be drier. The chance of exceeding median rainfall this summer in the Kimberley is between 55% and 60%, meaning that above average falls are about equally likely as below average falls in these regions.
Happy reading
Matthew Fletcher
Please check the address label on your publication. If it is incorrect or if you would like to be included on our mailing list, let us know!
Disclaimer This material has been written for Western Australian conditions. Its availability does not imply suitability to other areas, and any interpretation or use is the responsibility of the user. Mention of product or trade names does not imply recommendation, and any omissions are unintentional. Recommendations were
current at the time of preparation of the original publication.
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 7
BUSH NURSE
Joy Motter
Christmas and holiday time is almost upon us when we celebrate with family and friends. Due to a lot of good cooks out there, who make tasty and delicious goodies, we tend to over eat.
Here are a few tips to help shed the weight gain and make your clothes feel looser.
EAT LESS—Use a small dinner plate, hopefully this ‘tricks’ your mind into thinking you’ve had a plateful.
A healthy meal looks like this on the plate: ½ plate salad/veggies (fresh, frozen, tinned) ¼ plate protein (lean meat, fish, lentils/baked beans) ¼ plate carbohydrate (potato, rice, noodles, pasta)
No food/snacks after the evening meal—drink water or chew sugarless gum.
EXERCISE—Do you have a treadmill or exercise bike shoved away in the shed?
Pull it out and set it up in front of the TV. Watch your favourite show as you do 30 minutes exercise—helps keep your mind occupied as exercising can be boring—at least five days a week.
One for the ladies—loss of bone density is a problem as people get older. Resistance weight lifting can help slow the process. Buy 2 x 500 g bags of rice and cover the plastic with an old stocking or material. If using an exercise bike you can weight lift while cycling. Take a bag in each hand at shoulder level, slowly raise hands into air until arms are straight, count to five and slowly lower your arms/hands to shoulder—repeat 5 to 10 times. When OK with that, try the two bags in one hand and raise and lower arm.
Another similar exercise is to take a bag in each hand, extend arms sideways, slowly raise together to meet over your head and count to five and slowly lower, repeating 5 to 10 times.
Legs and knees—with feet together (done on a step or brick if large enough), using left foot first, step up then raise right foot to step. With left foot, step down followed by the right foot—do this five times, then swap to the right foot first etc.
These exercises are also good for stiff joints but go slowly at first.
Wishing all readers a safe and happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year for 2009.
8 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
PROFITABILITY? Peter Smith, DAFWA, Karratha
There is an old saying across much of northern Australia that ‘male sales run the place and female sales are the profit’. While this might not be strictly correct in all situations, it highlights the fact that roughly 50% of the calves branded/marked each year are females but the number of females sold often averages less than 40% of total sales.
The number of females sold as a percentage of total sales over a number of years (to average out some of the ‘ups and downs’ herd build-up, etc.) is a good indication of female wastage. The information to calculate this information can be accurately calculated from sale records. If the number of males and females sold is not recorded at the time sales are made it is usually documented on the Account Sales document. The value of sale records is that they are ‘real’ and do not include estimates like branding percentages often need to!
The relevance of historical female sales as a percentage of total sales is demonstrated in the table below. The difference between 30% and 40% female sales indicates a difference of 20 head of females that are still on the property for each 100 head of cattle sold over the years. If breeder numbers have not been increasing, these females are still on the property but as expensive fertiliser. The relevance of these numbers is even more apparent when it is multiplied across actual sale numbers, for example for each 1000 head sold some 200 females are still on the station.
Female sales percentage is a good indicator of female wastage in breeder herds. So what are some options to reduce female wastage if it is a problem for your business?
The risk of losing females is usually highest around the time of their first calving and lactation and again as their teeth start to break up as they age. The heifer/young breeder issue is about the nutrition available not being good enough to support the requirements for the heifer to grow itself and feed a calf. With older cows with developing dental issues it is more about becoming increasingly unable to chew feed adequately. This is certainly more serious towards the end of the year when available feed is more fibrous and less nutritious.
Managing heifers and young breeders to improve their survival and productivity is recognised as a problem across northern Australia.
Pastoralists, MLA and agriculture departments in WA, NT and Queensland have been involved in researching this issue for a number of years. While a number of contributing causes of sub optimal performance have been identified, most of the solutions are not feasible without control and segregation of this group of animals within breeder herds to allow appropriately targeted management.
Table 1 Example: Impact of 30% and 40% female sales/total sales for each 100 head sold
40% female sales 30% female sales
Males 60 head 70 head Females 40 head (40%) 30 head (30%) Calves branded to achieve these male sale numbers
120 (60 male:60 female) 140 (70 male:70 female)
Females not sold (compared to males) 20 head 40 head
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 9
PASTORAL MEMO – NORTHERN PASTORAL REGION DECEMBER 2008
Appropriate practices that might be considered for inclusion in a heifer and young breeder management program to improve survival and productivity include:
• control the time of calving to coincide with the ‘best bet’ time of having good nutrition from pastures
• pregnancy test and cull empty heifers that have not conceived after three months of mating • if unable to control mating/calving, conduct two weaning rounds and be prepared to manage the
smaller and younger weaners appropriately • consider supplementation during their first dry season as pregnant heifers—to ensure they calve
in better body condition and improve the probability of them conceiving again as lactating first calf cows.
Improving the productivity of young breeders means that more heifers will be surplus to requirements and can be sold to live export or possibly southern markets. It may be necessary to consider spaying these surplus heifers to ensure they remain empty and marketable to the live export market.
What to do with aged cows is a perennial argument in many areas of the rangelands. From an animal welfare and moral perspective it is no longer acceptable to allow cows to ‘die on the place’ because there is no market for them.
Management practices such as progressively spaying cows from about 7-8 years of age or paddocking them in areas where bulls can be kept out—rare indeed in the rangelands— will ensure that deaths are minimised and female sales to live export markets are possible.
If effective management options like these are not possible the preferred option from a welfare perspective is to ‘humanely destroy’ these aged breeders before they become a welfare issue by becoming bogged at watering points or have difficulty in getting up, etc.
Conclusions:
• The number of females sold as a percentage of total sales averaged over a number of years is a good indicator of female wastage.
• Wastage usually occurs around the time of first calving and lactation and late in the dry season for aged cows.
• Survival and productivity of heifers and young breeders can be improved but they must be segregated from the breeder herd to allow appropriate management.
• Sale numbers and values of older cows can be increased with appropriate management which may include spaying or segregation, etc.
• Increasing female turnoff numbers will improve the bottom line.
Heifers should be managed to calve in good condition when nutrition is likely to be good.
10 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
ELECTROLYTES AND LONG DISTANCE TRANSPORT
Manus Stockdale and Rebecca Dray, DAFWA Karratha and Renata Paliskis-Bessell, WAMIA Perth
Cattle transported long distances by road can lose significant liveweight. This is particularly relevant to cattle being transported for sale as most cattle are traded on a liveweight basis. In early September DAFWA Karratha staff, together with the Western Australian Meat Industry Authority (WAMIA), conducted a trial to measure weight loss during transport from a Pilbara property to Midland saleyards and to investigate the effect of electrolytes in reducing weight loss between property and time of sale.
WAMIA run the Midland Sale Yards and are keen to make the saleyards a more attractive destination for pastoral cattle. The use of electrolytes before and after transport is an option being investigated that may reduce the loss of weight by cattle travelling long distances.
Top Stock was the electrolyte product used in this trial. The product has been used in the Northern Territory by the live export industry; apparently with good results. Top Stock can be administered as a drench or mixed with feed or water. The recommended dose for cattle mixed with water or feed is 5-10 mL per head per day.
The electrolyte trial was carried out at Mt Florance Station in the west Pilbara using 126 steers and heifers with an average weight of 296 kg sold for delivery ‘over the scales’ at Midland.
The cattle had been mustered between late July and early August and put in a holding paddock with good feed awaiting later sale. The cattle were yarded from a well grassed holding paddock on Sunday afternoon and remained on water but off feed overnight. On the following day the mob was drafted and the sale cattle individually weighed and drafted into two groups for the trial.
One group was given electrolyte in their water trough and the other group had access to untreated water. Both groups were fed shipper pellets from a common trough between the two pens. The cattle were on feed and water for 36 hours before being weighed again and loaded for transport to Midland to arrive Thursday morning.
On arrival at Midland the electrolyte treated animals were again given access to treated water. All the cattle were fed hay from arrival to the commencement of a 12-hour wet curfew prior to their sale weighing on Saturday afternoon.
Results
The overall weight loss from the initial weight taken at Mt Florance to the sale weight at Midland was relatively low for both treatments at an average loss of 1.7% of live weight (5.1 kg/head). There was little difference between weight loss of the treated and control animals (Table 1). The sex of the cattle and their position on the truck had little effect on their weight loss. The Top Stock treated animals consumed significantly more water while at Midland but this did not translate into live weight gain.
Table 1 Live weight loss of electrolyte treated and control cattle from time of drafting at Mt Florance to sale at Midland Sale Yards
Overall weight loss Treatment n
kg % Electrolyte 69 5 1.7 Control 57 6 1.9
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 11
PASTORAL MEMO – NORTHERN PASTORAL REGION DECEMBER 2008
While this trial did not demonstrate a response to electrolytes, the importance of the time of weighing for sale was highlighted. The weight loss between loading at Mt Florance (full weight) and being sold at Midland averaged about 7.5% of live weight for both groups (Table 2). All weight changes recorded during this trial are assumed to be due to changes in gut fill.
If cattle are sold on property with an agreed discount for weight loss during trucking the amount of discount and the time of weighing for sale need to be carefully considered to ensure the terms are fair to both the seller and the buyer.
The trial raises a number of questions regarding pre-transport feeding and handling of cattle and sales opportunities. What is the ideal preparation for cattle prior to trucking? In what circumstances are electrolytes most effective? What is the value in terms of transport weight loss of keeping cattle in holding paddocks reserved for the purpose for a period prior to transport? What is the real cost of trucking cattle south for sale compared to trucking them shorter distances to live export ports?
Cattle that are quiet, well handled and prepared for transport with adequate feed and water lose little weight in the truck and recover well on feed and water after
reaching their destination.
Table 2 Weight loss for electrolyte treated and control cattle between time of leaving Mt Florance and being sold at Midland. Cattle were on feed up until trucking
Weight loss (pre trucking to sale) Treatment n
kg % Electrolyte 69 -23 -7.3 Control 57 -24 -7.6
12 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
DEHORNING AND MOVEMENT OF CATTLE
Matt Bullard, Veterinary Officer, Broome Peter Smith, DAFWA, Karratha
There have been some incidences of the inappropriate loading and transportation of recently dehorned cattle that constituted welfare issues and probable prosecutions in relation to those cattle.
Loading and transportation of animals with an open wound or any ‘raw’ surface for any reason, be it for export, slaughter, to saleyards or to any other location or property, should be avoided. This is of special importance for cattle that may be subject to further processing such as dipping for tick control or as a movement condition. The penetration of open dehorning wounds by the (often heavily contaminated) dipping agents can cause severe side effects for that animal.
The MLA guide to best practice husbandry in beef cattle—branding, castration and dehorning (copies available at DAFWA offices)—advocates that after dehorning and/or castration, cattle be returned to a clean, dust-free environment (i.e. the paddock) as soon as possible.
The guide also states that cattle should be dehorned at their first muster and preferably before they are six months of age. While this is not always feasible, dehorning—or in the case of older animals, tipping—should always be undertaken at the first opportunity to minimise welfare issues at the time of sale.
Where cattle are to be transported to another property or another area within the same property, such procedures should be carried out upon arrival at the destination, not before the journey. If this is not practical, those animals should be allowed to sufficiently heal to allow the exposed areas to dry and seal before transport at a lighter loading density to reduce the likelihood of secondary damage.
The time taken for sufficient healing will vary according to the extent of the injury or wound. A lightly tipped horn may only require a few days compared to a severely dehorned animal with a significant hole into the frontal sinuses of the skull which may take several months. The rule of thumb should be that the secondary rubbing of any area will not result in exposed tissues or bleeding.
It should also be pointed out that the exposure of such practices to the public during transportation and subsequent sale should be avoided if the industry is to further develop its positive public image in relation to animal welfare. Not only must the industry make every effort to do the right thing it must be seen to be doing the right thing!
To quote one transport operator: ‘There are around two million would-be animal welfare inspectors in WA—the general public.’
DATE CLAIMER The 2009 PGA Kimberley Division Bull Sale will be held at the Fitzroy Crossing Rodeo Yards on Friday, 21 August—please enter the date in your 2009 diary.
For further information please contact: Edgar Richardson (PGA Perth) — 0409 945 430 Jim Motter — 9191 7141 Keith Anderson — 9191 4748
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 13
LEAD RESIDUE RISKS ON-FARM FOR LIVESTOCK
Anita Drage, Animal Health, Perth
Old lead batteries are the most common cause of lead poisoning in livestock. Battery cases become brittle over time and are easily broken by inquisitive cattle. The lead and lead salts that they contain are easily accessed and readily eaten by livestock. A cattle property in Albany had livestock deaths directly related to calves accessing a burnt pile of batteries. The ash and plastic eaten by the calves resulted in toxic levels of lead and several calves died before the source was determined.
Dispose of old lead batteries appropriately. Contact your local shire office to determine what waste facilities are available for disposal of old batteries.
Other causes of lead poisoning in stock include: • licking and eating lead based paint from old paint tins • buildings and other painted materials • eating ashes left after burning old painted materials • eating linoleum • drinking sump oil • silage contaminated with lead shot • automotive grease and oil filters • caulking, putty • even access to leadlight windows have also caused fatal lead poisoning of stock. Recently several different lines of sheep at the abattoirs have been detected with lead residues. Upon traceback and investigation to the properties concerned all sheep had been chewing sheds and buildings that had been painted in previous years with lead based paint. Sheep were now chewing the paint off these buildings located in the paddocks; as lead is sweet tasting it provided a delightful addition to grazing.
All farming properties across the state would have these buildings as risks. To determine if livestock are chewing the paint off, check for teeth marks and scraping of paint. All risk buildings should either be removed or fenced off.
Under the Livestock Production Assurance program all producers should have conducted a residue risk assessment as part of their requirement to using and signing National Vendor Declarations for livestock sales. Ensuring that all residue risks are eliminated on- farm is part of that program.
14 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
PILBARA REPRESENTATIVE FOR NBIC AND NABRC Peter Smith, DAFWA, Karratha
Pilbara pastoralists will soon receive a notice in the mail calling for nominations to represent the Pilbara cattle industry on the Northern Beef Industry Committee (NBIC) and the North Australian Beef Research Council (NABRC).
Murray Grey, the previous Pilbara representative on these groups tendered his resignation at the industry consultation meeting held at Yalleen recently. An extract from his letter of resignation reads as follows: ‘This decision has not been made lightly as I feel privileged to have represented the Pilbara beef industry at a national level’.
On behalf of the Pilbara cattle industry I would like to thank Murray for his efforts while in the position and wish him well with his future in the northern cattle industry.
The role of the regional representatives includes supporting the development of research proposals targeting issues of their local cattle industry and reviewing proposals from other areas of northern Australia which may have relevance to their area. Representation on these groups helps ensure that your research levy $’s are invested in activities of benefit to the northern WA cattle industry.
FROM THE TOP OF THE WINDMILL
Tom Vickers, Kununurra
Windmills
The number of working windmills across the Kimberley is slowly declining. Due to a lack of servicing, e.g. checking oil levels and tightening loose blades, mills are breaking down and not being replaced. A windmill should be serviced every three months. When a problem occurs in the gear box of a windmill (the head) it is common for the station to use a crane to pull the whole gear box off and lower it to the ground where it can be fixed—however crane hire can be very expensive and difficult to get on site. Another method is to unbolt the gear box and lower it piece by piece to the ground until the problem is fixed then lift the gear box back up piece by piece where it is reassembled. Expensive insurance premiums for staff working at heights and a lack of skilled staff available to repair and maintain windmills are major reasons why the number of working windmills is decreasing and why many windmills are being replaced by submersible pumps.
Submersible pumps
Submersible pumps with poly pipe are relatively easy to pull up and put back down when required. A skilled team can pull up a submersible pump (100 m) in half an hour. This task would have usually taken most of the day if traditional steel piping had been used.
When using a generator to create power for a submersible pump it is recommended that a four pole alternator be used instead of a two pole alternator. Four pole alternators are better suited to working long hours in hot conditions.
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 15
PASTORAL MEMO – NORTHERN PASTORAL REGION DECEMBER 2008
It is also important to have the generator running at the optimum speed; for a two pole alternator the generator will need to run at 3000 rpm and for a four pole it will need to run at 1500 rpm. This can be checked using a kilohertz and voltage meter which plugs in between the generator and the submersible pump; it is best to be checked while pumping water. To confirm the rpm are correct, the kilohertz will read 50—this is the same for all electrical pumps. The throttle on the motor can then be adjusted up or down to ensure the correct revolutions per minute (rpm).
Remember, ‘anything that goes fast doesn’t last long’.
Tanks
Tanks filled using a solar pump should have a float switch in the tank. This simple device, which costs about $100, will prevent any wasted overflow and increase the life of the pump as it will be required to pump less. If installed, the relatively cheap cost of a float switch could, over time, save you a considerable amount of maintenance on the pumping system.
Piping and trough maintenance
All pipes should be laid at least 300 mm underground. This can be achieved with the station grader by using the corner of the blade to form a trench and then back-filling once the pipe line is in place. When using two inch (50 mm) pipe it is not recommended that water be pumped more than 7 kilometres as friction can pose a major problem. Elevation along the length of the line must also be taken into consideration as this will also impact on the distance water can be pushed.
The first 6-8 metres of piping from a trough should be steel and not poly pipe. As part of yearly station maintenance, dirt scoured out from around troughs should be pushed back in so all ages of stock have easy access to water. A more permanent cement apron should be built around heavily used troughs where annual maintenance is not sufficient.
Other tips
• In sandy country around Kununurra it is common for underground streams to move. • Where possible, never push the bore more than 60% of the maximum flow rate—as
recommended by the driller. When you pump too hard sand, silt, clay and rock can be sucked into the underground stream, reducing its ability to receive water. If this happens, the pump can start sucking sand causing severe damage to the pump. It is better to pump at a slower rate over a longer period.
• It is recommended that stations assign a staff member to accompany and learn from an expert when he is working on a problem on their station.
16 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
INVESTIGATING PRIORITY PILBARA WATER
RESOURCES TO SECURE SUPPLY
Throughout the next three years the Department of Water will be looking at water resources and their management in the Pilbara. The key areas being investigated include the West Canning Basin and the alluvial aquifers associated with Millstream, lower Fortescue, lower Robe, Yule, De Grey and Turner rivers. Some work will also be undertaken to assess water available from alluvial aquifers underlying the Cane, Maitland and George rivers.
Staff from the department and contractors will be visiting these sites to assess how much water is available and how best to manage the water resources. Management of water resources aims to protect water use for stock and domestic purposes, water for the environment and water to support cultural and social values, as well as meet water needs for industry and town supplies.
Work you might see occurring locally will include relocating and, if necessary, rehabilitating existing bores, conducting water quality sampling and pump testing at some aquifers. These types of on- site activities will be combined with existing information from gauging stations and monitoring bores and some airborne mapping to build computer models of aquifers and rivers. These will help us understand what might occur if climate or water use patterns change.
Stations will be contacted prior to entering a lease to check that there will be no interference with station operations such as mustering.
Funding for this work is, in part, provided by the Australian Government’s Water Smart Australia program, and will help the department, community and industry to plan for and protect water supplies, as well as identify opportunities for additional water use. These uses could include water use to support pastoral diversification (refer ‘Water management in the rangelands’ fact sheet www.water.wa.gov.au) and meet the growing needs of industry.
These activities follow the recent release of the Pilbara Regional Plan. Two other documents due to be released soon are: Pilbara Coast Water Study and Pilbara Water in Mining Guideline.
Management of demand for water from coastal groundwater sources in the Pilbara is increasingly needed due to growth from towns for public water supply, ports and mining operations. Some mines have been progressive and improved their water efficiency and the department encourages this conservative approach to water use by all.
Information from these studies, stakeholders and the community about economic, environmental, social and cultural water issues will be used for a water resource management plan that will include allocation limits and rules to better manage water abstraction for the long term and the wellbeing of the Pilbara community.
For further information about this project contact:
Mike Braimbridge Email [email protected] or phone 6364 6831
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 17
PASTORAL MEMO – NORTHERN PASTORAL REGION DECEMBER 2008
Pilbara WSA Project—Study Areas Legend 1 Cane River 6 George River 2 Robe River 7 Yule River 3 Lower Fortescue 8 Turner River 4 Maitland River 9 De Grey River 5 Millstream 10 West Canning Basin
NEW PROJECT IN THE NORTH
Mark Alchin, Industry Development—Rangelands
A new project exploring the opportunities and risks of emissions trading in the WA Rangelands has commenced (see this issue for further information). I am relocating from Meekatharra to Kununurra in late December and I will be continuing my work in leading the Carbon Capture Project. I will also be involved in various other industry development activities in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions. I am originally from Queensland and I have been in Meekatharra for almost five years where I have been involved in livestock productivity and grazing management projects. I am near the completion of a part-time PhD which investigated the impact of two different grazing systems on two commercial businesses in the Lower Murchison. I have a Bachelor of Applied Science (Crops and Rangelands) with Honours from the University of Queensland. My wife and I are looking forward to being based in the Kimberley and I encourage you to contact me if you are interested in or wish to provide input for the Carbon Capture project.
18 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
A CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Noel Wilson, Kununurra
Preparations for the gradual evolution of the long-running Kimberley Zone Control Authority (ZCA) to a more flexible structure with enhanced industry involvement and control, took another step closer when the Kimberley Rangelands Biosecurity Association was recently incorporated.
All Kimberley pastoralists had previously been contacted by direct letter to explain the changes, which will shortly see a total of 17 previously discrete but outmoded Acts replaced by the new Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 and its supporting suite of modernised Regulations.
During the transitional period, the existing Zone Control Authority and the new incorporated Association (to be known as a Recognised Biosecurity Group or RBG under the new legislative framework) will operate in parallel for a short period.
It is hoped that everything will be ready for the RBG to assume full control by July 2009, at which point the existing ZCA will be formally abolished.
An interim Management Committee has been appointed to guide the new Association until such time as a formal Annual General Meeting can be held. Well-known Kimberley identities Jim Motter and Jack Burton have agreed to act as Chair and Vice-Chair of the new Association respectively. Kununurra local Dick Pasfield (Ord Land & Water) accepted a nomination to act as interim Secretary/Treasurer. Other members of the existing ZCA have agreed to fill remaining positions on the interim Management Committee until they can be ratified by the full membership of the new Association.
Chris Richardson, Chair of the Agriculture Protection Board and of the new Biosecurity Council, was on hand for the joint Kimberley ZCA and PGA Branch meeting in Broome recently. During a lull in proceedings, Chris took the opportunity to present Jim Motter and Dick Pasfield with the Certificate of Incorporation for the new Association, signifying a ‘changing of the guard’ and a new era in relations between the Kimberley pastoral industry and the WA Department of Agriculture and Food.
Chris urged all pastoralists across the Region to embrace the new Association, and to make full use of its new-found freedom to operate in accordance with the industry’s wishes.
Jim Motter and Dick Pasfield, Chair and Secretary/Treasurer of the newly formed Kimberley
Rangelands Biosecurity Association Inc., receive the group’s Certificate of Incorporation from Chris Richardson,
APB Chair, and Noel Wilson, Chair of the Kimberley ZCA—Broome, October 2008.
[From left to right: Noel Wilson, Chris Richardson, Jim Motter, Dick Pasfield]
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 19
RINGERS RANGELAND COURSE
An introduction to property, pasture and cattle management in the Kimberley A hands-on practical course designed for people working in the cattle industry
Targeting stock camps and other station staff
• Free of charge • One-day course • Held on station at a time suited to your program • Can combine with other stations’ staff
Topics covered include:
• Pasture identification and dynamics including a field visit • Weed management • Fire management • Animal nutrition • Station infrastructure planning exercise
Please indicate your interest in running or being part of a workshop in your area.
Please fax to the Department of Agriculture and Food in Derby on 9191 0344.
For further information or to arrange a course, please contact Michael Jeffery or Anne Marie Huey, DAFWA, Derby on 9191 0333.
Station name
Prefer to travel to another venue
Preferred dates/time of training
Contact name and phone number
20 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
Grazing Land Management Grazing Land Management Workshops are proposed for:
• Halls Creek (24-26 March) • Derby/West Kimberley (30 March-1 April) • North Kimberley • Kununurra • Fitzroy Crossing. For more information about the Halls Creek workshop, please contact Mervyn Whortley (Ruby Plains Station) on 9168 8915 or Anne Marie Huey (DAFWA, Derby) on 9191 0333.
Over the past year Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), Department of Agriculture and Food and local pastoralists have been working together to develop a Grazing Land Management (GLM) package for the Kimberley. Similar GLM packages have been developed and presented to producers across northern Australia with great success. A pilot run on Quanbun Station in early 2008 made sure of its relevance to Kimberley pastoralists and now it is ready to be presented across the Kimberley.
Be sure to attend and see how some of your producer levies have been spent!
Strategies to increase profit and sustainability
Meat & Livestock Australia’s EDGEnetwork® Grazing Land Management (GLM) workshop will help you develop grazing management strategies to increase profit and sustainability.
Individual and local issues with follow-up advice
The training involves a three-day workshop, with a preparation and introductory session, and a follow- up/refresher day six to nine months later to discuss achievements and address any issues.
As a participant, you have ongoing access to the presenters for advice and support, even after the workshop ends.
Key workshop topics
1. Understanding the grazing ecosystem 2. Managing grazing 3. Managing with fire 4. Balancing trees and grass 5. Pasture improvement 6. Managing weeds 7. Developing a grazing management plan
The GLM workshop can help you answer these questions:
• What condition are my paddocks in? • Can I improve their carrying capacity? • If I am buying more land, how do I know what it is really worth? • What role should fire play in my property management? • How can I get the right balance of trees and pasture? • Which sown pastures are suited to my property and are they worth using?
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 21
PASTORAL MEMO – NORTHERN PASTORAL REGION DECEMBER 2008
Grazing Land Management To express your interest in attending a Kimberley Grazing Land Management workshop, complete this form and fax back to:
Department of Agriculture and Food—Fax (08) 9191 0334
For more information contact:
Anne Marie Huey, Grazing Land Management Officer, DAFWA, Derby PO Box 278, DERBY WA 6728 Phone: (08) 9191 0333 Fax: (08) 9191 0334
Details
Email ..........................................................................................................................................
Privacy—The information you are providing may be personal information under the Privacy Act. It is collected for MLA’s business purposes only and will not be disclosed to any third party except in accordance with MLA’s privacy policy. The privacy policy can be obtained directly from MLA by calling 1800 023 100, or from our website www.mla.com.au
22 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
CARBON CAPTURE PROJECT
Mark Alchin, Industry Development, Meekatharra
Agriculture is the second largest contributor to Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions (~16% of total). Therefore, any national policy measures taken to address climate change will undoubtedly have direct and indirect impacts on individual pastoral businesses throughout the WA Rangelands. The proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) is the centrepiece of the Commonwealth Government’s plan to meet its long-term emission reduction targets. Regardless of whether agriculture is directly included in the proposed CPRS, it may affect individual pastoral businesses in the following ways: 1. Increase in the cost of fuel, particularly enterprises which currently rely heavily on aerial
mustering and are required to transport livestock long distances. 2. Increased interest from corporate investment to acquire or sublease pastoral land for
biosequestration related activities (e.g. agroforestry, biofuel production, etc.). 3. Enhanced financial impetus for existing land managers to improve production efficiency (e.g.
faster weight gains, higher calving percentages, rigorous culling of poor performers). 4. Increased uptake of recommended sustainable grazing management practices (e.g. wet
season spelling, ~30% utilisation of perennial grasses, aligning stocking rate with seasonal feed supply) by land managers in an attempt to improve rangeland condition.
5. Rationalisation of existing grazing area and sustainable intensification of more productive land types.
6. Incentive for existing land managers to transition enterprises to biosequestration related activities (particularly in marginal grazing lands).
7. Uptake of new technology and products capable of reducing methane emissions of ruminants (anti-methanogen vaccines, feed additives).
8. Development of highly sophisticated prescribed burning regimes to mitigate excessive emissions associated with severe, hot, late dry season fires.
9. If agriculture was included in the CPRS, businesses would have to pay the direct annual cost for permits for every tonne of CO2 equivalents they emit (sheep and cattle methane emissions will be the primary factor determining business obligations).
10. Greater uptake of energy saving, low emissions technologies (e.g. remote water and yard monitoring, remote recognition software and yard operation, virtual fencing, hybrid vehicles, solar power).
A new project initiative of the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA (DAFWA) and Rangelands NRM seeks to investigate the potential opportunities and impacts of the CPRS on pastoral businesses in the rangelands.
The project has three key outcomes: 1. The project will estimate the net amount of greenhouse gases that a pastoral business emits
per year in the Kimberley–Pilbara region. 2. Estimate how much carbon can be captured and stored by sustainable grazing management
and the level of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that can be achieved by reducing the incidence of intense wildfires.
3. Identify the economic thresholds and carbon price signals that may require pastoral businesses to make a shift to alternative management practices or enterprises.
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 23
PASTORAL MEMO – NORTHERN PASTORAL REGION DECEMBER 2008
The project will involve three commercial pastoral businesses in the Kimberley–Pilbara region. The study will involve three primary activities: 1. Audit existing business productivity, financial returns and greenhouse gas emissions for the
previous five years. Complete an environmental audit of the pastoral leases. 2. Conduct a soil and vegetation carbon accounting survey across each of the three pastoral
businesses. 3. Complete carbon and economic modelling to evaluate and discuss the most profitable, low-
emissions and environmentally sustainable enterprise and management practices for each individual business.
The project will be undertaken in close partnership with the Western Australian pastoral industry and is an initiative of the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia and Rangelands NRM Western Australia who have allocated a total of $692,809 to the project. The project will involve two full-time DAFWA researchers, collaboration with other state and federal R&D agencies and the technical support of other DAFWA employees.
The project commences 1 November 2008 and will be completed on 30 June 2010.
For further information contact: Mark Alchin, Industry Development—Rangelands, DAFWA M: 0447 077 899; Email [email protected]
NEW DVD TO HELP RURAL MEN
Wheatbelt Men’s Health Inc. (WMH) and the Kondinin Group (a farmer-based support organisation) have joined forces to produce a high quality DVD to assist farmers and their families to understand the issues created by excessive stress, depression and the need to seek professional help if under pressure.
The DVD focuses on the Working with Warriors program pioneered by Julian Krieg, Senior Educator with WMH who believes that prevention starts with informing community members about their responsibilities to look after themselves and their mates as the first line of defence in managing stress and depression health problems.
For the past six years Julian has been promoting the slogan ‘…before it all gets too much – talk to a mate…’. He also believes most men don’t stop long enough to identify who their real mates (people they can discuss things with) are.
The DVD focuses on four bush stories and captures the need to watch out for extreme stress in our lives.
Copies of the DVD are available from Sally Naughton, Northam.
For further information contact: Sally Naughton, DAFWA, Northam Phone (08) 9690 2277; Email [email protected]
24 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
AUSTRALIAN RANGELANDS CONFERENCE—CHARTERS
Rebecca Dray, DAFWA, Karratha
The Australian Rangeland Society held their biennial conference from 28 September until 2 October in Charters Towers, Queensland. The theme of the conference was ‘A Climate of Change’, not only regarding the current environmental concerns but also that times are changing in social and economic ways. About 200 delegates from all parts of Australia working in the rangelands attended the conference. Of those there were 15 from Western Australia, and included a mixture of pastoralists, DAFWA staff and NRM coordinators. Topics discussed ranged from social issues, grazing land management, land condition, monitoring, biodiversity management, conservation, latest research developments, multiple rangeland uses, restoration in the rangelands and various student presentations.
One of the field tours associated with the conference was to Wambiana Station to look at a grazing trial that has been running over the past 11 years. The aim of the trial was to demonstrate the benefits of sustainable grazing strategies for profit and improved land condition. Five grazing strategies were trialled: heavy continuous stocking (4 ha/AE); moderate continuous stocking (8 ha/AE); rotational wet season spelling (each paddock spelled every three years); a variable stocking with rates adjusted mid year to leave a minimum of 1000 kg/ha of residual feed the beginning of the wet season; and Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) variable stocking, where stock numbers were adjusted in November based on available pasture and SOI seasonal forecast.
Live weight gains over the 11 years were highest in the moderate stocking rate (113 kg/hd/yr) and lowest in the heavy stocking rate (86 kg/hd/yr). Both of the variable stocking strategies performed well with good animal growth and economic profitability, but were susceptible to drought risk. Heavy stocking performed well early in the trial but animal production and land condition declined, with supplementary feeding required in drier years. The moderate stocking rate produced the best animal growth and profits with lower input costs, while at the same time improving land condition. The Wambiana trial demonstrates that sustainable land management and profitability can be achieved.
Wambiana also have a herd of 100 camels which are used to control Parkinsonia and rubber vine. They are reported to be doing quite a good job of controlling the spread of these weeds. Interested delegates listen to ‘results to date’ from the
Wambiana trial.
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 25
PASTORAL MEMO – NORTHERN PASTORAL REGION DECEMBER 2008
A distinct focus for the conference was placed on attracting and retaining bright young minds and securing a future for the rangelands. NAPCO, an employer of many of Australia’s youth, presented the statistics of youth joining and leaving the industry, and ways in which they try to retain young people. The reasons why young people leave when questioned include lack of support, services, adequate remuneration and poor relationships with supervisors. Suggestions for improvement included selling a positive lifestyle, career opportunities and diversification in industries.
Brainstorming sessions and finding answers to this pressing matter of engaging and encouraging the youth of today to become involved in the rangelands were at the top of the agenda. One suggestion was to run a series of ‘Rangelands: McLeod’s Daughters’ to entice young people to the industry.
Many interesting papers were presented during the week of the conference, covering all topics related to the rangelands. By far the most stimulating talks were by the student papers that were presented, with their honest and to the point talks keeping all present on their toes and eagerly listening. Examples of these hot topics included: Ecosystem response to cell grazing; Maintaining production and meeting conservation goals on grazing properties in the rangeland; and Landholders and kangaroos in the rangelands.
This conference was a great opportunity to meet and mingle with many of the great minds working in the rangelands and to get to know their expertise, issues and successes in their time in the rangelands.
Whilst in the past the society and conferences have predominantly held a strong science and research link to rangeland management, it does provide a great arena to ‘bring the science to the ground’. Hopefully the next Australian Rangeland Society conference to be held in Burke, NSW in 2010 will see a much stronger presence of on-ground Rangeland managers.
The next Australian Rangeland Society’s Conference in 2010 to be held in Burke will have many expectations and reputations to uphold when compared to the extraordinary organisation of the Charters Towers conference.
Finally, a few last words written and presented quite artistically by Kaz Johnson (DAFWA Geraldton) during the wrap-up of the conference.
Building relations through policy, finance and social adversity,
Working towards learning, conserving, Rangeland biodiversity.
The Students presentations were great to see energetic faces,
Committed to Rangelands and Research, you’re all sure to go places.
So, as we depart, we’ll each take a token
With memories and notes of what has been spoken.
Armed with a passion and equipped with new names,
We’ll take to our Rangelands on the new winds of change.
26 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
FAREWELL TO BARGIE
Karratha Office
After 20 years working for the Department of Agriculture and Food, Andrew Longbottom is leaving to work with Rio Tinto Pastoral Operations. Affectionately known as Bargie, Andrew is pretty much an institution in the Pilbara, known for his phenomenal memory, his broad knowledge of the pastoral and farming community of WA, his big brown hat—changed to black on occasion—and his love of a good story. Andrew began working with the Agriculture Protection Board in October 1988 as a trainee at Harvey and Manjimup before taking up a district agricultural officer position at Dumbleyung and then Gnowangerup. In May 1991 Andrew transferred to Onslow where he remained until the office closed in 1999. Since then he has been based in Karratha and undertaken numerous roles including biosecurity, stock inspection, animal welfare, pastoral lease inspection and, since 2006, coordinating the Pilbara indigenous management support program.
Andrew has great organisational skills and planned and managed many aerial baiting programs and control programs for invasive weeds during his years in the Pilbara. The success of these programs was due largely to his communication skills with pastoralists and attention to detail. Andrew received an award for his part in the eradication of cattle tick from the Pilbara in 2002.
A highlight of his career was his involvement in planning many aerial feral animal control programs which he participated in with great enthusiasm. His position as an animal welfare officer and insistence that staff involved were proficient marksmen ensured that these programs were conducted to the highest standards of animal welfare.
One of Andrew’s ongoing legacies for rangelands staff will be the remote area operating procedures where, in his role as rangelands OHS representative, he had a large part in putting them together. He was a great man for the job as he had experienced a broad range of potential safety issues during his years ‘patrolling the Pilbara’.
I believe I speak on behalf of many Pilbara pastoralists and departmental staff in the Rangelands in wishing Andrew every success in his new role. He will no doubt still ‘be around’!
Bargie, complete with hat—‘a blast from the past’— demonstrating what not to do.
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 27
RANGELANDS 2008 – TAKING THE PULSE
Gary Bastin, ACRIS Coordinator, CSIRO, Alice Springs
The Australian Collaborative Rangelands Information System (ACRIS) recently released a major report on change in the rangelands. Rangelands 2008 – Taking the pulse describes change in a number of environmental, economic and social themes (results for those themes most relevant to the pastoral industry are briefly reported below). The reporting period is 1992 to 2005 and reporting is mostly by bioregion. There are 52 bioregions wholly or partly in the rangelands. (A bioregion is a large geographically distinct area that has assemblages of landscapes, flora and fauna forming recognisable patterns, e.g. the Mitchell Grass Downs.)
The Australian Government has provided substantial funding to assist ACRIS activity. This funding is administered by the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre located in Alice Springs. The title of the report (‘taking the pulse’) derives from the dynamic but sometimes fragile nature of the rangelands, and the need to monitor the way in which this large part of Australia (81% of land area) responds to human impacts. As medical staff take our pulse as a measure of our health, so we take the ‘pulse’ of the rangelands to determine how they are changing through time. The analogy is strengthened by viewing satellite images of vegetation growth over a 10–20 year period. The sequential images appear as a beating heart, as vegetation greens (and grows) each summer in the monsoonal north, most winters in the south and irregularly in the arid interior.
The report and associated material is available at www.environment.gov.au/acris
Gary Bastin, ACRIS Coordinator, CSIRO PO Box 2111, Alice Springs NT 0871 Phone: (08) 8950 7137; Email: [email protected]
28 http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
ECOFIRE WINS THE WA ENVIRONMENT AWARD
EcoFire has won the Overall Western Australia Environment Award 2008 and the Award for Community Achievement. The award ceremony was held in Perth on 11 October to honour individuals, community groups and businesses who have shown outstanding achievement in protecting Western Australia’s environment.
The EcoFire project is contracted by the Rangelands NRM Coordinating Group and managed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) at Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary in the central Kimberley. Partner organisations include Fire and Emergency Services Authority, the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), Kimberley Land Council and the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA.
EcoFire brings together pastoralists, indigenous communities, private and public conservation groups and government agencies to deliver effective fire management in the central and north Kimberley.
AWC was a finalist in three categories of the 2008 Western Australian Environment Awards: the ‘Bush, Land and Waterways’ and ‘Community Group Achievement’ categories for EcoFire and the ‘Biodiversity Conservation’ category for restoring the fauna of Faure Island Wildlife Sanctuary.
EcoFire was selected as the winning nomination above more than 100 high quality submissions from across the state. The Honourable Donna Faragher, Minister for Environment, and DEC Director General Kieran McNamara, presented the awards to the EcoFire team.
The awards recognise EcoFire’s leadership, commitment and excellence in conservation. AWC partners, community members and supporters attended the event at the Hyatt in Perth.
EcoFire Project Manager, Sarah Legge, said: ‘It’s very exciting to be part of a project that is bringing people with diverse interests together in a positive, outcome-focussed way to achieve something great for conservation. We hope this award will help increase awareness of the fire management issues we face in the Kimberley, and demonstrate that with relatively modest funding, the Kimberley community can improve the region’s fire patterns’.
AWC Chief Executive, Atticus Fleming, said: ‘The EcoFire project is a great example of the way AWC, by working with neighbours and partners, is achieving conservation outcomes at regional scales. It highlights the role that the private sector can make towards conservation in Australia’.
For further comment contact:
Joanna Axford at Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary Phone: (08) 9191 7014; Email: [email protected]
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 29
WEST AUSTRALIAN WILD DOG DNA PROJECT
Danielle Stephens, UWA School of Animal Biology
The West Australian Wild Dog DNA Project is on track to provide the largest study of wild dog ecology ever undertaken in Australia. Thanks primarily to the assistance of landholders, land managers and government, we now have almost 700 wild dog DNA samples from a great variety of locations across the state—we are well on our way to getting the 3000 samples that the project is targeting, but continued assistance is needed.
The aim of the project is to collect information on the movement, pack structure and degree of hybridisation between dingoes and feral dogs using DNA data. This is possible due to the contribution of DNA samples from people involved in wild dog management and the support of the Rangelands NRM Coordinating Group, BHP Billiton, DAFWA, DEC, the University of WA and the Invasive Animals CRC. The results will be used to provide up-to-date, local data to inform future management decisions.
The DNA approach relies on generating unique ‘DNA fingerprints’ for individual wild dogs like those used in paternity testing or forensics, then mapping them onto the landscape. The genetic similarity between individual dogs provides an indication of how far the interbreeding groups extend. This approach requires accurate information on where the dogs were caught, and the results can be overlaid on landscape features, or different control regimes to determine their role in the structuring of dog populations. The same data can also be used to determine if a sample is a dingo, feral domestic dog or a hybrid of the two.
Preliminary testing has shown that 60% of WA samples are pure dingoes, which is in stark contrast to the 5% pure dingoes found in south- eastern Australia. As the majority of previous dingo DNA studies have focused on NSW and Victoria, this highlights the value of expanding sampling across the continent to find out how wild dogs in central and western Australia differ from the more intensively-studied populations in the south-east.
The collection of samples will continue until July 2009. To accurately study wild dog movements and relationships among packs, we are seeking to include up to 2300 more samples in our study.
If you are interested in providing samples to the project, please contact Danielle Stephens at the University of Western Australia ([email protected]) or visit our web page at www.wilddogdna.animals.uwa.edu.au. Alternatively, contact your DAFWA Biosecurity Officer to arrange sampling kits.
Map of the samples received for the WA Wild Dog DNA Project so far. Triangles each
represent a single sample.
CAMELS VIA SATELLITE
Rob Parr, Vertebrate Pest Research, DAFWA, Forrestfield
In early November personnel from the Vertebrate Pest Research Section (VPRS) teamed up with Pilbara Biosecurity staff, Jonathon Lee a consultant senior veterinarian from the Australian Biosecurity CRC, Geoff Mills from Warrawagine Station and Victor Gleeson from Smoothy’s Helicopters to attach satellite collars to 10 feral camels.
The trial is jointly funded through the Rangelands NRM Coordinating Group, the Kimberley Zone Control Authority and DAFWA and is expected to run for two years. One of the initial aims was to attach collars to 10 adult female camels from separate and discrete family groups that were located on and around the fringes of the pastoral country and the Great Sandy Desert. The targeted area stretched from north-east of Yarrie Station in the west, around the eastern side of the Oakover River to the Telfer mine road, and east from there towards Telfer.
The attachment of the collars to these animals seeks to quantify overall and seasonal movement of camels, particularly where they inhabit the pastoral leases and adjacent desert areas. This information can then be compared to data that already exists for animals that solely occupy desert regions. Importantly the collars will gather data on the degree to which the ever increasing feral camel population is encroaching and impacting on adjoining pastoral land. Satellite tracking will also help to identify areas that are at high risk due to heavy utilisation by camels.
One of the aims of the trial is to determine if the control of camels via the Judas technique is a viable and feasible option. This technique involves the release of a radio collared animal (usually an adult female). Collared animals are subsequently tracked and all animals apart from the collared animal are shot. The remaining (collared) animals are left to hopefully find (or be found) by others of her species. This system works well with donkeys but the potential for camels to travel enormous distances in the lag time between tracking runs could rule it out as an option for camels. In this regard the satellite collars should provide the hard data on camel movements on the pastoral lease desert interface that we seek.
The satellite collars also have the more traditional VHF component which will enable the tracking of the animals during the trial period to visually establish what herd sizes they are in and how these change over season, time and according to other influences such as climatic conditions and breeding status. Herd size and propensity to ‘mob up’ are also crucial elements in determining if the Judas technique is appropriate for camel control.
The project team express their thanks to the funders of the project, all those involved in the collaring exercise to date and especially to Geoff and Linda Mills at Warrawagine Station.
http://www.agric.wa.gov.au 31
CATTLE MARKET UPDATE—28 NOVEMBER 2008
Export numbers (Northern Ports 2008)