THE scourge of wild dogs wreaking havoc on Queensland livestock producers is stirring great debate over cluster fencing.
At Bunginderry Station, 65 kilometres north west of Quilpie, Stephen and Annabel Tully are in one of the latest partnerships who’ve bitten the bullet to build.
At 330 kilometres long and spanning 242,811 hectares (600,000 acres) across three properties, the fence is the “game-changer” that’ll save their operations, according to Mr Tully, though he appreciates the investment “is a financial risk”.
“I was sort of sitting there thinking I don’t have a future unless we do it [erect a dog fence],” Mr Tully said.
“Put up or shut up. So I think it will be a game-changer for us.”
The material cost for the fence comes in at $1.2 million, $600,000 of which is being funded by the state government under the South West Natural Resource Management (NRM) organisation.
Bunginderry staff have just completed the first 25-km stage of their 110km-section, after starting working at the end of July.
The other two properties involved in the cluster fence are Ray Station and Canoway Downs.
It’s Bunginderry and Ray that are the first line of defence for dogs coming into the Adavale country to the Murweh shire, with no sheep currently running on Canoway.
Mr Tully said his lambing rate was at 60 per cent, down from the usual 80-90pct which was last achieved in 2012.
“We have been able to keep the dogs under some sort of control, but the amount of time and effort have been phenomenal and every year they just get a little bit worse,” he said.
Mr Tully is also the chair at the Quilpie Wild Dog Control group.
“I’d think we’d be losing 500 sheep a year. That’s easy to put a value on that,” Mr Tully said.
“The biggest impact that we’re having is we’re very reluctant to be putting out sheep in the mulga country, but that’s what you need your sheep to go up in the dry times.
“The dogs are harassing the sheep there and they won’t walk into certain areas.”
Kangaroos have also been plaguing the region, and Mr Tully claims seeing 5000-6000 head around the house during shearing alone.
He’s hoping the fence will provide relief from dogs and migratory kangaroos in equal parts.
The Tully’s 72,843-hectare (180,000-acre) operation at Bunginderry is running at just over half its capacity, down to 8000 sheep and 400 head of cattle.
“We should be shearing upwards of 15,000 sheep and 800 cattle,” Mr Tully emphasised.
“We’re primarily a wool-growing, Merino operation. That’s what this country does best – good lambing and good quality wool.”
The Quilpie council has submitted an expression of interest to receive government funding to erect a separate dog fence around the shire. Mr Tully anticipates an outcome will be known in a couple of weeks.