LEYBURN farm manager Glen Timbs says its all about keeping both predators and the uncontrolled numbers of hungry marsupials off productive pastures meant for livestock.
Mr Timbs, who runs the 1200 hectare property New Farm south west of Leyburn, said until the exclusion fence was constructed it was extremely difficult to effectively manage the pasture resource.
“We couldn’t afford not to fence,” Mr Timbs said. “It was nothing to come out and count 200 kangaroos or more without even going anywhere near counting what was actually in the paddock.
“Then there was the wild dog issue. They could come and go out of the forest country as they pleased, leaving a trail of destruction that was having a big impact of our ability particularly to run sheep.”
The fencing of New Farm has been in concert with a significant pasture development program.
About 75 per cent of the generally sandy, bull oak, pine and ironbark country has been deep ripped, disc ploughed and even scarified to provide an environment for highly productive improved pastures. Following extensive soil testing 1-1.5 tonnes of lime was also added and a copper treatment applied to the generally undulating landscape.
“It was a big punt to deep rip this country, but it is has certainly paid off in terms of capturing soil moisture,” Mr Timbs said. “Even after the offsets and scarifier were used, we kept the landscape relatively rough. We wanted to avoid run-off and give rain every chance to sink in.
“We reckon that by opening up the ground and ploughing across the water flow we have at least halved the run-off. That has directly resulted in a big increase in pasture production.”
The transformation has been remarkable. New Farm is today a highly productive grazing operation supporting about 250 Santa and Santa-cross cattle and a Dorper sheep flock.
The paddocks are run on the rotational basis with the cattle provided with an AGRiliq supplement to maximise pasture utilisation.
“We don’t dare overgraze,” Mr Timbs said. “We want the property to constantly look like park land with plenty of trees for shade.”
Drawing on knowledge from Chris Collyer from Heritage Seeds and Selected Seeds in Pittsworth, a range of species were used including Rhodes grasses, digit, creeping blue grass, bambatsi, wynn cassia, lucerne, burgundy bean and blue butterfly pea.
The effective barrier features heavy duty galvanised steel posts set six paces apart. Ironbark posts sourced on the property were used as strainers and for stays where required. Each of the 4.3m long hardwood posts were sunk 1.5m into the ground.
The 14 wire, 1.5m dog proof netting is supported by two plain belly wires and a 3mm high tensile barb at both the top and bottom of the netting. An addition barb was added to the top of the fence in an effort to stop even the highest jumping kangaroos.
“We reckon it will take about nine years to pay for the development,” Mr Timbs said. “We’ve certainly built it to last but it’s still a concern how much pressure roos and wallabies are putting on this fence. They can certainly hit it with a lot of force and that’s something we need to constantly be on top of.”