Wild dog exclusion fencing will benefit entire community

Dirranbandi producer says exclusion fencing will give him the opportunity to run goats and prime sheep

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Mayor Samantha O'Toole with Rob and Sally Hemming on their property, Beverleigh, at Dirranbandi with some of fencing materials.

Mayor Samantha O'Toole with Rob and Sally Hemming on their property, Beverleigh, at Dirranbandi with some of fencing materials.

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Balonne Shire Council's wild dog exclusion fencing is now underway.

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Dirranbandi producer Rob Hemming believes his 14,000-hectare property, Beverleigh, will not be the only winner from the Balonne Shire Council's involvement in a wild dog exclusion fencing initiative.

"From our point of view, by undertaking the fencing we will be able to control feral animals, which will allow us to have the opportunity to run goats and prime sheep, something we have not done in the past and it will also mean we can consider our choice of crops," Mr Hemming said.

"But the economic flow-on to the broader community runs deeper than that - a local freight company had to bring the fencing to us, we purchased the fencing from a local outlet and people will be employed to undertake the work."

He said for all those reasons he was delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the program.

Mr Hemming's property is the first in the shire to have materials delivered under the scheme, signalling the scheme is now underway.

"We have just taken delivery of about half the materials we need to erect the fence and then have 12 months to complete the project," he said.

Overall Mr Hemming has three properties that make up his aggregation including Beverleigh, Moorenbah and Bonniedoon.

Almost half of the land is used to grow winter wheat, barley and chickpea crops while the remaining country is used for cattle grazing.

Steers are bought in from Roma, Gunnedah and Tamworth weighing between 250-350kg and then backgrounded.

At about 400-500kg they are inducted into the 1700-head capacity feedlot where they are fattened for at least 100 days on a ration of barley, barley silage, cotton seed and pre-mix to target the Jap bullock market at 610-750kg.

"Once this fence is complete it will give us other options to diversify further and assist us with feral pest control," he said.

 Rob Hemming at his on-property feedlot at Dirranbandi.

Rob Hemming at his on-property feedlot at Dirranbandi.

The Balonne Shire Council sought applications for the $5 million in grant funds from landholders in the Murray Darling Basin catchment on a 50:50 basis last year and like council's own Special Rate Scheme - where council borrowed $8 million to provide 20-year loans to landholders for WDEF - this scheme was heavily subscribed.

"There has been twice as much interest as there were funds available and all up about 40 properties have received grants for a total of 821 km of WDEF," Mayor Samantha O'Toole said.

"We know that this type of fencing offers real benefits for landowners in extending their options as to how they can effectively use their land but the flow-on economic benefits to local communities can also not be underestimated.

"It is for all these reasons that Council has been actively pursuing opportunities for farmers to be able to undertake this fencing in a cost-effective manner and I am sure we will see the economic benefits well into the future."

Under the terms of the program landholders have six months to begin work once their agreement is signed.

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