Cattle Husbandry field day summary

Greg Meaker demonstrating calf marking and basic husbandry

The Cattle Husbandry for Small Farms Field Day was held at DMB Galloways in Sutton on the 29 April 2017. Here is a summary of the key points discussed:

The day was led by Greg Meaker a former educator in beef cattle husbandry and management at Tocal Collage and District Livestock Officer with the NSW Government Industry and Investment, Goulburn. Greg is also owner manager of two working properties in the Gunning district.

  • Before purchasing livestock it is important to decide on what type of operation you want (breeding or growing out), or if you want to purchase livestock to keep your pastures in check. If you are looking at trading livestock there is a wealth of information available on NSW Department of Primary Industries website.  Meat and Livestock Australia
  • The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is an important regulatory requirement that all livestock owners need to be aware of. The NLIS system enables livestock to be traced and managed during livestock emergencies such as disease outbreaks. You can view a PDF of the requirements here NEW NLIS Information Booklet
  • Yard weaning- weaners and new stock should be ‘yard weaned’ to teach the young cattle about the yards and being handled. During this time routine worming and husbandry can be performed. Yard weaning makes the cattle more manageable and can improves lifetime weight gains (by 20-30 kilograms) because handling stress is reduced.

See the Yard Weaning and Education article.

  • Low stress cattle management -there are number of guiding principles that can be used to improve cattle performance and ease of handling. Find out more about the theory and practice of low stress cattle management on the  Future Beef website.
  • Calendar of Operations – The South East Local Land Services has published a Beef Calendar of Operations – NSW Coast

When available a Southern Tablelands Calendar of Operations for Cattle will be published on our website.

  • If you are looking at a breeding operation the management of bulls is essential to the productivity of your  herd.  When purchasing or leasing bulls vibriosis testing is an important step to stop the disease from becoming established in your herd.

See the NSW DPI Vibriosis fact sheet.

  • Sudden changes in diet and a poor vaccination regime can cause a disease called pulpy kidney. This disease is caused by Clostridium perfringens type D. This bacteria normally inhabits the intestine of cattle but can become present in large numbers when there are sudden changes to the animals’ diet. For more information and management options see the NSW DPI Enterotoxaemia in cattle fact sheet.
  • Yards based on a tear drop/circular design suit the handling and flow of cattle in the yards. The NSW DPI website has a series of designs suitable for cattle herds under 100 head. See NSW DPI Yards and Equipment for Cattle.
  • NSW DPI Feed cost calculator – this website allows you to compare the cost, protein content and energy of different types of supplementary feeds.

Other fact sheets and contacts that may be useful for cattle owners:

Grass Tetany in Cattle

Agistment Guidelines for Cattle

South East Local Land Services Veterinary Contacts

Thank you to our hosts Dianne and Mark from DMB Galloways for providing a great venue and helping with planning the workshop.

This field day was made possible by funding from the Australian Government. In-kind and volunteer support from South East Local Land Services, the Palerang Local Action Network for Sustainability and the ACT Regional Landcare Facilitator. We thank them all for their ongoing contribution to this project.

Sheep Husbandry for Small Farms

20 May 2017 9.45 – 3.30 pm 

Location: Gold Creek Station, Hall Look at the venue

This field day presented by Doug Alcock is for anyone managing sheep who wants to know more about animal nutrition, routine practices, calendar of operations, ewe management, lambing, estimating pasture availability and supplementary feeding. In addition to presentations about the theory of sheep management there will be a yard session where participants will be able to handle sheep and learn more about practical animal husbandry. The workshop will be held at a working sheep farm in Hall, ACT.

Presenter Doug Alcock is the owner/manager of Graze Profit Consulting providing advisory services to farmers and farmer groups. His main area of interest is in sheep nutrition and grazing management for the benefit of the land, livestock and ultimately farmers. Doug worked for over 23 years as a sheep and wool officer with the NSW DPI in our region and has developed a number of workshops specialising in sheep husbandry including ‘Top Lamb Crop’ which he currently presents for ACT Landcare. In addition to his practical skills, he is involved in research with the CSIRO and industry groups on pastures and grazing animals.

Cost: $ 25.00 per person plus booking fee

Book Now

Horse Property Planning key points

On the 25 March 2017 Stuart Myers from Equiculture and Jennie Curtis from Fresh Landscape Design presented a horse property planning seminar. Here is a summary and also some useful links:

  • Horses have evolved to eat a low protein, low fibre diet, walking and foraging in herds.
  • The domestication of horses and use of horses after the industrial revolution has guided often-used practices for stabling and managing horses – usually for human convenience. Horses don’t really like stables and would rather be in a yard if they have to be contained.
  • Most modern horses require the three F’s: friends, forage and freedom.
  • Horses can be used for grassland management by having a systematic approach to running horses as a herd and rotating paddocks.
  • The first step in horse property design is to perform a site analysis and understand the capacity of your land. The site analysis allows you to identify aspects of your property such as buildings, roads, waterways, boggy areas, dams, remnant bush and hilly areas. Locations for yards, working and stabling areas, lane ways, paddocks and revegetation sites can then be planned.
  • Design road access and lane ways to be wide enough for trucks and fire vehicles, allow a good turning circle at the end of lane ways.
  • By using good quality pasture hay in round bales you can rehabilitate areas of low ground cover by allowing the horses to feed in this area. The hay and manure will act a mulch and encourage pasture regeneration.
  • ‘Think like a horse’ – they want to be close to the feed source ‘YOU’. Horse owners can use this behaviour to their advantage by arranging gates, lane ways and paddocks that allow horses easy access to a central yard facility where water and feed is available. This way, the horses want to come into the yard when they see you there. Consider having an all-weather yard with a suitable surface (deep wood chip, rubber matting or earth). This makes management easier and also allows horses to be called and corralled in times of emergency.
Some useful links

Information about horses, fire and flood planning at the Equiculture website. This is a great resource with links to others to help you plan for emergencies.

Healthy soil = Healthy Pasture find out more about managing soils by watching the short videos @ the soils network of knowledge

The Soil Food Web

Equine Permaculture and Property Planning

Paterson’s Curse – Prime Fact Sheet on the weed and poisoning of horses.

NSW WeedWise Online- this website has lots of resources on weeds and livestock. Of particular interest for horse owners fireweed and crofton weed

Thanks to our hosts for the seminar. The event was made possible with funding from the Australian Government and support from South East Local Land Services and FuturePLANS.

Cattle Husbandry for Small Farms

Photo supplied Dianne Burgess

29 April 2017 9.00am-3.30 pm

This field day is for small to medium size property managers wanting to learn more about cattle husbandry. The topics covered will include breeds for small farms, pasture and feeding, worms and drenching, vaccinations, basic health and management.

Our guest speaker Greg Meaker is a practical and knowledgeable presenter with a lifetime of experience in cattle husbandry and management. Greg is based in the Gundaroo district in NSW and currently manages two livestock properties. He is a former educator at Tocal College and Beef Livestock Officer for the NSW Government Industry and Investment based in Goulburn. Greg delivered PROGRAZE to approximately 1200 producers in the region and facilitated PROGRAZE Plus. Greg also developed and delivered Stockplan, a registered training course designed to help beef cattle producers manage and prepare for drought.

There will be a practical cattle handling session for participants including how to move cattle in yards, information about routine care and management. There will also be an opportunity for landholders to ask questions and guide the content of the day.

The field day will be held in Sutton on a private property, address details will be provided on registration. Numbers are limited to 25 participants and bookings are essential. The cost is $ 27.13 (including booking fee) per person including morning tea and lunch


This event is made possible with funding from the Australian Government.


Healthy Land, Healthy Horse 2

25 March 2017 9.00 am-3.30 pm Bywong NSW

Would you like to develop a horse property plan that uses the natural grazing behaviour of horses to benefit the land and the wider environment? At this workshop you will develop a property plan that is horse and human friendly which maximises the natural resources available.

Participants will develop a deeper understanding of how horses’ natural behaviour can be harnessed to manage pastures and how infrastructure can be centralised. The workshop will include information about horse health and welfare, the relationship between horses and pasture, pasture management systems, water planning, worm/manure management and how to save time and resources on your horse property. Activities include seminars, hands-on property planning and a paddock walk at a horse property.

This workshop is the second in the Small Farms Network Equiculture series. Ideally participants will have attended Healthy Land, Healthy Horse 1 or a similar workshop by Equiculture to get the most from this workshop.


Stuart Myers BA(Hons) from Equiculture

Stuart is co-founder of Equiculture with wife Jane Myers (MSc Equine). Stuart presents courses, talks, workshops and seminars on the subject of environmentally sustainable horse keeping practices in Australia and the UK. He is the co-author of several books on the subject of environmentally sustainable horse keeping and the creator of the concept – The Equicentral System – an environmentally sustainable system of equine management.

Jennie Curtis BSc (Hons), MLandArch from Fresh Landscape Design

Jennie Curtis is an award winning Registered Landscape Architect based in Bywong. She has designed landscapes for over 250 gardens and small farms including the Roogulli small farm in Bywong which has been open to the public on several occasions. Jennie will be working with participants in this workshop to help them identify landscape opportunities and constraints for their properties using aerial photos and their knowledge of their land. This will lead into planning how different parts of the property can be used.

The cost of this workshop is $ 60.00 per ticket (plus a booking fee of $3.69) with up to two people per property able to attend. A large part of the costs for this course have been subsidised by funding from the Australian Government. Numbers are limited and bookings are essential. Lunch, morning tea and resources for property planning are supplied. Address supplied when you register.

You can purchase an aerial photograph for property planning when you book or supply your own.


Working with Weeds Summary

Alice, Alison and Warren
Alice, Alison and Warren

At the Working with Weeds Field Day, Alison Elvin from Natural Capital Pty Ltd presented a compelling and informative story about weeds. Warren Schofield from ACT Biosecurity and Rural Services and Alice McGrath from South East Local Land Services also presented information on weed management and planning on the day.

According to the Australian Government it is estimated that weeds cost Australian Farmers approximately 1.5 billion dollars a year in weed control activities and 2.5 billion in lost agricultural production. So why are weeds such a problem and can we change our thinking to manage them better?

Some key points from the field day:Alison Elvin on Weed Identification

  • Correctly identify your weed. Developing knowledge of weed and plant identification is critical to understanding what is happening on your land.
  • Boost your soil health by improving soil organic carbon and addressing any nutrient deficiencies. Consider using soil tests to help you address nutrient imbalances. Weeds can be indicator species, for example, Paterson’s Curse can indicate that the soil is lacking in copper and calcium.
  • Develop a plan for managing weeds over a 5-10 year period. There can be benefits to starting small and radiating out from control patches.
  • Weeds are pioneer plants that produce a lot of biomass, the organic matter from weeds can be utilised by slashing before flowering and used to increase soil carbon. Some grass species can also be baled for hay to use later for fodder.
  • Adjust your grazing system and aim to maintain ground cover, focusing on perennial species. Ensure that desirable species have the chance to flower and set seed at least every 3 years to allow seed banks to build up. Using rotational and strip grazing can also have benefits.
  • Keep bare soils covered to prevent erosion and weeds colonising. Weeds like to germinate on bare soils and thrive in impoverished soils.
  • Integrate your weed control measures. Use targeted control with chemical sprays, crash grazing and manual removal. Use the correct herbicide and correct rate for the specific weed in the correct season to prevent herbicide resistance. Develop a farm plan and keep records of what you do.
  • Consider returning marginal land to remnant bush and graze only lightly. Fence and plant perennial species on the contour and plant wind breaks where the prevailing winds come from to stop weeds entering your property. Physical traps can be used along fence lines.
  • Does the weed have a biological control agent?

Useful websites and links:

Weeds in Australia

South East Local Land Services

Integrated Weed Management Plan – A Land Managers Guide

Integrated Weed Management Plan – Planning Tool

Biological Control of Weeds

Molonglo Catchment Group Weed Information

This field day is made possible with funding from the Australian Government.

We also thank the following for their contribution:

  • The ACT Regional Landcare Facilitator and ACT NRM with funding from the Australian Governments National Landcare Programme
  • South East Local Land Services
  • ACT Biosecurity and Rural Services
  • Future PLANS
  • Small Farms Network – Capital Region Steering Committee.
  • Our host Paul from Springfield.

The Small Farm Network will be hosting Working with Weeds 2 in 2017. Subscribe to our newsletter to find out more.

Healthy Land, Healthy Horse Summary

Hosts from Manna Park Geoff and Mark with Stuart Myers and Brad (on the pony)
Hosts from Manna Park Agistment Centre Geoff and Mark with Stuart Myers and Brad (on the pony)

The Healthy Land, Healthy Horse Field Day was a fascinating day packed with information for horse owners.  Geoff and Mark from Manna Park Agistment Center in Bywong provided a beautiful setting for Stuart Myers from Equiculture to share the Equiculture system of horse management. A range of topics were discussed from horse biology to the importance of maintaining a diversity of plant species on farm for grazing.

Some key messages were:

  • Horses thrive on a high fibre, low energy diet.
  • Encourage biodiversity. Plant and encourage a wide variety of plants and pasture species on your grazing land. Horses are adapted to using various herbs and shrubs in their diet. A varied diet can have medicinal benefits for the horse and helps diversity on the farm. Encourage remnant vegetation by fencing it off and planting shelter belts of native trees.
  • Running horses as a herd allows pastures to be managed productively. By using rotational grazing and planning paddock management, horse owners can reduce their reliance on supplementary feeding.
  • Focus on ‘grass farming’ by improving your knowledge of pasture species and encouraging them to self seed and proliferate. Horses can be used to spread mulch and beneficial pasture seeds by feeding them on bare areas of soil.
  • Use the ‘stubby test’, graze the pasture when it reaches the height of a stubby standing up and stop grazing when the stubby reaches the height of the stubby lying down.
  • Native grasses can be very beneficial to horse health and provide the low energy diet they need.
  • Concentrate key activities in specially designed areas eg. covered feeding areas and multi-use surfaces (grassed arenas that can be used for training and grazing). Watering points at a central site can reduce set up costs and encourage horses to get more exercise.

Some useful links and resources:

Information about moving horses in NSW

PIC information for horse owners

University of Maryland Rotational Grazing Institute

Weed information

Equicluture Resources and Books

Event partners

This field day is made possible with funding from the Australian Government. We also thank the following for their contribution:

  • ACT Regional Landcare Facilitator and ACT NRM with funding from the Australian Governments National Landcare Programme.
  • Future PLANS and Small Farms Network Capital Region – volunteer committees.
  • Geoff, Mark and volunteers from Manna Park Agistment Centre.

The Small Farms Network will be hosing another horse field day in 2017. Sign up for our newsletter and be the first to know about our events.


PROGRAZE® for Small Farms

Do you need to know more about pastures? Find out what’s in your paddocks. Understand options for managing grazing and stock.

The Small Farms Network is offering PROGRAZE for people grazing stock in the Capital Region. This course will begin in February 2017 and run for approximately 10 months with eight half-day workshops held on local farms.

This course provides skills for landholders to assess land management characteristics influencing pasture and animal production. It is designed for sheep and cattle but the principles also apply to grazing horses and alpacas. PROGRAZE is designed to help you:

  • develop skills in pasture and animal assessment, and
  • use these skills to improve the productivity and sustainability of grazing.

Participants will also learn about developing pasture and livestock management plans.

The presenter of the Small Farms Network – Capital Region’s PROGRAZE course in 2017 is Col Langford.

Col Langford
Col Langford

Col Langford is a former Sheep and Wool Officer with the NSW Department of Agriculture with over 40 years experience. He helped develop the PROGRAZE program and has a wealth of knowledge about the content.

Col’s expertise in grazing and livestock management was recognized in 2007 when he was invited by Charles Sturt University (CSU) to participate in a grazing management project in the province of Inner Mongolia in China. He is now on the team of the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), an Adjunct Research Associate at CSU and an Agricultural Consultant.

PROGRAZE is available to farmers in the Capital Region including Braidwood for a fee of $200 per farm. Two members from each farm can attend for this fee.

The usual fee for this course is $670 per farm but our 2017 course is subsidised by grants from the Australian Government and South East Local Land Services.

Book now

Small Farms PROGRAZE flyer


Feathers and Fowl Field Day Summary 7th September 2016

An excellent field day with a mix of practical and theoretical presentations and a farm tour.


Dr Jayne Weller from Exotic Animal Veterinary Service shared her knowledge of the anatomy of chickens and husbandry systems. She is also an expert in health and disease problems in poultry and spent time discussing the nutritional requirements for fowl and routine vaccinations. She also gave a demonstration to how to hold a bird and wing clipping.

Dr Kate Sawford from South East Local Land Services spoke on poultry diseases, exotic and zoonotic diseases of poultry, farm biosecurity and regulatory requirements for transport, egg and meat production.

Penny Kothe from Caroola Farm talked about meat bird production and care using organic principles. Penny concentrated on the considerations for commercial meat production of chicken, ducks and poultry.  A copy of Penny’s presentation can be viewed here



Penny Evans from Pendon Farm shared her expertise on free range egg production, what works in practice and her management system for laying hens.



According to participants Chris and Bronwyn the key take home messages were:

  • When designing a chicken coop for layers it’s a good idea to keep the nesting boxes at a lower level than the roosting perches to encourage the chooks to sit on the perches at night rather than in the nesting boxes, to reduce the amount of poo in the boxes – and as a bonus – clean eggs.
  • If you are not producing your own chicks (from existing chooks and roosters), try to stick to either buying immunised chicks or using one  trusted supplier to reduce the chance of introducing disease to your flock. If possible, quarantine new batches from existing birds for at least one month.
  • Commercial scratch feeds have varied amounts of protein in them – not only different brands but sometimes different batches from the same brand. Also, they rarely have the required amount of protein, so some additional protein sources are necessary.
  • Ordinary shell-grit is not a great source of calcium – generally, even when the chook’s gizzards grind the shell grit, ordinary shell-grit does not provide a readily absorbable form of calcium. Better options are either egg shells (may be crushed but not necessary), or oyster shells.
  • Diagnosing sick chooks is very difficult – even for vets- and often requires an autopsy. Many diseases and nutrient deficiencies can have similar presentations. Often, symptoms are noticed when it is already too late. Prevention of disease and nutrient deficiency is definitely the way to go.
  • To stop chooks flying, you cut seven primary feathers on both wings. Cutting the feathers on only one wing makes the chook unbalanced and they can hurt themselves.
  • You can make a quick pen using $50 temporary fence panels available from a will known hardware store with an electric wire around the bottom.
  • Chooks breathe in strange ways. They don’t have muscles to draw the air in. If you hold them to tight or squash them they can’t breathe.
  • There is an operation that vets can do to rescue egg bound hens. It costs about $2000 and the hen can’t lay eggs afterwards!

Resources and Information

Here is a collection of websites and information which may be relevant to your small farm.

NSW Food Authority website

Requirements for Small Egg Producers

Requirements for Small Egg Farms

Licensing information for meat and egg producers

Licensing for Meat Businesses

NSW Department of Primary Industries Primefacts and website

NSW Department of Agriculture Poultry Housing

NSW Department of Agriculture Agnote Poultry Keeping on a Small Scale

NSW Department of Primary Industries Poultry Website

Poultry Health Keeping Diseases Out

Small Scale Poultry Feeding

Recognising Exotic Diseases of Birds

Animal Disease Hotline – 1800 675 888

Backyard Poultry Forum

Tocal Agricultural College Agskills Series – Poultry Agskills

This event was made possible with funding from South East Local Land Services, in kind support from FuturePLANS and is supported by the ACT Regional Landcare Facilitator and funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. The Small Farms Network Capital Region thanks them all for their assistance that lets us deliver great events.