Keeping horses at pasture day 2

A group of horses owners gathered in August 2019 to learn more about pasture management and horses with Helena Warren from Cadfor Equestrian and Murray Greys.

Feed rations

The quote of the day was ‘feed to work’. Would it surprise you to learn that some pleasure horses are overfed? Helena explained how to calculate a ration for a horse based on condition score, growth stage, level of work, pasture availability and feed types.

You can create a feed budget for your horse using the links below. Having a feed budget can save you time and money and you can tailor the ration to what feeds are available. Please note that these are general guides and the condition of individual horses should be monitored to ensure animal welfare requirements are met.

Feed requirements of horses – for working out what to feed

FeedXL on line – application (fees apply) for working out feed requirements.

Parasitic worms

Worm testing and rotational grazing are critical elements in an effective worm management program. Some horses have high worm burdens, while others have developed natural resistance. The only way to find out if your horse needs a drench is by doing a faecal worm egg test. You can get testing kits from Local Land Services or many rural suppliers.

Faecal worm egg testing allows you to choose the appropriate type of drench to use. It is important to not routinely drench using the same active ingredient as this increases the likelihood of developing worms with drench resistance.
More resources:
Integrated pest management for horse farms
Primefacts – Worm Control in Horses

Soils

According to Helena the best time to take soil samples is in October when the soil is depleted during the pasture growing season. Further advice about soil sampling and fertilising pastures can be found in the Fertilisers for Pastures booklet. Some benchmarks for healthy soils can be found here.

During the field day we looked at the soil test results from the property. The test results indicated that the soil pH was probably too low and the Aluminium too high. You can read more about soils in our recent blog post From the Ground Up.

Harrowing horse paddocks and using rotational grazing can help increase organic matter in the soil and reduce fertiliser costs. Soil testing and working out a nutrient budget can help you decide if additional fertilisers are required. Fertilisers for Pastures contains a guide to working out a nutrient budget for a horse property.

Other online resources include
Farmers guide to increasing soil carbon under pasture
Helena Warren – Keeping Horses at Pasture day 1 (insert)
Healthy Horse Healthy Land Workshop Summary
Horse Property Planning Key Points

This project received grant funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program

Keeping horses at pasture Day 1

Horsewoman Helena Warren from Cadfor Equestrian and Murray Greys Pty shared her expertise with a group of participants over a two-day workshop in 2019. Day 1 of the workshop included pastures for horses, stringhalt and laminitis.

Pastures for horses

  • When planning your horse property, think about ways to minmise runoff and nutrient loss. This can include locating horse infrastructure away from water courses, fencing along contours, rotational grazing, using windbreaks and installing vegetation buffers. A two-metre fenced wind break can provide adequate ground cover to prevent significant erosion and water loss.
  • According to Helena, reseeding a pasture from scratch is a three year process that takes a lot of planning including soil testing, managing weeds, planting a break crop and final seeding. Refer to the DPI Primefact on Pastures for Horses for more information. When the cost of pasture establishment is compared to the ongoing cost of supplementary feeding, fertilising and maintaining pasture becomes financially viable.
  • Being able to assess your horses condition score and weight is a useful tool for feeding management and worming. The amount of feed a horse requires depends on their weight, activity, growth stage and body condition. The NSW DPI Primefact 928 Estimating a horses condition and weight gives a step by step guide on how to do this.
  • For optimum feed production, perennial grasses should be rested (ideally at the flowering stage) to allow them to develop their basal buds and roots. This will maintain the vigour of the grasses. Allowing native pastures to seed in autumn will also encourage the spread of these grasses in a pasture.
  • Helena described the optimum resting of pastures in a rotational grazing system as the ‘three leaf rule’. The three leaf rule allows the grass roots enough time to recover to maintain good production and for the grass to have the optimum sugar level for horses. The leaf stage of optimum grazing will depend on the species of grass. The Grazing Management Tool provides advice on how to grow more pasture and influence the species mix in your pasture.

NSW Local Land Services runs Prograze courses that can help property owners develop skills in managing their pasture. Contact your local office.

Stringhalt

Stringhalt is a plant poisoning syndrome that affects horses and is caused by the ingestion of flatweed. At the workshop over one third of the participants had horses that were affected by stringhalt. Helena recommended the Investigations into the Australian Causes of Stringhalt in Horses publication for managing horses with stringhalt.

Laminitis

After colic, laminitis is the second largest killer of horses in Australia. Laminitis is caused by overconsumption of grasses or feeds high in sugar, but it is often associated with some other stress factor. The critical point to remember when feeding a horse with a high risk of foundering is to keep the structural carbohydrates low. The availability of sugars in grasses is impacted by a number of factors including the species of grass, moisture stress, time of day and amount of shade in a paddock. The production rate of sugar in grasses is linked to photosynthesis.

Perennial pastures require resting to maintain their leaf production and to be safe for horses at risk of laminitis to graze. Continually grazed grasses at the 1 leaf stage are high in sugar and can increase laminitis risk. More mature grasses in the three leaf stage of production have lower sugar levels. Native pasture grasses are lower in sugars than introduced pasture grasses. The types of grasses suitable for horses are different to those suitable for ruminants. Cattle and sheep digest sugars in grass in the rumen to feed the microbes in the stomach. In horses sugar is digested in the hindgut, from here the sugar enters the bloodstream which can cause metabolic syndromes such as laminitis.

Weeds in hay

Helena recommends that you monitor your feed sources, especially hay, for weed contamination. Some pasture grass hay can be contaminated with undesirable pasture species and weeds.  If hay you are buying is cheap this is usually for a reason. If you are unsure of a grass species advertised you can look up the NSW DPI Weed Wise website and NSW Plant Net website.

More informaton:
Pasture Management and Laminitis Risk
Horse Property Planning Key Points
Healthy Horse Healthy Land Workshop Summary
Diagnosing and treating gastric ulcers in horses
How to discourage your horse from eating sand
Poisonous plants of horses field guide
Strategic planning for horse properties

This project received grant funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program

Revegetation for small farms

Owen Whitaker is a fifth generation farmer with 25 years experience revegetating farms and managing large scale revegetation projects.  At this workshop he shared his revegetation wisdom and practical knowledge.

“Planting trees is an investment, well designed windbreaks can mitigate production losses from cold winds, improve pasture productivity, provide fodder and enhance biodiversity” Owen Whitaker 2019

Read more in The Econimic Benefits of Native Shelter Belts

The 3 P’s of successful revegetation according to Owen are planning, preparation and persistence.

Tips for revegetation projects:

  • Before deep ripping contact Dial Before You Dig and/or get professional advice to locate services, this can save you thousands of dollars. (Note that some services on rural properties may not be on record with DBYD.)
  • Tree and shrub tube stock can be planted in rows using existing fences or in strategic clumps around the paddock to provide stock with access to shade and shelter from all directions. This can be achieved by using circular ‘ring style’ fencing around star pickets without strainer posts with either electric or hingejoint wire, depending on livestock.
  • Trees can be incorporated into lane ways so that paddocks can be split up for rotational or holistic grazing.
  • A typical shrub and tree planting layout would be 2 metres away from fences, 3 metres between rows and 4 metres between plants. Plant shrubs in the outside rows and trees in the middle rows creating a tapered profile effect to deflect winds. Offset the plants between the rows. The minimum tree row width for a good shelter belt effect is 3 rows x 10 metres however for a better return on outlay 5 rows x 20 metres would deliver the best micro-climate and ecological outcome.
  • Controlling biomass and ripping 6-12 months ahead of planting will help water to penetrate into the ground and build moisture profile to aid seedling establishment. Removing pasture by using a knockdown herbicide will reduce the allelopathic effects of pasture and competition for water when the tube stock is planted. Do not use a residual herbicide when preparing the planting site as the active ingredients will inhibit tree establishment.
  • Have a tree guard making party and have all guards assembled ready to go before planting day.
  • Mulching around the base of plants (but not against the stems) can help the seedlings to establish. A woody mulch is preferred over pasture hay.
  • A Pottiputki planting tool can be used with seedlings grown in a HIKO tray. The seedlings are inserted into the top of the planter so you don’t have to bend down to plant seedlings.

Owen’s tips for direct seeding:

  • A four-wheel drive direct seeder is a good option for lighter soil types on slopes that are not suited to ripping. Plants sown using direct seeding can take three to five years to germinate. Seeds will germinate at the ideal time and when moisture is available, usually during summer rains.
  • Native grass seed is often expensive. You can reintroduce native grasses cost effectively by sowing or blowing small amounts of seed into degraded pastures. The seed can also be hand sown. Smaller seeds should be mixed with sawdust or vermiculite so they can be spread more effectively.
  • The composition of pasture can be manipulated to include native grasses by allowing the grass time to seed and using rotational grazing. Animals will move the seed around your farm on their coats and in their dung. Wind and rain will increase native grass density over time and seasonal events.
  • The benefit of direct seeding is that the store of seed remains in the soil and will germinate over a number of years,. This helps mitigate the risk of plant failure due to drought. You may need to thin some of the seedlings that emerge over time.
  • Some seeds require treatment before planting. For example, some Acacia seeds require scarification (i.e. soaking in hot water) before planting.

More information:
A Guide to Native Pasture Management
Greening Australia Revegetation Guides for Victoria
Guide for planting temperate grasslands
Plant Net Online – Comprehensive listing of plants in NSW
Braidwood Local Planting Guide for Upper Shoalhaven Landcare
A Guide to Managing Grassy Box Woodlands

This project received grant funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program

Fox and Rabbit Workshop Summary

This workshop explored options available for fox and rabbit control in peri-urban areas. The workshop presenters were Nicky Clark and Phil McGrath, Biosecurity Officers from South East Local Land Services and Alice McGlashan, a local small farmer.

A combination of management tools delivers the best results when it comes to managing feral animals. To manage rabbits and foxes, persistence and planning is required.

Fox Management and Trapping

Alice McGlashan showed us methods that she uses to ‘out fox a fox’ when it comes to soft jaw trapping combined with wildlife cameras. The benefit of soft jaw trapping is that non target species including your neighbours’ dog, possums and other wildlife can be released.

When deciding on where to focus your control program, a wildlife camera can be helpful. Foxes tend to use established pathways and young kits will follow adult paths even if the adult has been killed. You can use a trail camera to learn the favoured routes and pathways of the foxes so you know where to set the traps. This might include locations close to the tracks, chicken pens and adjacent to fences and gates. Once you have established their typical routes on your property, you can use the information to set fox traps in the same place in subsequent years.

Alice’s tips for buying a trail camera are – you get what you pay for, it is worth shopping around and USA sites will often be cheaper. There have been advances in camera technology over the past few years. A no-glow camera is essential. Do not buy a low glow/red glow camera because the light is visible and foxes are put off by the glow.

The use of soft jaw leg hold traps requires skill and training but the results can be good in peri-urban areas. The use of the traps is governed by legislation. The traps should be buried in soil or sand and disguised with surrounding leaf litter. Alice demonstrated laying a number of traps around a bait like a dead chicken or other meat. She suggested wearing gloves and minimising body contact with the ground and nearby objects to minimise the human scent left in the area. Ensure that the trap chains are secure. Once you have trapped the fox you can transfer to fox to a cage and cover the cage with a blanket. Local Land Services biosecurity officers are licensed to euthanise foxes or you can organise a local shooter.

Alice has published a guide to managing predators and trail cameras on her website Nest Box Tails, see the link below and download Alice’s notes on buying a wildlife camera.

Nest Box Tails Feral Predator Control

Nicky and Phil advised that Spring and Autumn are the best time to manage foxes. Options for control include laying 1080 baits, trapping and shooting. Other exclusion methods such as fencing and companion animals can be used but these methods were not discussed at this workshop. South East Local Land Services delivers training on the use of 1080 baits for fox control to minimise risk to other animals. If you use a 1080 baiting program it is essential that the baits are laid in the areas where foxes travel. Any uneaten baits must be picked up to avoid poisoning non-target species.

In NSW there is a Fox Control Pest Order and control programs are most effective when a number of neighbours in an area work together. According to the Department of Primary Industries, re-invasion by foxes can re occur within two to six weeks so ongoing planning and trapping over a number of years and in coordination with neighbours delivers the best results.

More information about managing foxes:
Principles of Pest Animal Management
Standard operating procedure for using soft jaw traps for foxes
Feral Scan Website

Rabbit Control

1080 and Pindone are toxins registered for rabbit control and are listed under the Pest Control Orders issued by the Environment Protection Agency. To use these baits you need to undertake training with Local Land Services. Contact your local office for more information.

Nicky and Phil suggest the following steps for effective rabbit control:

First reduce rabbit numbers using a bating program. A rabbit baiting program involves a pre-feeding routine so that the rabbits learn to eat the carrots before poisoned carrots are put out for one night. Where possible it is good to get a group of neighbours involved in a baiting program. Rabbits can move up to one kilometre from their warren. When they are 20-60 days old, young rabbits will disperse.

Poisoning of non-target species and secondary poisoning are both factors to consider when deciding on a baiting program.

Remove warrens and harbours. The removal of habitat is essential when managing rabbits. This includes the removal of fallen logs, rubbish and blackberries – anywhere that is providing burrow protection for the rabbits.  For warren ripping use an experienced contractor with tines up to 900mm long and rip no less than 50 cm apart.

Warren and harbour destruction guidelines.

Reassess rabbit numbers. Follow up with another control program that could include baiting, trapping or fumigation. If you decide to use a fumigant you can run a dog over the warrens so that all the rabbits go into the burrows before you start. The use of soft jaw traps is approved under legislation for rabbit control and can be effective once rabbit population are brought under control.

Calicivirus is part of the rabbit control story but many rabbit populations have developed resistance to the virus. According to Phil, the second release of the calicivirus only had a 20-40% knockdown effect. You can read more about the biological control of rabbits on the CSIRO website.

You can revegetate the area after ripping and baiting but you will need to monitor for rabbit activity. Of all the methods discussed above, fumigation poses the most risk to humans.

Useful websites for rabbit management:
Local Land Services Rabbit control Website
Uses and effects of 1080 poison
Soft jaw trapping of rabbits
NSW DPI Rabbit Control

This project received funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program.

Poisonous plants and livestock

At this workshop Dr Lou Baskind, the District Veterinarian from South East Local Land Services in Braidwood, discussed weeds, livestock and how pasture plants can be poisonous to ruminent livestock in some conditions. Temperature, rainfall and the plant’s lifecycle can influence the amount of poisonous compounds in a plant. Other plants have inherent physical and chemical properties that are poisonous.

Download a full version of the slides presented by Dr Lou Baskind.

The three common problems that weeds can cause livestock are:

  • Physical impediments such as wool contamination and physical damage to the animal;
  • Malnutrition; and
  • Poisoning.

Key points from the workshop:

  1. Animal species are affected by different weeds, for example, alpacas can tolerate some weeds that sheep and cattle can’t.
  2. Sharp weed seeds can cause damage to the face, eyes and hide of animals. The affected animal is then predisposed to other health problems including secondary infections such as pink eye in cattle and scabby mouth in sheep.
  3. Weeds often out compete other more nutritious pasture species and this can affect the animal’s ability to consume enough feed to meet its nutritional requirements. The fibrous nature of some grass weeds with low digestibility creates gut fill, limiting the intake of nutritious feed. Most weed species are too low in nutrition to maintain body condition. Serrated tussock has the same digestibility as cardboard.
  4. Over 200 plant species are potentially poisonous to ruminants. The three main factors that contribute to plant poisonings are:
    • Plant factors such as toxic chemicals in the plant that are there as a defence mechanism, the stage of growth and the part of the plant;
    • Environmental factors – temperature, water stress and drought; and
    • Animal factors – age, species, prior learning, hunger, malnutrition and confinement.
  5. Fodder oats can cause nitrate toxicity in cattle. When grazing new paddocks be careful with monocultures of the same grass type. Where possible avoid sudden changes of diet because the microbes in the rumen don’t have time to adjust to the new feed which can cause poisoning. Feeding roughage (such as oaten hay) is protective against nitrate poisoning.
  6. If you have multiple deaths in your flock or herd, call your local vet or the district veterinarian. Don’t dispose of the animal carcasses because they can be used for autopsy and blood testing.
  7. First aid if you suspect plant poisoning: remove the animals quietly from the pasture they are grazing, don’t stress or overwork the animals. Provide clean (not green) oaten hay, shade and access to water.
  8. Plant poisonings can be chronic (sudden onset) and cumulative.

Links to websites and weeds that can cause poisoning

Some pasture grasses can be toxic. Phalaris staggers is caused by alkaloid poisoning

St Johns Wort can cause poisoning at certain times of the year.

Patterson’s curse

Bracken fern poisoning

Australia’s poisonous plants, McKenzie, R 2012

NSW DPI Weeds Wise App

Farmers Postcard: Grass and Plant Identification

Learning to identify grass weeds, grasses and native plants was the focus of this event. Kris Nash and Fiona Leach, Agricultural Adviser with South East Local Land Services led a two hour walk and talk in Bungendore in April 2019.

Kris showed the participants how to use the morphology of a grass plant for identification, most importantly the ligule and auricle on the sheath of the grass stem.

Copies of Kris’s handouts explaining the different parts of grasses and identification of grass weeds and native grasses can be found here.

Key messages were:

  • Clearing for agriculture, grazing and urban development has seen the decline of natural temperate grasslands in Australia. There is now only 0.5% of natural temperate grasslands left in Australia. Preserving and managing this declining valuable resource is very important.
  • You need some disturbance regime to manage native grassland. Aboriginal people used traditional burning techniques to manage the diversity of species living in an area.

Fire on native grasslands

  • Grass weeds are like teenagers, they change their appearance with the season making them difficult to identify at different times of the year.
  • Some tips to maintain a healthy pasture;
    • Don’t over graze the pasture and do practice rotational grazing.
    • Cover bare soil where possible and carry around some seed to sow desirable species.
    • Create micro climates for seeds to collect and germinate.
    • If you want to collect seed heads try using old baskets or branches to protect the seed from livestock and kangaroos.
  • African Love Grass can be distinguished from Hairy Panic by looking at the seed. The seed head of the African Love Grass has one seed on the end of the pinnacle. Older plants often look messy at the base with old curly leaves in the centre of the thatch. African Love Grass has a higher feed value than Serrated Tussock but is very invasive.

African Love Grass fact sheet

Serrated Tussock fact sheet

Chilean Needle Grass fact sheet

Friends of Grasslands Website

Fencing for productivity and diversity

The purpose of this workshop was to demonstrate how to design and install electric fencing in ways that make a small farm more productive and increase the range of plants and animals living there. Dean Paton from Gallagher Fencing, Matt Chidgey from Southern Ag and David Hilhorst from Works for Water were the guest speakers at this workshop, sharing their fencing skills in practical and theory sessions.


Some key points from the workshop:

  • The best type of fence to install depends on many factors including land form, location and the purpose of the fence. Electric fencing is suited to managing livestock, predators and feral animals. An electric fence energiser converts mains or battery power to a high voltage pulse. Electric fences generally work by becoming a psychological barrier to animals – they learn about the ‘shock’ that is delivered when they touch the fence and start to avoid it.
  • Effective farm planning and observing animal behaviour can save you time and money. By observing your livestock and the movement patterns of wildlife, you could save money by slightly shifting the location of a fence or aligning it with existing animal tracks. Here are some questions to ask. Why are animals putting pressure on a fence? How can I use a fence to move and manage my livestock or wildlife better? The information sheet written by David Hilhorst (see below) outlines fencing design strategies including fencing for holistic grazing, fencing to land class and wildlife friendly design.
  • Permanent electric fencing can compare favourably to conventional fences in terms of cost. The cost of a fence is determined by many variables including the slope, recommended spacing of posts, dropper interval and the types of materials used. At the time of writing a standard fence will cost approximately $12 a metre for materials and labour. Permanent electric fencing will cost about $10.50 a metre for an 8 strand electric suspension fence such as the Weston Fence demonstrated in this video. The energiser for the electric fence is not included in this cost. For information and advice on pricing and design, contact a fencing supplier. It is wise to shop around and discuss options with other small farmers for the fence that you are building.
  • For fences in flood prone areas, the flood gates should be able to release from the posts if the pressure of water or debris gets too high. Some options for the materials used in flood areas include secondhand fencing materials and semi permanent movable electric fencing .
  • Choosing the correct energiser and earth return system for an electric fence is important. According to Dean Paton, the energiser should be located halfway along the fence. For an electric fence to be effective the electric circuit must be completed. This is achieved by grounding. In dry areas effective earthing can be achieved by using an earth return system or betonite to improve conductivity.
    More information about earthing systems can be found here.
David Hilhorst demonstrating how to tie a fencing knot

Useful resources and links

Free fencing handbook

Guidelines for fencing in flood prone areas

Wildlife friendly fencing design

Fencing how and where for small farms

Basic Information on Electric fencing

Gallegher Fencing Website

There are a range of fencing materials online. The product demonstrated at this workshop was from Gallagher but you could also try Waratah Fencing.


This project received grant funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program.

Ngunawal Cultural Walk and Talk

Plant identification during the walk and talk lead by Traditional Custodian Tyronne Bell

About the walk and talk

This session was about building connections with people and the land: an opportunity to learn more about diversity, indigenous culture and the local area. The walk and talk was led by Tyronne Bell from Thunderstone Aboriginal Cultural and Land Management Services. Tyronne talked about his culture and traditional Ngunawal uses of plants and animals found at the site.

Key points from the workshop
  1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a spiritual connection with the land, that can be expressed in some part through stories about plants, insects and animals in a particular location.
  2. By studying the behaviour of different species of insects, Aboriginal people used their traits to help them in their every day lives.  For example, Tyronne told us about the ability of ants to regulate the temperature of their nest by bring different coloured gravel to the surface of the nest. White in summer and black in winter. Meat ants were used by some Aboriginal people to clean the carcasses of fish so the bones could be used as needles.
  3. If you find Aboriginal artifacts, scar trees or other relics it is important to leave them intact and where you found them. These items hold great significance for Aboriginal people and are protected under NSW law. You can find out more information at the Office of Environment and Heritage website.
  4. Preserving Nungawal language is very important to local Aboriginal people. The language can be spoken by everyone and children especially should be encouraged to use it. Tyronne taught us how to say thank you in the Ngunawal language ‘djan yimaba’. You can find more information about Ngunawal language in the links section below.
  5. Some Aboriginal people used to bend over and weigh down trees in order to use the trunk as a structure to build a shelter on. In winter more permanent structures and caves were used as housing and remains of stone structures built by Aboriginal people have been found in our region.

Tyronne explaining how tree trunks were bent to make a support for a bark shelter.

5. Plant species commonly found in the Bungendore area had special uses for Aboriginal people. For example, the Cherry Ballart (Exocarpus cupressiformis) looks like a small cypress tree and the sweet, juicy fruit provide a spring time snack, the sap can be used for snake bite, the fresh leaves are used for headaches, the roots as clap sticks and it can also be used as a shade tree to camp under. The plant was is used as an indicator species for the coming season.

Hardenbergia violacea used as a tea and for rope.

Other plants that we learnt more about on the walk and talk were Hardenbergia violacea, Indigofera australis, Diannella species, Lomandra species, Acacia species, Cassinia quinquefaria, Microseris lanceolata and Bulbine bulbosa. Tyronne told us about  uses of these plants for food basket weaving and stunning fish. Some of them are poisonous and should not be eaten. Find out more about these plants and their uses by following the links below.

 

Australian National Botanic Gardens Aboriginal Trail

PDF Information Resources Aboriginal Plant Uses – Australian National Botanic Gardens

6. According to local Aboriginal culture there are six seasons in a calendar year and no autumn. The calendar includes two summers, two winters and two springs, each with their signature weather pattern and special traditions.

Other useful information and contacts

Protect and manage objects – Office of Environment and Heritage

Aboriginal Plant Uses in Southern Australia

https://www.anbg.gov.au/aborig.s.e.aust/exocarpus-cupressiformis.html

ACT Environment and Planning Website for indigenous NRM

Plant Net Flora online – http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage ACT pdf brochure – includes pictures of plants

Ngunnawal Plant Use book

Ngunnawal language – simple list of words

Language revival project – https://aiatsis.gov.au/research/research-themes/ngunawal-language-revival-project

Indigenous Weather Calendar BOM

http://www.bom.gov.au/iwk/calendars/gariwerd.shtml

Indigenous weather knowledge

http://www.bom.gov.au/iwk/calendars/gariwerd.shtml

War on Worms workshop summary

Managing worms in livestock is a tricky business for people on small farms. There are many variables to understand and manage including animal factors (breed, age, sex, pregnancy status and nutrition), grazing options and climactic conditions. This workshop was an opportunity for participants to learn about management tools that reduce the need for drenching and maximise the efficiency of drenches when they are used.

Jane Morrison leading the practical demonstration.

Dr Jane Morrison from Coopers Animal Health and Dr Alexandra Stephens from South East Local Land Services spent the day with our participants guiding through the theory of worms and the practical aspects of worm management. Our hosts Suzie and Catherine showed participants how to do DIY faecal egg counts using a microscope.


The following points were the highlights of the workshop for Tracey, one of the participants.

  1. Learning about the life cycle of the different worms in sheep and cattle was really important. I now understand how the worm life cycle can help inform strategic grazing decisions and the class of animal that you might graze on a particular paddock. I found out that temperature and rainfall impact on the survival of worm eggs and larvae on the pasture. There are two main life cycles of worms direct and indirect. Direct life cycles involve only one host, for example round worms and indirect life cycles involve two different types of hosts.

Round worm life cycle

Liver fluke life cycle – an example of an indirect worm life cycle.

  1. Using faecal egg count tests can help inform decision making about drenching livestock and potentially save me time and money. The demonstration of how faecal egg counting is done helped me understand that using worm testing is a good management tool that can enable targeted use of drenches when needed.

Drench decision guide for sheep

  1. Overall, the main benefit of the workshop for me is that I now realise how much detail there is in controlling worms in animals and that improving my knowledge about worms and their management can make a big difference to their health.

Five key components of a worm management strategy

  • Grazing management is the most important factor in controlling worms. Grazing management can include spelling paddocks and choosing the best clean paddocks for the classes of stock that have the highest nutritional demands and susceptibility to worms (weaners and pregnant or lactating ewes). Control worms without drench by using good grazing management including ‘smart grazing’, cross grazing with other species, rotational grazing and the use of fodder crops.

Grazing management and worms

  • Breed and feed for worm resistance. Older animals in good condition have higher immunity to worms than young or poorer animals. Adult cattle and sheep are good at developing worm immunity, except when they are lambing/calving and lactating. Aim for a condition score of 2.5 or above for more resilient animals with stronger immunity. Rams and breeding ewes can be selected for worm resistance – some breeds may have higher immunity to worms including Corriedale and Border Leicester sheep.
  • Use strategic drenching and good drenching principles. Dose correctly to the heaviest animals, calibrate the drench gun, use faecal egg counting to check drench efficiency, choose combination drenches with 2 plus additives. Use long acting drenches judiciously as they can accelerate resistance in worms. Always use a quarantine drench when you purchase new stock even if you have been told that the animals have been drenched. There are special drench combinations that should be used for quarantine drenching. Drench lambs/calves at weaning as they are highly susceptible to worms and are usually being weaned during high worm risk weather. Seek further advice form a vet if you need help.
  • Tactical drenching – these are drenches that are used when a faecal egg count test shows a high result or the animals show clinical signs of worm infestation.

The difference between tactical and strategic drenches – WormBoss

  • Manage worm resistance by informing yourself about the causes and what you can do to help prevent it. Get advice about interpreting faecal egg count tests and managing worms in livestock. Drenching may not be necessary if egg counts are low.

Managing drench resistance

You can contact your Local Land Services office for guidance on managing worms in livestock. Kits for faecal egg count tests are available free from Local Land Services offices and many rural suppliers.

The WormBoss website provides a comprehensive toolkit for managing worms.

 More information and links

Worm Control in Cattle – the Basics – NSW DPI Fact Sheet

Cattle parasite atlas – Meat and Livestock Australia – a comprehensive guide to managing cattle parasites in the different regions of Australia.

South East Local Land Services Animal Health Update – this update includes information on Barbers Pole Worm and Bioworma.

Worm Boss Canberra Region Drench Program

Worm Control in Horses – it’s all changed – Dr Petrea Wait (scroll down to the Animal Health Update February 2018)

DIY worm egg counting

Worm test for livestock and guide to egg counts

Barbervax

Liver Fluke guide from WormBoss

Demonstrating how to drench a sheep

Healing the land: techniques for managing erosion

Community spirit, professional expertise and practical demonstrations were a feature of this erosion and revegetation workshop. Guest speakers David Hilhorst and Andy Taylor from South East Local Land Services and Scott Soper led an inspiring and educational day.

One of our participants Chris Curtis has kindly agreed to allow us to publish his notes and photographs from the day – see the link below.

Erosion workshop notes PDF

This wattle is providing protection to help other plant species to grow

Here are more ideas and strategies from the workshop.

Pioneer plants such as wattle add nitrogen to the soil and improve soil fertility and structure. You can use branches from these plants (preferably with seed attached) and lay them over bare ground to create a nursery for seeds and/or or tube stock.

Locally grown small trees including wattles, kunzea and tea tree can be lopped and placed strategically on an eroded gully floor, the branches can be bundled and pegged creating a brush raft. The raft areas catch sediment that can be direct seeded using native grasses, sedges and rushes.

Look for wet patches above and below small erosion head cuts and use these sites for revegetation using locally sourced plants. Use bendy plants that slow the speed of the water including Juncus species, Carex appressa and Lomandra species. Trees that grow thick trunks should be avoided in confined gully beds and streams because tree trunks can deflect flood waters into banks and exacerbate the erosion problem.

Protect your soil from erosion is by maintaining 70- 80% ground cover in your paddocks and by limiting stock access to dams and dam spill ways. Erosion can be caused by overland flows from vegetation removal, dams, roads and gullies and by subsurface water movement. You can use simple clues to help you read your land, for example, are larger trees dying in patches? This could indicate that salinity is a problem. The eroded site at the property we visited was most likely being impacted by saline ground water which we learned also affects the water quality in the dam.

Mapping shallow ground water with an electrical conductivity survey gives an insight into the depth of the water resource and the salinity of an area. Windellama Landcare owns electrical conductivity (EC) mapping equipment and it can be hired for use by property owners and contractors. You should seek advice from South East Local Land Services to help you plan your erosion control work and EC mapping – Contact your Local Land Services office.

Learning how to do a simple sodicity test

Sodic soil demonstration by Andy Taylor and David Hilhorst

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An example of sodic soil at the site in Bungendore

Eroded patches of sodic soils in gullies look like candle wax or stalactites. You can do a simple sodicity test using a small clod of soil and a clear dish. If area around the clod becomes cloudy, this indicates that the soil is sodic and might be highly erosive.  Soil sampling of your farm could help you decide if you should be planting salt tolerant species at an eroded site.

Saline and Sodic Soils – the Difference video

Weirs, rock structures and rock/wire mesh weirs are all examples of “controlled activities” that may require a permit. Contact the Office of Water for advice about building structures including dams in drainage lines. As a general principle, water should always be returned to the same drainage line not diverted to another site. Before undertaking major works in water courses and gullies it is wise to check that your contractor has sought the correct approvals.

Contact a water regulatory officer as listed on the Office of Water website, call the licensing information on 1800 353 104 or email information@water.nsw.gov.au for more information.

Stabilising an erosion site above a dam. The hessian rolls were filled with mulch and compost and seeded with grass seed.

Jute or hessian can be used on bare eroded sites to create zones where vegetation can be established. ‘Burritos’ can be made by wrapping jute or hessian fabric around a mixture of forest mulch and compost which can then be laid on the contour and held in place using wire pegs. Mulched areas can then be seeded with a soil conservation grass mix or local native grasses. Once micro climates have been established other plants can be encouraged to grow using the brush raft technique described above.

 

Weeds such as blackberry and serrated tussock can be used as a resource to help provide mulch, organic matter and plant cover at eroded sites if they are already growing there. It is important though to manage weeds to prevent flowering or setting seed by cutting, spraying or manual removal. Chip and spray the weeds or cut the canes and leave them in situ on the gully floor or bank, this slows the flow of water and traps sediment. The area can be then planted with desirable plants and grasses. The thorny plants can act as protection for new plants during establishment. Continual monitoring of weed prone sites is important.

The SIX Maps website can be used to  work out the size of the catchment for an erosion head cut. For example, using SIX Maps, Andy Taylor estimated that for 1 in 50 year high rainfall events, the gully on this farm would have one tonne of water per second flowing over it. That is equivalent to one intermediate bulk container (IBC)/second. Estimating catchment size, soil testing and electrical conductivity testing are just some of the tools that can be used when planning erosion control measures.

Further information and resources

Gully Erosion Assessment and Control Guide

The Farm Dam Handbook

Rural Living Guide – A guide for Rural Landholders in the South East

Guide to Managing Ground Cover – MLA

DPI Erosion Website

Grassland Flora – a field guide for the Southern Tablelands

Native tree and shrub resources

SIX Maps – mapping tool

This event was made possible with funding and in-kind support from South East Local Land Services.