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  • 15 Sep 2020 12:15 PM | Alex James (Administrator)

    Climate change is a big thing. How do we tackle it and prepare for it? The Small Farms and Climate Change Forum on 5 September 2020 was an opportunity to examine these issues and identify the topics that small farmers want to learn about in relation to climate change.

    You can view the recording of the Forum presentations here

    Our guest speakers were Melinda Hillery, Senior Project Officer, Climate Resilience and Net Zero Emissions Branch, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, and farmers Harry Watson from Millpost Merino and Helena Warren from Cadfor Agistment and Murray Greys.

    Below is a summary of the key points discussed at the Forum and links to more resources on climate change.

    Mel Hillery provided a snapshot of the projected changes to weather patterns in the near future (around 2030) and the far future (around 2070) as a result of climate change. She suggested the best way to prepare for climate change is to know (inform yourself about climate change), assess how climate change might impact us and respond by taking positive actions to prepare for climate change.

    KNOW: What we know from climate research and historical observation

    Climate change is happening now. We are already seeing impacts of increasing global temperatures such as changing snow seasons, bushfire, floods and droughts. There are flow-on effects to native ecosystems and impacts on farming and aquaculture. Examples include bushfire smoke taint to grapes and increasing ocean temperatures that have led to tropical species moving further south.

    The areas that have warmed the most since 1970 are in Eastern Australia and the observed increase has been 0.3-0.4 degrees/decade. Further information on historical climate change in our region is available at the Bureau of Meteorology website.

    Modelling for the South East and Tablelands region of NSW suggests that by 2030 the number of hot days will increase with 5-10 extra hot days above 35 degrees Celsius per year compared to 1960-1990.

    Rainfall projections under climate change are more complicated. It is expected that there will be more rainfall extremes and it is projected that spring rainfall will be reduced.  These changes are indicated in all of the climate models from the NSW Government.

    ASSESS: What climate change means for you and your community

    Mel suggests a vulnerability assessment is better for small farmers than a risk assessment.

    These are the key features of a vulnerability assessment:

    • Climate hazards:  what are they (eg. increasing temperature, heat waves, floods, fire)?
    • How sensitive are my activities and my property to these hazards?
    • What is my capacity/capability to manage that?
    • Where am I the most vulnerable (combine hazards, sensitivity and capacity)?

    Use this to plan ahead. This is where we move from ‘business as usual' to how can we adapt to climate change.

    RESPOND: Adaptation and transition to a low carbon future

    The NSW Government has a target of net zero emissions by 2050.

    Good news includes work being done by the Cobargo Community post fires and the Yass Area Network Climate Ready Revegetation Project. You can find out more about these projects here. 

    Harry Watson and Helena Warren provided us with case studies about how they are managing and adapting to climate change.

    Key points from Harry:

    • Have a good farm plan.
    • Plant lots of trees and shrubs that can be used for multiple purposes. Tree planting has been extensive on Millpost farm, including planting oaks and deciduous trees to the north western fire sector. The trees are used for shade, stock fodder and cooling the homestead and stock yards. They also provide windbreaks from the prevailing weather systems from the north west.
    • Think about how you farm. Millpost Farm have changed their sheep genetics. This means that they no longer have to mules their sheep and there is less pressure from fly strike. They are moving to shearing twice/year.
    • Practice rotational grazing. Millpost Farm grazes their sheep all in one mob and allows the pasture long recovery periods. Moveable troughs allow flexibility in grazing.
    • In times of drought Harry suggests you destock and/or hand feed your stock in feed lots.
    • The farm has a high proportion of native grasses in some of the grazing paddocks, Harry thinks that these grasses can cope better with climate extremes.
    • Kangaroos are causing grazing pressure on Millpost Farm. To look at this problem they are involved in a study with the University of Tasmania trialling the use of Maremma dogs as apex predators to see if they deter the kangaroos from the grazing paddocks.

    Some useful texts:

    Permaculture - Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability 

    Holistic Management Handbook 

    Water for Every Farm - Yeoman's Keyline Plan

    Key points from Helena:

    • Helena suggests you maintain rain-ready pastures by providing adequate nutrition for your pasture and checking your soil acidity. Keep your soil at pH 5.5 because the bacteria involved in creating soil organic carbon don’t like acid conditions. Adequate potassium reduces cold stress for plants. Ensure there is adequate soil nutrition at the end of the winter so the plants are ready to grow when the soil warms up.
    • Establish tropical pastures (C4 grasses) to take advantage of summer rainfall.
    • Helena is trialling planting fodder trees – Tagasaste (tree lucerne) for drought feeding. 
    • Helena chooses to breed cattle with light coloured coats that deal with the heat better.
    • Disease burdens in the Capital Region for Blue Tongue, Akabane, Ephemeral Fever and Queensland itch are changing. How? Generally, these diseases are moving south east as the climate warms and summer has more rainfall.  

    Resources and further information

    Further information on climate change and adaptation can be found in the links below:

    NSW Government Adapting to Climate Change

    Impact of climate change on biodiversity

    Specific snap shots for soil erosion and biodiversity have been developed and can be viewed on the Adaptation Research Hub website.

    Information on climate ready trees and revegetation 

    Which Plant Where?

    Information on the importance of soil organic matter

    More information on C3 and C4 grasses.

    More information on Blue Tongue disease and its movement south.

    This event was made possible with funding from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Increasing Resilience to Climate Change Community Grants Program. 

  • 17 Aug 2020 3:43 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    Allan, a small farmer in Bywong, tells us about his truffle farm.

    Watch the video

  • 8 Jul 2020 7:29 AM | Alex James (Administrator)

    Vaccinations can help prevent common sheep diseases when used correctly. They have the potential to improve sheep health across the region for all farms, small and large. A key element in deciding which vaccines are useful on your farm is to find out the risk of particular diseases in the local district and the past history of your property.

    Many vaccines require two doses for the vaccination to be effective followed up with annual boosters. Specific recommendations for effective vaccination can be found in the manufacturer’s instructions for each vaccine along with information about storage conditions and the length of time that the vaccine can be used after opening.

    Correct injection technique and sterile, clean needles are required both to deliver an effective vaccination and to protect sheep and people from adverse side effects. Used syringes and needles need to be disposed of safely. For more information about injection techniques in Making More From Sheep: Sheep Husbandry Practices.

    Vaccines can help prevent the following diseases of sheep in Australia. The information provided below is general in nature. It is strongly recommended that you consult your vet or animal health advisor before carrying out a vaccination program.

    Commentary marked with * was provided by Alex Stephens, District Veterinarian, South East Local Land Services in July 2020.

    Tetnus, Black Leg, Black Disease, Malignant Oedema and Pulpy Kidney (Clostridial diseases)
    5-in-1 vaccination – typically given as a primer dose at lamb marking followed by a booster dose four to six weeks later and then an annual booster dose. Various brands available.

    This vaccine is widely used throughout Australia and is usually the one being referred to when people say that their sheep are vaccinated.

    * Booster vaccinations are recommended to be given more often, every three months in high risk situations, particularly to younger stock. Boosters are also recommended to be given at other high risk times such as grazing high risk pastures and crops and at the start of a flush of green grass after a long dry spell.

    MLA Clostridial Diseases information

    Agriculture Victoria Clostridial Diseases

    Cheesy Gland
    6-in-1 vaccination – covers same diseases as 5-in1 as well as Cheesy Gland and has similar vaccination regime. Various brands available.

    * Cheesy gland is an endemic disease in the Capital Region so Alex Stephens advised use of 6-in-1 rather than 5-in-1 for the initial vaccinations and annual booster. Use 5-in-1 if you are giving the extra boosters in high risk situations mentioned above to manage a higher clostridial risk.

    MLA Cheesy Gland information

    NSW DPI Fact Sheet Cheesy Gland

    Johnes Disease
    Gudair vaccination – single dose lifetime vaccination given to lambs.

    * The Capital Region is one of the highest endemic areas for Ovine Johne’s Disease. Alex Stephens advised that this vaccination is given to any sheep that are going to be kept to be greater than 2 years of age (ie. breeding stock or wethers).

    MLA Australia Gudair information

    DPI Johnes Disease Fact Sheet

    Erysipelas arthritis
    Eryvac and Eryguard are brands of vaccine – primer and booster dose for lambs then annual vaccination.

    * This vaccine is given in response to a diagnosis of this bacterial cause of arthritis on a property. This disease has been diagnosed and vaccinated against in the Capital Region.  Where properties are getting higher rates of arthritis an investigation and diagnosis is advised.

    Scabby Mouth
    Scabigard is a vaccine option – single dose given to lambs.

    *Scabby Mouth is a common viral disease seen in the Capital Region.  It is present in some flocks and not in others. It is only advisable to vaccinate against this disease as a disease control measure if it is present on your property, as vaccination (with the live vaccine) will introduce the disease to your property.  It is a nasty disease and vaccination is an effective control measure.

    DPI Scabby Mouth Fact Sheet

    Barbers Pole Worm
    BarberVax – a vaccine option where Barbers Pole worms are prevalent and resistant to drenches.

    * Fortunately in the Capital Region we can still use strategic drenching with effective drenches to control Barbers Pole Worm. This is a very effective vaccine and should be considered where producers want or need to drench less or they have significant resistance issues. This vaccine has not had a high uptake in this area so you may need to order it in in advance and courier fees may apply.

    WormBoss Barbers Pole Worm

    Ovilis Campyvax – where abortions and still born lambs have been caused by Campylobacter infection. Initial primer and booster dose followed by annual booster given to ewes before joining.

    * Campylobacter is a prevalent disease is the Capital Region. The vaccine is reasonably new. Uptake of this vaccine has been higher in recent years, reflecting higher sheep prices and research showing the disease to be quite prevalent in the area. Abortions are more likely to be seen when sheep are being held more closely together and eating from the ground, such as during drought feeding times. See the link for a local case study.

    Campylobacter case study

    Anthrax vaccine – annual vaccination which requires authorisation in NSW by Local Land Services.

    Anthrax is a serious and usually fatal. It is a notifiable disease in NSW. It typically occurs in an area through the centre of NSW and into Victoria.

    * The Capital Region is not within the Anthrax belt/zone and so vaccination against Anthrax would not be advised. Vaccination is usually done in response to control of an outbreak, which would most usually occur within the Anthrax zone

    More information on anthrax

    To contact your local District Veterinarian  in NSW, visit NSW Local Land Service Contact us

    This post was reviewed by Alex Stephens, the District Veterinarian from South East Local Land Services (SELLS). Alex works at the Yass SELLS office.

  • 8 Jul 2020 6:58 AM | Alex James (Administrator)

    In this webinar Alastair Rayner from Rayner Ag discussed sheep nutrition, how to use the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Drought and Supplementary Feed Calculator app, biosecurity and the National Vendor Declaration Scheme. The webinar was recorded on 10 June 2020.

    You can watch the webinar recording on the Small Farms Network Capital Region YouTube Channel.

    Key points from the webinar:

    • Poor production and ill thrift can usually be attributed to a lack of energy or protein in the sheep’s diet. Sufficient energy and protein are essential for growth and health. Fibre in feed enables the rumen to function correctly. More about rumen function.
    • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are not the first factor that impedes the growth and health of sheep. A lack of energy or protein to meet the animals' basic demand for nutrients is most likely the cause of ill thrift.
    • The moisture in grass and supplements will affect calculations for the ‘as fed’ amount in rations. The ‘as fed amount’ is the amount of feed minus the moisture content. You can find out more about dry matter and pasture assessment on the Lifetime wool website
    • Care need to be taken when introducing new feeds to sheep. Grains and pellets need to be introduced slowly (over at least two weeks) to reduce the risk of acidosis. Feeding out plenty of fibre rich hay or grass can buffer the effects of grain poisoning.
    • The NSW Drench plan from WormBoss summarises a plan for managing intestinal worms in sheep in NSW. The WormBoss website provides extensive information and tools for managing worms. The Capital Region is in the WormBoss NSW Non-Seasonal Rainfall area.
    • The NSW DPI Drought and Supplementary Feed Calculator app can be used to calculate how much supplementary feed (if any) to give your sheep and to choose types of feed suited to the circumstances of your sheep and pastures. It includes an easy-to-use pasture digestibility and availability assessment tool. This helps you to decide whether you have enough pasture for your sheep to meet their nutritional requirements. Ewes in late pregnancy, lactating ewes and weaners have a higher demand for energy and protein. The weight of the sheep also affects the amount of feed needed (a smaller sheep eats less).
    • Targeted mineral supplements in late pregnancy can improve lambing outcomes. The most common mineral deficiencies in ewes are magnesium and calcium. This article from Australian Wool Innovation covers the metabolic syndromes of ewes and how to manage them.

    Other useful websites

    Agriculture Victoria - Trace minerals in sheep

    Sheep Connect - Pasture assessment skills and feed management

    WormBoss control program for non-seasonal rainfall areas in NSW

  • 7 Jul 2020 1:24 PM | Alex James (Administrator)

    This webinar covered the information for people thinking of keeping production poultry on a small scale for eggs, meat or live chicken sales. The webinar was recorded on Saturday 27 June 2020 and features Dr Lou Baskind, District Veterinarian from South East Local Land Services, and Wendy Hutton, a chicken farmer from just outside Canberra.

    Watch the webinar recording

    Key messages:

    • Check with your local council about what planning permissions are required for the size of your enterprise. You may require a permit for some agricultural enterprises depending on your zone and the type of business. Roadside stalls have specific requirements. Requirements vary between Councils. 
    • There are rules in NSW that govern the production of eggs on a small scale. You will need an egg stamp if selling from somewhere other than your own farm gate. Check out the NSW Food Authority Guidelines.
    • The best way to keep your eggs clean is to provide clean nesting boxes and collect the eggs regularly. Providing appropriate perches will stop birds sleeping in and dirtying the nesting boxes. It is illegal to sell eggs that are cracked or covered in faeces.
    • It is preferable to not wash eggs. People can become infected with Salmonella and other diseases after eating foods that are directly or indirectly contaminated with animal faeces.
    • If you want to sell chicken meat you need to use a registered abattoir. For home consumption, there are humane slaughter guidelines available that include stunning the animal as best practice. The handling of animals for slaughter should not be rushed. Read the guidelines. 
    • If you have 100 or more poultry you need to apply for a property identification code (PIC).
    • Biosecurity management of your flock is important. Diseases are costly to production. Any new birds should be kept in quarantine away from your existing flock for three weeks and monitored for signs of ill health.
    • Two common diseases of chickens that are challenging to manage with biosecurity alone are Marek’s disease and Fowl Pox. Vaccination is an important part of their management. Vaccinating chickens for Mareks disease requires skill and good timing because the chicken needs to be vaccinated when it is one day-old. More about Marek's Disease.
    • Off-label use of veterinary chemicals is not allowed without a veterinary authority. You need to know and follow the required withholding period for each product administered to your birds.

    Other resources

    Biosecurity Checklist for Poultry Keeping (a simple guide from DPI Tasmania)

    NSW DPI Guidelines for Poultry Biosecurity

  • 7 Jul 2020 12:58 PM | Alex James (Administrator)

    Despite good rainfall in many areas since autumn, some patches of soil are still bare. Dr Jason Condon from Charles Sturt University explained how soil acidity can be a factor driving poor ground cover in pastures. Jennie Curtis, a small farmer from the Capital Region, showed us some of the bare patches at her place.

    The webinar recorded on Saturday 4 July 2020 will help you to develop an understanding of soil acidity including the causes and influence of soil acidity on plants and the landscape. Simple methods to diagnose soil acidity are explained. Addressing soil acidity may be a useful step in filling the bare patches on your land.

    Watch the webinar recording

    Key messages:

    1. Soil pH is a measure of hydrogen ions in the soil. The most commonly used pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. As the number goes down from 7 (ie. 6, 5, 4...) the soil acidity increases while values above 7 are alkaline. In the Capital Region many soils are acidic. Soil pH can be measured in the field using a test kit or by sending a sample to a laboratory for more accurate results. The pH (CaCl2) test is the more accurate of the two pH tests, as it reflects what the plant experiences in the soil. The values of pH (CaCl2) are normally lower than pH(w) by 0.5 to 0.9. A simple pH soil testing kit from the rural shop measures pH in water.

    NSW DPI Understanding Soil pH  

    NSW DPI Soil Acidity and Liming

    2. Agriculture involves removing plant material either by harvesting plants or grazing plants and this process acidifies soils. To counteract this you need to get to know what the problems are for your soils.

    3. If your soil is pH 5 or lower, the percentage of available Aluminum is more likely to be at levels that are toxic to plants. High Aluminium reduces root growth and stops cellular growth at the root tip - the roots will be short and stumpy. Where  % Aluminium is high, Magnesium and Calcium are leeched away from the root zone.

    4. Soil acidity is not uniform down through a soil profile so the pH results from a 0-10cm soil test won't give you the full story. Often the pH at the surface where plants are growing is higher and then the soil is more acidic further down. A dig stick can be used with pH indicator powder from a pH test kit to show the range of acidity in your soil profile (see photo below where the pH in water is being tested).

    5. When you get a soil test done, only pay for what you need. A simple soil test should include soil pH, electrical conductivity, available phosphorus, cation exchange capacity, % Aluminium and organic carbon.

    6. Lime is akaline and can be used to adjust soil pH. It is not an annual fertiliser. Soil tests should be used to identify the need for lime and the effects of applying lime can take a long time to be seen. In acidic soils, research suggests that lime moves down through the soil profile best when a target pH of 5.5 is used. This often requires a high initial application rate followed by small top ups every few years for maintenance of a target pH of 5.5. This approach allows lime to be applied on the surface or in relatively shallow seed furrows and to move down through the soil profile without cultivation of the soil. Monitoring your soil is essential for finding our what works on your farm.

    7. Plain lime is best for surface application. Prilled lime can have a good effect when applied in seed rows or riplines but generally is not as effective as regular lime when applied on the surface.

    This project is supported by South East Local Land Services, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

  • 30 Jun 2020 11:46 AM | Alex James (Administrator)

    Dr Lou Baskind, District Veterinarian Form South East Local Land Services, joined the small farms network for a webinar about keeping backyard chickens.

    Key messages:

    • All animals under human control have the right to minimum animal health standards. This is called the five freedoms model.  
    • To thrive, laying hens need access to clean, cool water - don’t forget that water will freeze in winter in cooler climates and should be checked daily.
    • A ration composed of energy, protein, Calcium and micronutrients is essential. Inadequate protein can lead to nutritional stress, which can cause feather pecking, reduced egg laying and poor immunity. Check the protein content of your feed is adequate. 16% protein is needed for adult layers.
    • Provide a range of Calcium sources for your chickens. It takes 15 hours for a chicken to produce an egg and egg formation usually occurs overnight. If there is insufficient Calcium in the blood it can be mobilised from the bones causing stress for the bird. Calcium should be provided in lots of different sizes. Some examples are clean and dry crushed egg shells, crushed oyster shells and limestone.
    • Only use registered chemicals for treating worms, lice and red mite. Always observe the withholding periods on the packet. Off-label use of other vermicides can be dangerous for your chickens and human health because there are no recommended dose rates or with holding periods. A veterinarian is best placed to advise on the use of chemicals for parasite management in your flock. They can give an off-label authority if you need to use chemicals that are not registered for chickens. Lice from chickens will not affect humans.
    • Chickens need the right size and shape of perch (flat) for the size of their feet. Do not use round perches such as dowels. The chook needs to be able to fit their whole foot onto the perch so they can rest properly. 
    • Daylight hours affect the natural laying behaviour of chickens. If your chicken is not laying in winter that is most likely because of their natural breeding rhythm.

    UPDATE: Pestene Insect Powder is a registered chemical for lice in chickens and can be safely used.  Pestene is best used as a preventative and can be added to the dust bathing area or directly applied to the chickens.

    Registered chemicals for poultry

    Product Name

    Registered for laying poultry

    Pestene (sulphur and rotenone dusting powder)


    Avitrol Bird Mite and Lice Spray


    (Caged birds)

    Avian Insect Liquidator


    (ornamental and caged birds)

    Avimec (Ivermectin)

    NO (budgerigars)

    Fido's Fre-Itch Rinse Concentrate for Dogs and Cats




    Fipronil (Frontline Spray Flea and Tick Control for Cats and Dogs)


    Further information

    Essentials for Backyard Chicken Keeping and Health by Dr Lou Baskind

    DIY rodent free chicken feeder from Gardening Australia

    NSW Department of Primary Industries Poultry Fact Sheets 

    The Queeensland Department of Industry has published a series of articles relating to poultry diseases and health. Follow the links below to find out more information.

    Moulting and the laying hen

    Feather loss not related to moulting

  • 27 Mar 2020 11:22 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    This workshop examined rural landscape issues emerging as a result of prolonged drought and recent bushfires. The workshop was held in Bombay, just south of Braidwood.

    Led by Andy Taylor from South East Local Land Services (SELLS) in Braidwood, the workshop was an opportunity for local farmers learn about actions they can take to mitigate the effects of erosion. We also learnt from Judy Carmody about the support available from the Rural Mental Health Resilience Program and Felicity Sturgiss, Senior Land Services Officer (SELLS), talked to us about ways to support wildlife after fires.

    Andy Taylor has written a handy guide to managing erosion after fire.

    Jane Ambrose from Upper Shoalhaven Landcare talked about Landcare in the area and how to get involved in the projects they run. Jane kindly agreed to share her notes from the workshop.

    Key points from the workshop were:

    • The scale of the drought and fires has made erosion events more likely due to lack of ground cover. A question asked at the workshop was “How do I to prioritise erosion control activities?” Andy suggests using Six Maps to calculate the catchment size above an erosion point and prioritising groundworks on the gullies with the largest catchment. You can slow water higher in the landscape by using grazing management to maintain ground cover and sediment traps to slow water runoff.
    • Understanding your soil type is vital for remediating erosion. Around the Bombay area, where the soils are sodic and highly erodible, protecting the topsoil is critical to prevent erosion. Information about your soil type can be looked up on eSpade along with soil testing results for your area. Here is the eSpade link and an example of the soil report you can get from eSpade.
    • Dams and rivers away from the fire grounds have been adversely affected by debris from ash, soil and dung. These contaminants can cause water quality issues for stock, fish and other water users. It is possible to build a sediment trap above a dam using vegetation, rocks or a sediment fence to slow down the movement of water into the dam so that debris is dropped in the trap before the water reaches the dam. This will improve the quality of the water collected in the dam.
    • Repairing containment lines created by bulldozers during the fires is important to reduce erosion. Replacing the topsoil with a grader is a good way to start. Mitre and roll over drains can help slow down and divert water in steep sections. Weed free hay bales can also be used as sediment traps to slow water movement.
    • Because of the intensity of the recent bushfires, the seed bank in the soil could be depleted. A hot fire can change the soil chemistry including soil pH and soil structure. Generally speaking, native grasses have evolved with fire and will recover better than introduced species of grasses. Perennial grasses with deeper root system can also recover well, depending on how hot the soil surface became. Consider using sterile Rye Corn to help establish groundcover. Rye Corn is a better choice than other exotic species on sites with high conservation values where you don’t want to introduce weeds and new exotic grasses. Branches, jute mesh, rocks and other vegetation can all be used to slow down water and create niches for plants and pastures to establish.

    Branches create a planting niche

    Using old lucerne hay under jute matting to slow down water

    Jute matting with seed spread over the top

    Felicity and Andy reiterated the importance of biosecurity when planning erosion works and when feeding wildlife. For example, use straw or other inert materials for erosion management rather than hay or materials containing seed to prevent the spread of weeds. Seek appropriate advice on what to feed wildlife in fire affected areas and avoid feeding meadow hay that could accidentally introduce weeds.

    The following are links to more information:

    Understanding the impact of the 2020 fires

    Building a sediment fence

    Pasture recovery after fire

    Fire retardant plant list from Yarralumla Nursery (but remember all plants can burn)

    Bushfire Customer Care NSW Government

    Healing the land techniques for managing erosion workshop summary

    The Small Farms Network Capital Region received funding from the Every Bit Counts project. The Every Bit Counts project has been funded by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.

  • 22 Mar 2020 11:05 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    The network’s very first webinar was a discussion about sheep handling on small farms. Things like yard setup, weighing sheep and feeding out can be done in many ways. The scale of small farm operations means that producers need to find cost-effective, practical solutions to everyday sheep handling tasks that our larger farming cousins take for granted. Sometimes these solutions can be slower to carry out but when there are only a few sheep, this is not necessarily a problem.

    This webinar, presented by Jennie Curtis from Roogulli Farm, was a chance for small farmers to see some ideas for sheep handling equipment, learn from each other and ask questions.

    Jennie, with assistance from Alice McGlashan, created a video showing ideas for yards for small flocks, a way to weigh sheep, a method for tipping sheep up and a variety of feeders.

    Watch the video

    Weigh bars and race set up

    Homemade sheep feeder

    Download design for sheep hay and pellet feeder used at Roogulli Farm (based on many others found in Google searches)

    For general principles of yard design and the U-Bugle design in particular see The ‘U’ bugle sheep yard from NSW DPI.

    Thank you to Jennie Curtis, Alice McGlashan and Chris Curtis for assisting with this webinar and donating their time.

    The Small Farms Network Capital Region received funding from the Every Bit Counts project. The Every Bit Counts project has been funded by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.

  • 3 Jun 2016 10:33 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    Former NSW Department of Agriculture Sheep and Wool Officer, Col Langford, led an informative and interactive discussion aimed at improving the skills and knowledge of livestock managers. An outdoor practical session followed where participants learned about estimating the age of a sheep, how to catch sheep and fat scoring along with pasture and weed assessment.

    South East Local Land Services District Veterinarian, Dr Kate Sawford detailed the legislative requirements for Property Identification Codes (PICS) and the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS). Did you know that all properties with stock (even just one animal) need a PIC? If you move sheep from one property to another then you need to record this in the online NLIS.

    There was also a discussion about drenching, sheep diseases and routine management of sheep. The WormBoss website is a good resource for finding out managing intestinal worms in sheep to avoid unnecessary drenching.

    Take home messages from the field day for participants Jennie and Susan were:

    1. Sheep have lice. Just like children have nits. So don’t buy “lousy” sheep. Check before you buy.
    2. In this region it is a good idea to supplementary feed pregnant ewes over winter. In June and July the pasture hardly grows at all and this is the time when pregnant ewes most need to maintain their weight.
    3. Sheep pellets are the equivalent of convenience food for sheep. While they use grains in their manufacture, they have lower nutritional value than grains and cost more to provide the same amount of energy to the sheep. You can’t even rely on them to use the same recipe every time so you should introduce each new batch slowly. You can use the by-products from malt whiskey distilling to supplement the feeding of your sheep. A wee dram of feed introduced slowly over two weeks will get them used to the taste.
    4. Dorper lambs can be very good at jumping.
    5. Fat score 2 is a very bony sheep. Fat score 3 is just right. It’s not hard to learn to take the fat score of sheep. If you cook a steak using the palm of your hand to test how well it’s cooked you can score a sheep.
    6. The best way to help with lambing is to keep the ewes at fat score 3 throughout their pregnancy. It’s true. All breeds can have easy births. Just like breeders advertise. It’s all down to the shepherd. A well-managed pregnant ewe will usually have an easy birth.
    7. You can have sheep and still have a life. It’s all down to planning. A yearly management calendar will let you know what needs to be done and when. You can then plan a holiday.


    • Farm biosecurity measures can protect your property from the entry of pests and diseases and can save property owners time and money managing their stock. See
    • Information about PICs and South East Local Land Services information and advice can be obtained from Your local district veterinarian at South East Local Land Services can also provide you with information and advice on managing worms in your flock. There are some key measures that landholders can take to manage worms in their flocks including buying worm resistant rams, providing adequate nutrition particularity to pregnant ewes, doing regular worm counts and rotating drench types. See
    • Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline1800 675 888
    • The Tocal Agricultural College publishes a series of booklets designed to assist you in managing your enterprise. You can order the Sheep Agskills and Fencing Agskills booklets on line at

    This field day was made possible by funding from the National Landcare Programme, from the Australian Government and support from South East Local Land Services.

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Other online resources

Getting started on a small rural property
Rural Living Guide from South East Local Land Services is a good place to start. Every time we have hard copies of this guide they get snapped up like hot cakes. You can read the PDF version any time.
PICs and NLIS – information you need to know about keeping and moving livestock between properties before you buy livestock

Overview of managing small blocks in the Capital region from Wamboin Gearys Gap Landcare group including an extensive list of plants suitable for planting on rural blocks in our region.

Weeds and pest animals
Information sheets and strategies for weeds in our region from Molonglo Catchment Group
Integrated Weed Management Plan – A Land Managers Guide from South East Local Land Services leads you through the process of working out a plan for working with the weeds on your property
Information sheets for pest animals for our region from Molonglo Catchment Group
Information from South East Local Land Services about pest animal control

Soils and pasture
Video presentations from the Alternative Fertilisers Trial seminar held in Bookham in 2015. There are many theories about how to improve soil fertility in pastures. Here are results based on rigorous scientific investigation.
Dean Revell has a PhD in animal nutrition and was a lead researcher for the Enrich project looking at native forage shrubs in grazing systems. He led the SFN Capital Region’s Fodder Workshop in 2016. His website has links to three online books using about fodder shrubs. (
PROGRAZE (TM) is longer workshop series builds skills in managing pastures and grazing for profit and sustainability. The course runs fairly regularly but if you are in a hurry you can have a look at the manual online.


A USA based site but good for those interested in all things sheep.
All things Sheep with a great event calendar showing all sheep related events across NSW.

Sheep management calendar template
Lets you plan ahead.

Beef calendar of operations by South East Local Land Services – what to do and when – was written for the NSW south coast but a useful guide for the Capital region too.


Email them with your postal address and they’ll send you a free info pack on everything alpaca.

Information on options for raising goats.


Good range of books, everything from beekeeping to small cattle for small farms.
AgGuide and Agskills books – advice on natural resource management and all sorts of farming written by technical experts at Department of Primary Industries. A good place for new small farmers to start.

Rural information from organisations
ACT and South East NSW business and community lead organisation focussed on growing local and regional food communities. Recently merged with Permaculture eXchange to create Southern Harvest Education.
Landcare Australia – find your local Landcare group
Australian Government Statutory body that works with industry in research and development in the rural sector. Has loads of information and resources on its site across all the rural industries.
A great initiative of RIRDC and allows you to find suitable crop and animal enterprises by entering a type or by entering your postcode.
NSW Department of Primary Industries has done a huge amount of research related to farming. Their website has many Agfact sheets written by the researchers about every practical farm related topic you can imagine. : Agriculture Victoria has some great information for new landholders, some of it Victorian based, but most of it suitable for all.


Small Farms Network Capital Region Inc
PO Box 313
NSW 2621

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