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

    Dr Dean Revell from Revell Science in Western Australia was the keynote speaker at the Fodder Trees and Shrubs for Grazing Systems field day in Bywong. Over 35 farmers attended to learn about how native fodder trees and shrubs can be incorporated into livestock systems.

    Dr Revell led a discussion about how fodder grazing systems using native shrubs combined with pasture can provide stock on small and large farms with feed during autumn and winter feed gaps (or any other time when the weather is being unkind). We learned that shrubs use ground water not accessible to grasses, bring nutrients to the surface for other plants to use and provide shade and shelter for grazing stock. Dr Revell also outlined the amazing ways in which stock learn to use fodder shrubs and how we can use animal behaviour to teach stock to eat new plants.

    Grazing systems using shrubs also benefit animals by reducing stress caused by extremes in temperature, allowing the metabolic system of the animal to work efficiently which keeps growth rates steady. Some shrub species also provide medicinal value to the livestock thereby reducing worm burdens and potentially methane gas production. Farm productivity improves by reducing the cost of inputs including supplementary feed and drenches. It also allows farmers flexibility in rotating paddocks and feed resources. The downside to fodder crops is the initial start-up cost, but economic modelling over the long term showed improved grazing productivity.

    Geoff Butler from Wamboin Gearys Gap Landcare was on hand to share his extensive knowledge on local plant species that could be suitable for fodder. He discussed the establishment of shelter belts and the importance of site preparation including ripping, time of planting and tube stock establishment. Establishing effective windbreaks can have many positive effects in farming systems in addition to slowing wind speeds at ground level including providing habitat for beneficial birds and insects, providing additional feed resources during drought (using fodder trees suitable for coppicing) and providing shade and shelter for stock.

    South East Local Landcare Services Officer Matthew Lieschke gave a seasonal update and demonstrated how to calculate supplementary feeding rates for livestock if you do not have any fodder shrubs to fill the gap.

    A key message from the field day is that incorporating native fodder shrubs into a grazing system can reduce the need to hand feed and that while stock are using the fodder shrub area, other pastures are able to recover better.


    The Enrich Project that Dr Revell worked on has now finished but the reports from the project are available online:

    Perennial Fodder Shrubs – Key Findings from Enrich

    Perennial Forage Shrubs – From Principles to Practice on Australian Farms

    More information about the work of Dr Revell including a free worksheet for shrub forage calculations:

    Follow up book published by Mallee CMA: Native Forage Shrubs for Low-Rainfall Areas

    Local Land Services Seasonal Updates and Newsletters from

    A list of native plants suitable for growing on small farms in the Capital Region is provided in the back section of the locally written book Look After Your Natural Assets.

    The field day was made possible with funding and support from South East Local Land Services.

  • 15 Nov 2015 10:58 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    A group of new and prospective small farm owners gathered in November 2015 for the first field day for the Small Farms Network Capital Region. The Small Farm Walk ‘n Talk was a friendly and information rich day held in Rossi on a small farm that has a mix of grazing land and native bush.

    In keeping with the challenges for this and many other small farms in our area, Matthew Lieschke (Local Land Services Livestock Officer) led a discussion about pasture management including identification of grasses and how to work out how many grazing animals are a realistic goal. Captains Flat Rural Fire Service talked about the fire risks and planning for fire (and yes there was a close inspection of their fire truck by interested parties at the end of the day). Alice McGrath (Local Land Services) talked about recognising the land capability class of your small farm, which gives you an idea of what farming activities it might be suited to. Donna Hazel (Local Land Services) led a discussion about remnant native vegetation including what types of trees, shrubs and grasslands are covered by the Native Vegetation Act.

    A clear message from the day is that if you are thinking of buying a small farm with the goal of running a particular type of farm, you should look for a property that is already suited to that type of enterprise. Steep slopes are hard to flatten, native trees often cannot be cleared, soil types are hard to change and rainfall is really not negotiable. If you already own the farm then you might need to adjust your goals to suit what you have.

    This field day, generously hosted by small farm owners Susan and Michael, was made possible through financial and organisational 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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