Sargood takes offence to dogs

05 Mar, 2015 01:00 AM
David Sargood, North Yarrawonga, admires his handiwork.
The difference the fence has made to our operation has been massive
David Sargood, North Yarrawonga, admires his handiwork.

IT took David Sargood and a team of six backpackers just 36 working days to build the fence that would ultimately change the way he does business.

Despite drought raging around him in August of 2013, David was resolute in his determination to get the fence up and keep the pests out. Fortunately, the pain (at roughly $7000/km) and expense have proved worthwhile.

"It's the best thing we ever did," he said.

"It took us 36 working days to get 40km up.

"I was just determined to get it done, regardless of what was going on around me."

Eighteen months later, David and his wife Rebecca are still becoming accustomed to the freedoms that the 180cm-high exclusion fence has provided in their management of their 14,175-hectare property North Yarrawonga, 40km north-east of Charleville.

David Sargood, North Yarrawonga, Charleville, is in the process of transitioning to a certified organic herd.

The ability to rest country and conserve feed has enabled the couple to begin the process of transitioning from a conventional breeding and backgrounding operation to a potentially more lucrative certified organic beef business. The Sargoods have been discussing the move for years, but David said the fence had been the catalyst for change.

"The difference the fence has made to our operation has been massive. We have never been able to spell country here before, but this year we calved out our maiden heifers in September into a fresh paddock.

"That was a really special moment. Usually by September, the paddocks would have been eaten out completely.

"Our neighbours had erected a pest-management fence a few years before us so we got to see first hand the advantages before we decided to make the investment ourselves."

The 180cm high exclusion fence is helping David and Rebecca Sargood conserve the improved pasture supplies they have worked so hard to create on North Yarrawonga.

North Yarrawonga was a virgin block with very little development when the Sargoods purchased it in 1997. After the break-up of the Sargood family partnership in 2013, David and Rebecca took ownership of North Yarrawonga and continued to pursue a highly successful pasture and infrastructure-development program.

Today, almost 80 per cent of North Yarrawonga has been pulled, burnt and seeded to buffel grass, while 6000ha has been blade ploughed and planted to improved pastures.

Good rain earlier in the summer has provided a handy body of feed that is now drying off fast, but David has no fears about how his rotational grazing system will carry his stock through the winter.

"I know how much feed I have in front of me, and at least now I can control my grazing management because of the fence."

A major priority at present is ridding North Yarrawonga of wild dogs now trapped inside the new fence.

Trappers have caught 104 dogs inside the fence since August 2013, including 45 in one year alone.

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Penelope Arthur

Penelope Arthur

is a journalist for Queensland Country Life at Roma


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