VIDEO: WHEN grazier Ben Banks and his father Jack realised they were losing up to 50 per cent of lambs in some paddocks due to wild dogs, they decided it was time to do something different or risk losing their Merino sheep operation.
They’d tried trapping and shooting dogs themselves, and brought in professional trappers, but couldn’t stem the flow of dogs – or lamb losses – on "Springleigh", near Blackall in western Queensland.
So they are erecting an exclusion fence, with the first 20 kilometres now up and providing immediate benefits.
“We’ve completed the western boundary fence, and the ‘grand plan’ is to fence around the entire 40,000 hectares,” Ben Banks said.
“We’ve already seen a difference in behaviour, especially in one paddock that’s around 6000ha.
“In previous years, the sheep had stayed huddled in the south-east corner, which we always put down to the prevailing wind.
“Within a week of the fence being completed, they’d spread through the paddock, and I’m sure that’s because we’ve blocked off a few of the dogs."
The Banks family put off the investment for a long time because of the cost, but could not find an alternative solution that was cheaper or better than the exclusion fence.
The best advice Mr Banks can offer in controlling dogs is to address it early rather than waiting.
“If you’re only just getting the odd dog, do something now. We talked and talked like a lot of graziers do when we were just getting the odd bitten sheep, and we’ve probably left our run a couple of years too late," Mr Banks said.
“Put something up while you’re still marking 80 to 90 per cent of lambs, instead of waiting until you’re marking 10 to 20 per cent.”
The Banks family were very conscious of the cost, and ran the "per hectare" figures past their accountant.
The response was they "were crazy not to” if it could give them a 10pc increase in production, which will mainly come from improved lambing.
They’re also confident the fence will ease the grazing pressure from kangaroos, which are overpopulated in the area and causing a lot of damage.