Hey ewe, please fence me in for better management

Retain those containment areas say leading sheep consultants

Sheep
CONTAINMENT POLICY: Riverina sheep classer and consultant, Craig Wilson, says containment areas should have a permanent role on sheep properties.

CONTAINMENT POLICY: Riverina sheep classer and consultant, Craig Wilson, says containment areas should have a permanent role on sheep properties.

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A leading sheep classer and consultant says containment areas should have a permanent role in the management of sheep farms.

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Containment areas should be "compulsory" on every sheep grazing property says leading Riverina sheep consultant and classer, Craig Wilson.

Mr Wilson said experiences with containment feeding during the current drought should have educated producers on their value as a permanent management tool.

The use of containment areas - fenced off small areas with access to water - is generally seen as a temporary feeding measure to handle emergencies such as droughts and bushfires.

But Mr Wilson said containment areas should be a "prerequisite" on sheep farms because they allowed producers to take control of pastures, ground cover, seed retention and topsoil management.

This would be especially important when it rained because pastures would need time to recover and become properly established prior to grazing.

Mr Wilson, who operates Craig Wilson and Associates at Wagga Wagga, said the widespread use of containment areas during the current drought had underlined their efficiency for feeding stock.

It was "ridiculous people drove around their farm all day" feeding sheep in paddocks, he said.

However, the value of containment areas as an option for joining ewes had also been highlighted.

"I think it's (joining in confinement areas) actually quite a good idea because you get a lot (more) of ram-to-ewe contact and there is no reason why you wouldn't expect a good result," Mr Wilson said.

"It's probably better (than paddock joining). Rams are not having to travel to feed, once they get used to being where they are, it really works well."

Anthony Shepherd, Sheep Matters, Cootamundra, agreed, saying he had clients not in drought who were using containment areas for joining.

They were "backgrounding" their ewes to get them into the right condition for joining and were getting more lambs.

Without realising it they were also saving their paddocks, he said.

Mr Shepherd said one of the big challenges for producers who jagged some storms this summer was resisting the temptation to move sheep onto paddocks as soon as they saw a green tinge.

Their sheep would most likely lose condition because the new pasture would be largely made up of water.

"They should be letting that feed harden up and get some ground cover," he said.

The story Hey ewe, please fence me in for better management first appeared on Farm Online.

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