DAVID and Genevieve Counsell say new exclusion fencing technologies are helping manage both wild dogs and biosecurity risks in their Barcaldine sheep operation.
The Counsells, who operate the 15,000 hectare property Dunblane west of Barcaldine, say strategic fencing had enabled them to overcome the costly impediment to production posed by wild dogs and livestock diseases.
Dunblane runs some 15,000 Merino sheep, as well as 500 agistment cattle when seasons allow.
Mr Counsell said without exclusion fencing, the property would be unviable because of wild dogs.
“Wild dogs are a massive problem for us and unless they are fenced out, I would have to leave the sheep industry, run cattle and become a part time producer,” Mr Counsell said.
“We don’t have the scale to be a viable full time beef property.
“The sheep side of my business would not exist in five years’ time if it weren’t for these fences.
“The fences also prevent separate sheep flocks from mixing up and spreading lice as well as other diseases.”
Mr Counsell said Waratah has delivered several effective technologies to address problem areas when controlling feral animals.
“Typically, animals target the bottom section of a fence, and Waratah’s strengthening of these problems areas has been a factor in keeping out unwanted animals,” Mr Counsell said.
“The second break-through is the footer or apron attached to the bottom of the fence. This is attached via a hinge, and its sturdiness stops animals from either side burrowing underneath the fence.”
Although cost is sometimes sighted as a barrier to producers installing exclusion fences, Mr Counsell said it was an investment that reaped financial returns.
“An average price for us is $6000-$8000/km and while that is not necessarily the cheapest fence out there, we wouldn’t have been able to stay in the sheep industry without this level of quality,” he said.