Grazier focus on animal health to improve productivity

Bowen and Collinsville graziers had the opportunity to meet with a local veterinarian and DAF staff to discuss the latest knowledge in animal health at a workshop held in Bowen in March.

More than 70 graziers, industry representatives and extension officers brushed up on the latest knowledge in animal health at a series of workshops held across the Burdekin region in March, co-hosted by NQ Dry Tropics and the Department of Agriculture (DAF).

Speakers included local vets, stock inspectors and animal scientists. Topics discussed included the importance of keeping accurate herd records to help identify any potential disease issues, health implications that can result from poor body condition, and how technique, timing and vaccine handling plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy herd.

NQ Dry Tropics Senior Grazing Officer Chris Poole

NQ Dry Tropics Senior Grazing Officer Chris Poole said animal health was an essential component of a profitable and sustainable grazing system.

“Animals in good health produce to their full potential and minimise veterinarian and medication costs,” Mr Poole said.

“Information shared at the workshops were aimed to keep beef producers at the forefront of best practice, and learn how to hone their husbandry practices in line with national codes of practices to deliver good outcomes in terms of animal welfare and health, biosecurity and sustainable farms businesses.

“The workshops also provided opportunities for peer to peer learning so that producers could share their knowledge and experiences.”

Grazier Jillian Matthews, of Christmas Creek, near Charters Towers, attended the Spyglass Research Station workshop and said a variety of presenters speaking on a range of topics meant there was something for everyone.

“We attended the Spyglass workshop because we have a personal history with Dr Geoffry Fordyce having participated in genetic trials led by him,” Ms Matthews said.

“To have the opportunity to converse with a knowledgeable and approachable person such as Geoffry, is a real benefit to all workshop participants. He has a wealth of information that’s advantageous to every participant in some fashion.

“They also provide people with an opportunity to have good conversations with others, and to learn from other graziers’ personal observations and experiences. If you just take away one piece of information, I consider this beneficial to your business.

The three workshops, held at Spyglass Research Station, James Cook University, Townsville, and Bowen, each hosted a wide range of speakers.

The workshops were supported by NQ Dry Tropics’ Herding Change Through Grassroots Recovery project and Landholders Driving Change project,  funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Reef Grazing Extension Services are funded through the Queensland Government Reef Water Quality Program.

Seth McIntosh, of Bowen Veterinary Clinic, Neil Cupples, NQ Dry Tropics’ Landholders Driving Change project team leader, and Bec Clapperton, DAF Beef Extension Officer, attended the Bowen Animal Health workshop.

NQ Dry Tropics’ Rodger Walker (left), Jim Rollinson, of Inkerman Station, and Jim Fletcher (right), of DAF at the Bowen workshop.

Tracey Rollinson, of Inkerman Station, and NQ Dry Tropics’ Brad Martin pictured at the Bowen Animal Health workshop.


Reef regulations - grazing, standard conditions

  1. For land in good or fair condition (more than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), continue using measures to maintain land condition.
  2. For land in poor condition (less than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition.
  3. For land in degraded condition (less than 20 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition OR prevent areas from further degrading or expanding.
  4. Keep records of measures taken and also of agricultural chemicals, fertiliser and mill mud or mill ash applied to land.
KEQ #8

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KEQ #4

The LDC project monitors four gully sites (represented in this table) with gold standard equipment and analysis, carried out by CSIRO.

Results have been compiled in a preliminary report from Bartley et al (2020), with the final report expected to be released by the end of 2020. The preliminary report shows all four sites have indicators of improvements, notably the Strathbogie and Mt Wickham sites.

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*The Exploring New Incentives activity area has provided an opportunity for graziers to adopt improved land management practices through a range of activities. For some of these properties, it was the first time they signed contracts for on-ground works.

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Figure 1. Total fine sediment reduction by project type and erosion source. Inset shows the proportion of the total project area for each project type.

These estimates have been calculated using two methods: 

1) The pollutant reduction component of the Alluvium/Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) investment tool for hillslope and streambank erosion management projects; 

2) The Reef Trust Gully Toolbox method for gully erosion management projects. The LDC Water Quality Report 2020 (Waterhouse et al., 2020) highlights that a number of assumptions underlay these calculations, therefore these figures should be treated as the best available estimate of sediment reductions to date.

Preventing sediment from reaching the Great Barrier Reef

Each wet season sediment is washed into local waterways and out to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). 

Most sediment is very fine, and can stay suspended for a long time and can travel great distances. Valuable topsoil is lost from production, and increased concentrations on the reef can be harmful to seagrasses and corals. 

Landholders in the BBB have completed 69 on-ground water quality practice changes, and it is estimated that these have contributed a fine sediment reduction of 6,154 tonnes per year from reaching the GBR. 

Of this, approximately half of the sediment savings are attributable to grazing land management changes on hillslopes and streambanks, and the other half as a result of gully remediation treatments across a broad range of scales, as shown in the graphs above. 

The table below also highlights the relatively small area of intervention in the gully management projects compared to the large sediment savings that these can achieve - 60 per cent of the sediment savings over only 4 per cent of the project area.

Table 1. Estimated sediment reductions (tonnes) from projects completed in the LDC Project to date.

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*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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