Biosecurity focus for fences on Martindale - 22 September 2015

When the Johnson family bought Martindale Farm four years ago, biosecurity was high on their list of priorities, to protect the disease-free status of their sheep.
 
The 2,000 hectare mixed farming property at Mintaro, near Clare in South Australia, had plain wire fences and stock movements were largely carried out along the roads bordering the property.
 
Son-in-law Travis Cooper is helping the family replace all the boundaries with prefabricated fencing, construct laneways throughout the property, and split some of the larger paddocks into smaller ones for more efficient grazing.

“The property used to run cattle, but we’ve switched to sheep and the plain wire fencing just wasn’t up to the job of keeping them off the roads and away from the river – especially when you breed 2,500 lambs a year,” Mr Cooper said.
 
“We have MM3 status for Ovine Johne’s Disease, and are very conscious that there’s footrot in the area,  so we’re just as keen to keep other sheep out as we are to stop ours getting into the neighbour’s paddocks.
 
“Our OJD status gives us extra avenues to sell ewes and lambs into any market in Australia, which we see as a benefit for our business.”
 
The farm grows 1,000 hectares of various crops, as well as running 2,000 sheep, and while re-configuring the fence layout did lead to some loss of cropping land, Mr Cooper says it was a “no brainer” to protect the stock.
 
“We’re also moving into cell grazing, and will eventually replace our temporary electric fences with permanent internal ones, similar to the boundary fences," he said.
 
“Before we started dividing up the paddocks, we found the sheep would spread out and heavily eat the grasses they liked and leave the rest, so the pastures ended up patchy.
 
“Keeping them to smaller areas and forcing them to eat the pasture more evenly, as well as being able to rest areas after they’ve been grazed, the paddocks look healthier.
 
“All that fencing will be expensive, but we’ve already noticed the lambs are growing out more quickly, so it will pay for itself over time."
 
The boundary fences and laneways have been constructed using a combination of Waratah’s Jio® and Galstar® MaxY® posts with Adjusta-stay® end assemblies, Stocklock® 7-90-30 prefabricated fence wire and a Tyeasy® top wire.
 
Mr Cooper says using the Waratah system saved the fencing contractor a lot of time, and he’s confident it will last far longer than imported products.
 
“A traditional end assembly takes half a day to construct, by the time you build the box, whereas using the Adjusta-stay system meant ours took about ten minutes.”