Wild dog prevention better than cure - 14 April 2016

The old adage that prevention is better than cure is the thinking behind one South West Queensland family’s move to protect their livestock operation from the threat of wild dogs.
 
With wild dogs making their presence felt on neighbouring properties in the Balonne region, St George cattle and sheep producers Arthur and Glenda Gaunt and their son Peter, have taken a preventative approach to the looming problem.
 
At their property Chippeway, between St George and Bollon, the Gaunts run 800 head of EU-accredited Santa Gertrudis and Black Angus cattle and 4000 sheep, predominantly Merinos, for both wool and meat production.
 
Peter Gaunt said while wild dogs haven’t had a significant impact on their livestock yet, they decided to construct a predator fence in a bid to not only deter the wild dogs, but also ease grazing pressure from kangaroos as ongoing drought continues in the region.
 
“Other neighbouring properties have had trouble with dogs in recent years, but we’re lucky we haven’t been hit by them yet,” Mr Gaunt said.
 
“A dog trapper was keeping in contact with us and letting us know when he got a dog nearby. The number of dogs is definitely increasing each year.
 
“We are virtually surrounded by dogs and they seem to be moving south.
 
“We needed to replace our front boundary fence and decided instead of constructing a seven-wire fence, to replace it with this new predator fence.
 
“We put all the other little projects on the property on hold to feed our money into buying the fence material and having a contractor erect the fence.
 
“Eventually, we would like to do the whole place with this type of fencing.
 
“We also think if any of the neighbouring properties decide to put up similar predator fencing, it could help form a cluster fence in the future.”
 
The Gaunts have recently completed construction of the predator fence along close to nine kilometres of their boundary with the Balonne Highway.
 
The Waratah fence is about 175 centimetres high, and features 5 metre spacings between the posts.
 
The Gaunts used 15/150/15 Stocksafe-T® Longlife® with apron to prevent the incursion of feral animals, topped with a 1.8mm Longlife high tensile barbed wire.
 
A 300mm hinged apron at the bottom of the fence further prevents feral animals from burrowing underneath. 
 
“People ask us what we’re trying to keep in with a fence like this, but it’s all about keeping things out,” Mr Gaunt said.
 
“The main purpose is to keep wild dogs out but also make total grazing pressure a bit lighter.
 
“With a single fence, we’re not there yet, but I think it’s definitely got to start to help.

“Until we do a whole enclosed area, we’re probably not going to see much difference in total grazing pressure.
 
“But having said that there’s a lot of kangaroo activity on the outside of the fence where you can see they’ve tried to get in.”