Stock containment and feeding areas might be needed for some time as the landscape recovers from the Cudlee Creek fires.
Fragile fire-affected land, soil and water resources will need to be managed by many landholders, with containment feeding the best option for many properties.
Regional NRM Manager Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Kim Krebs said recent rainfall was welcome but was not a trigger to bring livestock back onto fire-affected pastures.
“Stock containment areas can be used to keep stock off burnt ground, or else stock can be sold or agisted elsewhere until pastures adequately recover,” she said.
With thousands of livestock lost and more than 23,000 hectares burnt in the Cudlee Creek fires, a recent session held for landholders at the Woodside Institute covered how they could help protect their precious soil and better manage their livestock in these conditions.
Run by the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges and SA Murray-Darling Basin NRM boards, in partnership with Livestock SA and with the support of Primary Industries and Regions SA, close to 50 people heard about containment area feeding, which is not yet common on Adelaide Hills properties.
The highly engaged group of farmers, who each own up to 200 livestock, learnt how ash ingestion can cause health problems for livestock, so keeping them off burnt ground is important. They were shown how to set up and use containment areas.
A stock containment area is a carefully selected, small, fenced section of the property set up to temporarily and intensively hold, feed and water livestock. It’s often used for managing stock in dry times but is also a useful way to handle stock when paddocks have been burnt. Keeping stock off burnt ground also allows pastures and ground cover to establish properly and helps protect fragile soil from erosion.
“We know many people don’t have an unaffected paddock to contain their stock. And if that’s the only option it’s important to raise fodder off the ground using a trough or something similar,” Ms Krebs said.
Keeping stock off burnt ground also minimises the potential of ash, organic matter and soil washing into dams and waterways and causing water quality problems.
Recovery is a long-term commitment and speakers from the NRM boards, Livestock SA, Primary Industries and Regions SA and Nutrien Ag Solutions explained how they, too, are in it for the long haul.
Understanding how to monitor the condition of livestock and assess when to stop hand feeding and let the animals back on the paddocks was also discussed.
A demonstration, calculating how much supplementary feed stock might need, was given by livestock specialist Dan Schuppan. It also helped people understand what type of feed might be best, the cost and labour involved, and that supplementary feeding may need to continue into the middle of the year.
For more information, and to hear about future events, contact your local Natural Resources office (Black Hill 8336 0901 or Mount Barker 8391 7500), speak to an officer at the Natural Resources stand at the Lobethal Recovery Centre, or visit http://tiny.cc/cudlee-creek-recovery to access information on setting up confinement feeding and livestock requirements.