The installation of an exclusion fence on an Upper Hunter grazing property has transformed the now protected paddocks by enabling pastures and crops to thrive.
Before the Clipex fence was built 400 deer were removed in just one week from 184 hectares.
Today the same paddock is deer and kangaroo free and as a bonus no feral pigs have been sighted since the fence was built.
For a few dollars extra a metre the fence has been described by the property’s manager Tom Hunt and as a game changer when it comes to controlling animal pests on the 5,300ha ‘Inverary’ at Kar Springs near Scone.
“We have tried to add extra wires to conventional fences to get the pests out but the deer and kangaroo simply jump over the top – not this fence it has kept them out completely and kept out cattle in and best of all the pastures and crops aren’t taking a hammering when we rest the paddocks,” he said.
Tom said the Clipex system (netting 1.5m height) with posts and the two top barbs cost $6/m for materials where a conventional six wire fence cost $4.80m for materials.
“We reckon given that price difference you would always opt for the exclusion system where you have animals you want to keep out and that includes wild dogs – the apron at the base works a treat for that problem,” he said.
With the aid of his neighbour, fencing contractor Will Pike, they have installed 4 kiliometres of the fence in pretty quick time especially once they got used to the system.
They built a special wire spinner to handle the netting as each roll weighed 240kg and they also made another spinner for the apron netting which enabled them to unroll at the same time.
With three people we were completing 300m/day, Tom said. He considered the exclusion system required less labour than building a conventional fence.
‘Inverary’ currently runs 1300 Angus breeders with the aim, through both pasture improvement and removal of animal pests to increase that number to around 2000.
Using AI based on Hazeldean bloodlines, with the aim to improve meat eating qualities, the herd is calved in spring and autumn for ease of management. While they are in the herd building stage the majority of heifers are kept with steers turned off at early feedlot entry weights through AuctionPlus.
Rotational grazing is used on the property to improve animal health and overall productivity.
And it was the fact paddocks were being regularly destocked for rotational grazing that the deer, which are a real headache for graziers in the foothills of the Liverpool Ranges, became so problematic.
Even a full-time shooter working on ‘Inverary’, supplying deer and kangaroos for human and pet consumption, could not keep up with controlling the animals.
“On average we have 120 deer and kangaroos being processed from his property each week – its a huge problem not only for us but all landholders finding a way to keep them out and the same goes for pigs and dogs,” said Tom.
Given the success with the first exclusion fence Tom is hoping his neighbours will be keen to investigate the new system when it comes time to replace boundary fences.
Before installing the first fence he looked at a various styles of exclusion systems but opted for Clipex preferring the options available in their design. Waratah also offer an exclusion fence system.
“I know people aren’t sure about using exclusion fences but they have certainly worked here since they went up 10 months ago and they have worked fine with our cattle,” he said.
He considers the fences would be ideal for wool growers trying to control dogs. He grew up in the Murrurundi district where his family run sheep and to this day continue to do battle with wild dogs.
“Dogs aren’t a problem for us but they certainly are for our neighbours who run sheep and this fence could make their sheep management so much easier and more productive,” he said.
“Its one of those great innovations for farmers and if you want to stay profitable in agriculture you have to take up these new ideas like we use rotational grazing to maximise our pastures.”
Tom said deer especially in full antlers cause a massive amount of damage to conventional fences.
He is not a fan of ‘unprofessional’ shooters in particular bow hunters who trespass on the property chasing deer.
“They are another unwanted headache,” he said.