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RESOURCES FOR SMALL FARMERS

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  • 23 Sep 2022 2:05 PM | Alex James (Administrator)

    This event was a combined webinar and paddock walk in early September 2022 with Jo Powells and Fiona Leech, Agricultural Advisors from South-East Local Land Services.

    The topics discussed in the webinar include:

    • How native pastures respond to fertilisers and lime, and how fertiliser inputs impact species composition
    • Common native grasses and how to manipulate species composition through grazing management and fertiliser
    • The common myths about native pasture such as ‘fertilisers kill native pasture’ and ‘fertiliser reduces native plant biodiversity’.

    You can watch the webinar here.

    The paddock walk was an opportunity for landholders to practice their plant identification skills and look at the grazing values of some of the main pasture species in the Yass area.  


    These are the main points from the event:

    1. Native grasses can be divided into groups depending on their main growing season and the way in which they capture and use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. The main groups are temperate (Poa and Austrostipa species), tropical (Kangaroo grass) and year long green perennial grasses (Microlaena and Wallaby Grasses). Year long green grasses respond well to rain in all seasons and have higher feed values than temperate grasses.
    2. Learn what pasture plants you’ve got and consider doing a grazing management course such as Prograze. Modified and highly modified pasture can be manipulated using grazing and fertiliser to increase dry matter production and animal productivity. Seek advice from South East Local Land Services through workshops and reading grazing research trials for your area.
    3. Some native grassland ecosystems are protected under threatened species legislation and these high conservation grasslands should be managed for diversity through modified grazing plans and management. If you need advice contact South East Local Land Services or the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust.
    4. Research has shown that most native grasses respond well to fertiliser and lime application, some species such as Microlaena, have a high requirement for phosphorus, similar to the level required for Phalaris.
    5. Legumes are beneficial in native pastures and many introduced species have become naturalised over time, clovers will respond well to fertiliser and lime application. 
    6. Learn to use a land lens and look at the different parts of grasses and forbs, you can buy cheap hand lenses at JayCar.

    Jo Powells and Fiona Leech with landholder Christine 

    Resources

    Managing native pastures NSWDPI

    Native pasture management and delayed grazing

    How you can help protect native grasslands

    Pasture legumes and their benefit

    Laggan grazing demonstration (South-East Local Land Services)

    Alternative grazing demonstration (South East Local Land Services)

    Grasses of the NSW Tablelands

    Threatened ecological communities ACT/NSW

    Pasture recovery after bushfire

    Prograze course

    South-East Local Land Services – Contact us

    Grassed up - Guidelines for revegetating with Australian Natives

    This event was made possible with funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program and in-kind support from South East Local Land Services. 


  • 19 Sep 2022 3:11 PM | Alex James (Administrator)

    On Saturday 10 September 2022 twenty-six landholders participated in the Woodland Bird and Habitat Workshop held at Mulloon, just outside of Bungendore. Richard Beggs (ANU Sustainable Farms), Tobi Edmunds (NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust) and Jed Pearson (Molonglo Catchment Group) joined us to talk about native birds and their habitat requirements. The aim of the workshop was to highlight the importance of retaining and creating habitat for woodland birds.


    Jed, Richard and Tobi - presenting at the workshop

    Small woodland birds are amongst the most threatened groups of birds in South-Eastern New South Wales. This is due to habitat loss from development, agriculture, lack of food resources and competition for habitat from birds like noisy minors.

    These are the key points from the workshop:

    1. Woodland birds like structural diversity in their habitat, including grasses and forbs, open patches for foraging, mid story shrubs and some trees. Spikey bushes, dead trees and fallen wood provide great nesting sites and habitat.
    2. Dams act as ‘insect chimneys’ and increase food resources for birds and other animals. Fencing farm dams can provide dual benefits by improving habitat values and providing better water quality for livestock. Fencing and revegetation improve water quality by reducing faecal contamination and supporting the physical and chemical filtering of inflows. Better quality water is more palatable to livestock so may encourage greater water consumption and allow greater feed consumption. Remarkably little research has been done on the relationship between water quality and weight gain, however. Properly managed farm dams can provide phytoremediation (water cleaning services) by aquatic plants and animals.
    3. Livestock preferentially graze some species of plants in native pasture. The Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) uses a floristic value score to rate the value of grasslands and woodlands. Some species that are preferentially grazed include glycine, bulbine lily and other legume species.
    4. There are a number of bird and plant identification apps available including -

    For birds - Pizzey & Knight Birds of Australia and Canberra Nature Map

    For plants – Picture This and Plants of South- Eastern Australia

    5. Landholders with an in-perpetuity agreement with the BCT are eligible for rate relief on the part of the property being conserved under an agreement. 


    Richard identified twenty-one bird species and Jed three species of frogs, including:

    1. Australian magpie
    2. Australian raven (& nest)
    3. Grey currawong
    4. Black-faced cuckoo shrike
    5. Laughing kookaburra
    6. Crimson rosella
    7. Little corella
    8. Yellow-tailed black cockatoo
    9. Australian wood duck
    10. Pacific black duck
    11. Grey shrike-thrush
    12. Golden whistler
    13. White-throated treecreeper
    14. Yellow-rumped thornbill (& nest)
    15. Brown thornbill
    16. Striated pardalote
    17. Grey fantail
    18. Silvereye
    19. Red wattlebird
    20. Yellow-faced honeyeater
    21. Superb fairy wren

    The frogs were the Common Eastern Froglet (Crinia signifera), the Spotted Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis) and Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet (Crinia parinsignifera).

    Further information

    Biodiversity Conservation Trust 

    Phytoremediation 

    Friends of Grasslands Floristic Score

    ANU Sustainable Farms farm dams

    Save our Scarlet Robin – Saving our Species resources and guides

    Landcare NSW Find a Landcare Group 

    This activity is part of the Partnering in Private Land Conservation. A joint initiative delivered by Landcare NSW and the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust. Thanks to ANU Sustainable Farms, the Molonglo Catchment Group and the Biodiversity Conservation Trust for in-kind support of this workshop. 

  • 29 Jun 2022 11:41 AM | Alex James (Administrator)

    This is a summary of a webinar and paddock walk held in June 2022.

    The webinar was recorded on Thursday 17 June 2022. During the webinar we discussed managing blackberries in creeks and gullies with Lori Gould from the Australian River Restoration Centre and small farmer Christine Aughey.

    The topics discussed in the webinar include blackberry control options, managing a weed control project and where to start, preventing erosion after the weeds are removed, fencing and revegetation.

    Watch the webinar 


    After the webinar a group of farmers visited a small farm just outside of Yass for a paddock walk to discuss blackberry management. These are the take away messages from the event.

    1.      The focus of weed management has shifted from eradication to asset protection and containment. Some weeds like blackberry are known as transformer weeds. Transformer weeds have a high impact on native plant communities and degraded landscapes by transforming ecosystem processes and functioning. Transformer weeds use their competitive advantage to develop monocultures by modifying the soil and conditions to their preferred niche. They are also able to recruit seedlings easily, often using a number of different methods. Through these processes transformer weeds change the surrounding environment to favour their spread. Blackberry plants for example are able to spread using seed, seedlings from their roots (that can extend for 4 meters from the plant) and by growing from the tips of branches when they touch the ground.

    2.      Weeds like blackberry are opportunistic and will colonise bare soil and eroded slopes. Lori recommends keeping ground cover above 80% so there is no space for weeds to germinate. Some weeds are considered pioneer plants, modifying the soil and habitat conditions so other plants can establish once they have completed their lifecycle. Some examples may include cape weed and Patterson’s Curse.

    3.      The native raspberry Rubus parvifolius, looks similar to the introduced blackberry Rubus fruticosus. Native raspberry has a different leaf shape to blackberry and is red on the outer leaf margin, the veins are also more pronounced. Blackberry has nine different species in NSW.

    4.      Wetting agents used with herbicides are not approved for use along waterways, Glyphosate is the only approved herbicide for blackberry control in waterways. You can apply for an off-label permit for other herbicides through the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).  Lori recommends that you only spray actively growing plants, just before or while they are fruiting. Care must be taken when spraying in waterways, if you are unsure of how to do it seek professional advice. In some cases the paint and brush method may be a more targeted approach.

    5.      Lori suggests you aim to control 30% of the weed infestation/year. By using a staged approach you can replant the affected areas and leave some habitat for woodland birds until you can get the infestation under control.

    Resources

    Rivers of Carbon Blackberry Guide

    Mt Lofty Rangers video - on how to differentiate blackberry and native raspberry

    Maintaining ground cover for water infiltration - Local Land Services 

    Goat webinar (includes information on how to use goats to control weeds)

    Herds for Hire

    NSW DPI Weed Wise

    Victorian blackberry control taskforce

    Plant NET native raspberry

    Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority

    This event was sponsored by the Australian Government with funding from the National Landcare Program. 

  • 26 May 2022 12:51 PM | Alex James (Administrator)

    This webinar was recorded on Thursday 12 May 2022 with presenters Dr Sandra Baxendell from Goat Veterinary Consultancies-Goat Vet Oz and Elisabeth Larsen from Herds for Hire. Dr Sandra Baxendell is a specialist goat veterinarian based in Queensland, she has decades of experience advising farmers and industry about goat health, management and nutrition. Elisabeth Larsen is a goat husbandry entrepreneur who is using a herd of goats to manage problem weed infestations in South Eastern NSW.  

    In this webinar Sandra discussed goat enterprises for small farms, common equipment used for goat management, worm management and common health conditions affecting goats. Elisabeth talked about her experience managing goats for weed control.

    A copy of the webinar recording can be found on the Small Farms Network Capital Region YouTube Channel, click here.

    Below is a summary of the webinar and a list of resources relating to goat management.

    1.  Managing goats and intestinal worms requires planning and thought. Goats have lower worm resistance than sheep and cattle. Quarantine your goats when they arrive, a quarantine drench is important to help prevent bringing worms onto your farm. Goat drenches are ‘off label’, you need to get a prescription and the correct dose from your vet, some vets can dispense drenches in smaller quantities.  WormBoss is an online platform to help producers make decisions about drenching goats, the website has information on faecal egg counting, rotational grazing, strategic drenching and managing worm resistance in goats.
    2. There are organic treatments for worms in goats including copper sulphate, copper oxide wire particles and Bioworma. Grazing on forage high in tannins (such as chicory) can help reduce worm burdens in goats.
    3. When buying goats ask the seller for an Animal Health Declaration that includes Johne's disease, footrot, and Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis. Goats should be vaccinated for clostridial diseases, goats with no vaccination history and kids need two doses four weeks apart and then a booster every six months. The type of vaccination used will depend on the diseases in your area so seek specialist advice for your situation.
    4. Castration should be performed as early as management practices allow and before two months of age, bucks and kids are fertile at three months of age.
    5. Goats can be successfully trained to eat woody weeds. If the weeds are too high for the goats to reach try laying them down using a heavy branch or board so they can get access to eat them.

    Resources 

    WormBoss Website 

    Drenches for goats - using them correctly and legally 

    Drench decision guide for sheep and goats 

    Drenches for goats: alternatives to registered commercial drench products 

    NSW DPI 

    Managing worms in organic goat production systems

    Goat AgSkills

    Goat health and vaccinations 

    Other

    Goat Handling Standards - Animal Health Australia

    Australian welfare standards for Goats

    The palatability and potential toxicity of Australian weeds to goats - Agrifutures

    Goats at the Australian National Botanic Gardens 

    NSW DPI Weed Wise

    This event was made possible with funding from the National Landcare Program and in-kind support from Elisabeth Larsen, Herds for Hire.

  • 12 May 2022 6:47 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)
    On a cold, windy day in early May 2022, participants gathered near Murrumbateman to learn about lamb marking with veterinarians Peter and Penny Dagg and sheep owners Jennie Curtis and Ashleigh Wildridge.

    Some key points from the workshop:

    Why mark?

    Marking is a set of procedures designed to improve lamb health, manage breeding and identify sheep. Marking is typically done when lambs are around 4-6 weeks of age. Typical procedures are ear tagging, castrating ram lambs that are not needed for breeding, tail docking and vaccinations.

    Catching lambs

    • Lambs and ewes can be drafted in a race to temporarily separate the lambs from the ewes so that they can be marked. Low stress handling is important since ewes can crush small lambs in a mixed mob in the yards.
    • Individual lambs can either be restrained on their back in a cradle or held by another person during lamb marking.

    Pain relief

    There are two types of pain to consider for lamb marking: immediate (fast) pain and chronic (slow) pain.

    • Local anaesthetics make the lamb more comfortable while the procedure occurs and for up to an hour afterwards (immediate pain). Farmers have two options: NumOcaine which is used when applying rings using the Numnuts system and Tri-Solfen which only works when there is an open wound. Tri-Solfen does not provide pain relief for sites where rubber rings are applied since the skin is not cut so will not be useful for most small farmers. NumOcaine is currently available on prescription from vets, Tri-Solfen can be bought from rural suppliers.
    • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs reduce inflammation, pain and fever but do not deal well with immediate pain. These take 15-30 minutes to take effect and last 9 hours or longer. Nurofen is an example used in humans. Options for sheep are injectable Metacam and Buccalgesic, which is a gel placed between the check and the gum. These are available on prescription from vets.

    While traditionally lamb marking was done with no pain relief, the gold standard approach to lamb marking is to provide both immediate and chronic pain relief.

    Ear tagging

    Ear tags may be applied to lambs at marking. Where there is a need to know parentage of lambs (eg. in a sheep stud), ear tags may be applied within a day or two of birth.

    Sheep need an ear tag with the Property Identification Code (PIC) for the property where they are born before they leave the property. In NSW, tags can be visual tags (all the information is printed on the tag) or EID tags (all the information is printed on the tag plus the tag can be scanned with a digital scanner).

    There is a convention that each year there will be a different colour used for lamb ear tags. It is easy to search for the table of sheep ear tag colours online. The colour for 2022 is red. If a sheep born on another property loses its ear tag while on your property, your only option is to replace it with a pink post breeder tag showing your PIC.

    Another convention is to put the tag in the right ear of ewes and left ear of rams/wethers. This is helpful as a visual aid when you are sorting a flock of sheep by sex.

    Additional information that may be included on ear tags:

    • V to indicate sheep has been vaccinated with Gudair
    • Individual sheep number – this can be any format that you choose. One example, for tags for lambs born in 2022 would be to use numbers 2200001, 2200002 etc.

    There are many brands of ear tags. Each brand has their own applicator so be sure to match the applicator with the tags you are using. Tags can be bought online or ordered through rural stores. The smallest order size we have found is 10 tags.

    Vaccination

    Best practice:

    • Vaccinate ewes with 6in1 (or 5in1) vaccine against clostridial diseases 4-6 weeks before lambing. The ewes will pass the antibodies to the lambs in the colostrum. This gives the lambs the some protection in the first four weeks after birth.
    • Vaccinate lambs with 6in1 (or 5in1) vaccine at 4-6 weeks of age at lamb marking. This is the primer dose.
    • Vaccinate lambs with Gudair at lamb marking or up to 16 weeks of age. This is a lifetime vaccination. The vaccine is dangerous if accidentally injected into humans. Lambs that will be slaughtered in first two years do not need Gudair vaccination.
    • Give lambs a booster dose of 6in1 (or 5in1) vaccine 4-6 weeks after lamb marking (often done at weaning). This booster dose is essential for continuing immunity through the first year.
    • Vaccinate all sheep with 6in1 (or 5in1) annually.

    Tail docking

    Lamb tails are docked to reduce risk of fly strike caused by dags collecting on long tails. This may be more of a problem for woolly sheep so there is a trend developing to not dock tails of shedding hair sheep.

    The current best practice recommendation is to dock the tail at the third palpable joint from the base of the tail. This provides more sun protection for bare skin around the tail and is thought to reduce occurrence of anal and vaginal prolapse.

    The most accessible option for small farmers is ring docking where a rubber ring is applied to the tail and the tail falls off 2-4 weeks later.

    Castration

    Castration is the process of removing a ram lamb’s testicles where the lamb will not be used for breeding. This can be done surgically or by applying a rubber ring. Care needs to be taken to get both testicles in the scrotum before applying the ring.

    Record keeping

    Where sheep will be sold off property, records need to be kept for all medications given. These should include date, which sheep received treatment, name of drug or chemical, dose, batch number and expiry date. These records can be on paper or digital. Various templates are available online.

    Other records often made at lamb marking are weight, assessment of lamb structure and adherence to breed standards.

    Post marking and weaning

    After marking, lambs need to find their mothers (called mothering up). Some breeds are better at this than others. Look for any lambs and ewes that are ‘yelling’ after marking. Quite likely they have lost each other.

    Lambs are typically weaned at about 12 weeks of age. This gives the ewes time to recover before joining. Weaning can be very noisy with lambs and ewes calling to each other. Don’t do it near the house! The weaning process will be much slower if the lambs and ewes share a fenceline.

    Lambs are more susceptible to worms immediately after weaning. It is helpful to give them a drench and move them onto clean pasture to set them up well to keep growing. This is when they should also get their booster vaccination (6in1 or 5in1). Weaned lambs need the best pasture possible.

    Resources

    This workshop was organised by the Small Farms Network Capital Region committee. Our thanks go to veterinarians Peter and Penny Dagg for sharing their expertise and Ashleigh Wildridge for presenting information.

  • 12 Apr 2022 10:13 AM | Alex James (Administrator)

    This is a summary of the key points from the webinar and paddock walk on plant identification with Jo Powells, Geoff Robertson and Margaret Ning in March 2022.

    You can watch the webinar by clicking on this link

    The key messages from this paddock walk are summarised below, and links to further information on each topic can be found at the bottom the page;

    • Grasses are usually categorised by the shape of their seed head.
    • Different parts of grasses are used to identify species these include nodes, auricles, leaf shape and ligules. The presence and absence of hairs on the leaf, nodes, stem and other parts of the grass can also help identify different species.
    • Perennial grasses are classified as C3 or C4 grasses, this refers to the way in which the grasses capture carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. They are adapted to different environments, with C3 grasses found in temperate areas, while C4 grasses come from tropical climates.
    • Cocksfoot grass has branched, open panicles and is folded like a book at the base of the leaf, phalaris has a round stem with cylindrical seed head.
    • Grass weeds such as Serrated Tussock, Chilean Needle Grass and African Love Grass can be a big problem for property owners. African love grass has a seed panicle that looks like a Christmas tree, Chilean Needle Grass has distinct ribbed, hairy leaves and a corona at the base of the seed awn. Serrated tussock is largely indigestible and can cause animals to die of malnutrition. Find out more about these weeds in the NSW DPI Weed Wise App.
    • Not sure what you’ve got at your place? Contact South East Local Land Services, local council weeds officer or try logging your sighting on the Canberra Nature Map website or app for identification.

    Chilean Needle Grass Seed Head – Photo NSW DPI

    Jo Powells is a Senior Agricultural Adviser - Pastures from South East Local Land Services based in Cooma.

    Contact your nearest South East Local Land Services Office.

    Resources

    Friends of Grasslands (FOG) – Parts of Grasses 

    Department of Primary industry and Fisheries – C3 and C4 Grasses

    Ag Guide Pastures in Farming Systems

    Grasses of the NSW Tablelands

    Canberra Nature Map

    NSW DPI pasture plant species and varieties

    Grass Identification

    This event was made possible with funding from the Australian Government thorough the National Landcare Program and in-kind support from South East Local Land Services.

  • 26 Oct 2021 5:37 PM | Alex James (Administrator)

    In this webinar we explored the topic of trees and climate change with Cameron Pensini the Sustainability Project Officer from the Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council and Dr David Freudenberger from the Australian National University.

    The webinar was recorded on 13 October 2021, you can view the recording here.

    These are the main points from the webinar:

    • Surface heat mapping done by the Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) shows that urban areas like Queanbeyan, Googong, Braidwood and Bungendore are significantly hotter than natural areas such as Tallaganda National Park. These towns are urban heat islands and are two degrees warmer than the surrounding landscape. The council is developing an urban cooling strategy to combat the problem of heat islands and has studied tree species that might be suitable for establishing urban forests. The QPRC has developed a list of 130 suitable trees for the future urban cooling project and has established a trial site for urban trees in Bungendore.
    • The rational for selecting trees species for climate change in urban areas can be applied to a rural setting. For more information click on the Yass Area Network and Macquarie University Guide below.
    • Dead grass has the same surface temperature as bitumen, which can be up to four degrees hotter than forest areas.
    • Due to human impacts our land is now a ‘novel landscape’ that is vastly different to what it was prior to human habitation. Novel landscapes or ecosystems occur when a new combination of species appear due to human activity, environmental change or the impact of introduced species (Lyndenmayer et al 2008).
    • ‘Ecosystem services’ are the benefits provided to humans through the transformation of natural resources (land, water, vegetation and atmosphere) into goods and services essential to life and wellbeing. These ‘goods and services’ include clean air, water, climate regulation, soil building, habitat, fertility and food. Trees provide provisioning, regulating, processing and cultural services to human beings. These free services are essential to human life but are often difficult to attribute a monetary value to.
    • Every bit counts when it comes to vegetation and planting trees. Even a small patch of high-quality vegetation can help provide rich diversity on farms. For further information see Greening Australia and the Australian National University, Sustainable Farms Project links below.  

    Further information

    Macquarie University Climate Ready Revegetation Guide

    Keeping it Cool – Vegetation and Heat Adaptation Strategy - Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council

    Yass Area Network Climate Ready Project

    Fodder trees and shrubs workshop

    Revegetation for small farms

    Key Concepts of Ecosystem Services

    Lyndenmayer, D.B. et al (2008), Novel ecosystems resulting from landscape transformation create dilemmas for modern conservation practice, Conbio Online Library 26/11/2021 https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdfdirect/10.1111/j.1755-263X.2008.00021.x

    ANU Sustainable Farms Research

    The Crossing Courses and Workshops

    Greening Australia Connecting and Protecting Landscapes

    This event is funded by the NSW Government through an Increasing Resilience to Climate Change (IRCC) Community Grant. 

  • 20 Oct 2021 1:02 PM | Alex James (Administrator)

    This is a summary of a webinar recorded on the 7 October 2021 with Jason McWhirter the District Officer, Lake George Zone - NSW Rural Fire Service. In this webinar Jason shared his expertise in planning for and managing bushfire.

    You can watch the webinar recording by following this link

    These are the key points from the webinar:

    • Each region in NSW has a Bushfire Risk Management Plan. In the Bungendore region it is called the Lake George Bushfire Risk Management Plan (BFRMP). These plans are developed by a committee of local residents, agencies and the NSW Rural Fire Service. The BFRMP is a strategic document for each region that identifies community assets and sets out a five-year multi agency response to reduce the risk of bushfire impacting these assets. Community assets include human settlements, economic infrastructure, environmental and cultural assets. Once the asset assessment is completed treatments are prescribed to reduce the risk of bushfire. The treatments can include hazard reduction burning, grazing, community education, fire trail maintenance and establishing local Rural Fire Service (RFS) groups. 
    • The NSW Fire Service can assist land managers with the construction and management of Asset Protection Zones through the Hazard Reduction Certificate process, this includes approval for vegetation management, hazard reduction burning and clearing. Hazard management is done to reduce fuel loads that influence the rate and intensity of fire.
    • Every landholder should develop and Asset Protection Zones around their house in bushfire prone areas. The Asset Protection Zone allows you to manage vegetation to reduce the risk of bushfire impacting a house. Measures can include mowing, establishing lawn, clearing trees and shrubs away from the house and using non- flammable mulches. Jason explained the 10/50-meter rule that applies to private home owners in bushfire prone areas. The scheme allows people living in designated areas to clear trees within 10 meters of their home and clear underlying vegetation within 50 meters of their home without approval. More detailed information about this rule can be found in the link below.
    • Local RFS Community Engagement Officers can help you develop a vegetation management plan, offer advice on equipment and applying for a hazard reduction certificate. You can book a site visit with your local RFS Brigade or contact your local Fire Control Centre.
    • It’s a good idea to discuss your fire plan with your neighbours.
    • Embers can travel tens of kilometres ahead of the fire front and can stay alight for several days after the fire.
    • A Fire Permit is required from the 1st October -31st May and can be obtained from the NSW Rural Fire Service. Hazard Reduction Certificates are only required for native vegetation.
    • HOW FIRE PROOF IS YOUR PLAN? Bushfire Survival Plans are essential for every landholder. Jason’s advice is to think about what your trigger points are for action. This could include leaving early on catastrophic fire days or leaving when the fire gets within a certain radius. Jason said that it is a good idea to give everyone in the household a job (including young children). Include in your plan how you will manage livestock and think about access to feed and water for 3-7 days post fire.
    • Equipment and access – when property planning make sure you think about the size of your gate and driveway. Will a fire truck FIT? Plan 20,000 L water storage for bushfire fighting, a diesel pump, 38 mm firefighting canvas hose with STORZ fittings, a bucket and mop for putting out embers, P2 mask, cotton clothing, boots and hat. 
    More information on getting ready for bushfire season can be found in the links below.

    More information and links

    Bushfire Risk Management Plans - NSW Fire Service

    10/50 meter rule

    Hazard Reduction Certificate and Standards

    Bushfire Survival Plans 

    RFS Farm Fire Plan

    Livestock and bushfire resources 

    NSW Department of Primary Industries 

    South East Local Land Services 1300 795 299 

    Vegetation Management

    Victorian Country Fire Authority - Landscaping for bushfire 

    Please note that this is a Victorian website, but it has relevant information for this topic.

    Australian Network for Plant Conservation 2019/20 bushfire resources page

    Fire retardant plants for ACT

    This webinar was made possible with funding from the New South Wales Government through an Increasing Resilience to Climate Change (IRCC) Community Grant.

  • 2 Sep 2021 12:14 PM | Alex James (Administrator)

    This webinar was held on the 18 August 2021 with Dr Lou Baskind from South East Local Land Services and Dan Head from Value Life Farm.

    You can watch the recording here.

    Below is a summary of the key points from the webinar and a list of resources for more information.

    Water and nutrition- Pigs require access to high quality water and feed. They are monogastric animals like humans. In order of priority, pigs need fresh water, energy, protein, macro nutrients and other micro nutrients.

    The pig’s diet will influence the growth rate and quality of pork you produce. Pasture alone is not adequate to meet the nutritional needs of pigs and supplementary feeding is essential. Dan uses a sustainably sourced pig feed in bulka bags from Heritage Feeds. The amount of feed a pig requires will depend on the age and stage of development. Dan gave an example of a feeding regime that he uses - piglets are fed ad lib until they are five months old and then 2kg/head/day except for lactating sows then the rate increases to 7 kg/day.

    Pigs are curious animals and can damage water troughs, a closed off inlet valve can be useful for preventing damage to troughs or you can use water nipples.

    Swill Feeding is illegal in Australia.

    Swill feeding is the traditional name for the feeding of food scraps to pigs. Prohibited pig feed (‘swill’) includes meat (raw, cooked or processed), bone, blood, offal or hide derived from a mammal and anything that has come into contact with these materials (NSW DPI).

    Pigs are considered high risk for the introduction of exotic diseases in to Australia and swill feeding is considered to be the most likely pathway of disease introduction.

    Penning and housing- Wallowing is an important natural behaviour of pigs. Pigs cannot sweat so wallowing allows them to moderate their body temperature. Pigs can be kept on a deep litter system, where the manure and urine are composted down with wood chips. Dan uses electric fencing for his pigs, he trains them using feed and uses boards to move them in yards if required. This method of handling is referred to as low stress livestock handling and will improve meat quality (see refences below). Shelter is also important for pigs, especially for furrowing sows and piglets, and during the summer months to protect them from sunburn and heat stress.

    Pigs can be raised outdoors and used for removing weeds, cultivation and rotational grazing. They can be raised successfully using organic and regenerative agriculture principles. Dan sought inspiration from Joel Salatin, Justin Rhodes and has his own YouTube Channel. For more information visit the Value Life Farm website.

    Disease and zoonosis – pigs carry several diseases that can spread to humans including leptospirosis, Erysipelas, Q Fever and Brucella suis. If you are handling pigs, it is worthwhile checking with your doctor what vaccinations you should consider, and with your vet about how to vaccinate your pigs in order to protect yourself as well.

    Piglet castration – male piglets must be castrated using a knife not rings like the ones used for lambs. Seek advice from your vet or an experienced pig farmer.

    Councils have rules about owning pigs – check with your local council before buying them.

    Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline

    1800 675 888

    Property Identification and moving pigs - all owners of pigs require a property identification code (PIC). Look at this handy guide from the NSW Department of Primary Industries for more information.

    Moving Pigs Eight Step Guide

    Resources

    Swill feeding

    Pig husbandry and housing

    Pig nutrition Basics - DAF QLD

    Deep litter housing for pigs

    Responsible pig ownership - NSW DPI

    Eight must dos for pig ownership - NSW DPI

    Pig biosecurity management resources 

    Local Government rules

    Local Government (General) Regulation 2005

    Part 5 Standards for Keeping Birds or Animal, Keeping of Swine clauses 17 and 18.

    Palerang Local Government Planning rules for keeping pigs

    Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council Duty Planner 1300 735 025.

    Low stress handling research

    Grandin T., (2020) “Livestock Handling at the Abattoir: Effects on Welfare and Meat Quality”, Meat and Muscle Biology 4(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.22175/mmb.9457

    Grandin T., (2019) Understanding Flight Zone and Point of Balance for Low Stress Handling of Cattle, Sheep, and Pigs.

    Pig Agskills Book - Tocal Collage NSW

    This webinar was made possible with funding from the NSW Environmental Trust through Every Bit Counts Project and with in-kind support from South East Local Land Services District Veterinarian Dr Lou Baskind and Dan Head from Value Life Farm.

  • 1 Sep 2021 4:10 PM | Alex James (Administrator)

    The Small Farms Network Capital Region was a Land for Wildlife Provider from June 2017 to April 2021. During that time we facilitated the assessment of 64 properties in the Palerang District. Our intrepid Land for Wildlife assessors were Kris Nash and Jo Walker who bought years of experience along with encyclopaedic knowledge of plants and natural resource management (NRM) to the program. They used this experience to provide landholders with advice and education about the plants and animals on their properties.

    The Land for Wildlife Program is a free, non-binding program for landholders. Under the program, property owners receive a free visit from a NRM specialist and a report about the plants and animals living on their property.

    Jo and Kris reflect below on their experience being Land for Wildlife assessors for the Small Farms Network Capital Region and the former Palerang Action Network for Sustainability.


    Most people are surprised to learn the diversity they have on their farm

    It was fascinating to discover the variety of landscapes existing in the area we covered, ranging from tall forests to grassy open expanses and including rocky outcrops of shale or granite, creeks, gullies and dams. Identifying plants involved peering into the high branches of eucalypts, crawling through shrubbery and kneeling to get a close look at Sundews and other tiny plants.

    Sometimes we came across threatened ecological communities (grassy box woodland, grasslands) and uncommon or threatened plant species but otherwise we encountered everything from dense to open forest, patches with an intact and diverse native understorey, to low diversity paddocks with a few remnant eucalypts.


    There were a few surprises too. I think the most memorable was an understorey of purple-flowering Comesperma ericinum (Heath Milkwort) in an area of dry forest in Wamboin.  This species is not common in this area and usually occurs as an individual plant or in small groups.

    The average number of plants per property was 60 species (112 from one property), with 316 different native plants recorded across the assessment area. Many more species would have been recorded had it been possible to visit everyone during spring, but most property owners were pleasantly surprised at the number of native plants on their block. All properties had at least 0.5 ha of native vegetation, most had far more.

    Weeds, wildlife habitat and wombats

    The most common issue discussed was the identification and control of weeds including woody weeds, sifton bush, pine trees, various noxious grasses, pesky annuals and garden escapees. Other issues included erosion control, the enhancement of dams, protecting native seed stock from grazing animals, rehabilitation, salinity control and feral animal management.

    We encountered goannas, baby kangaroos and wombats, threatened birds and frogs, scats, scratchings, nests and diggings of many animals, and sadly a bunch of sugar glider tails.  


    So how can we improve our land? 

    Our main advice to property owners was to weed, weed, weed and more weeding. We know this is easier said than done but removing pressure from weedy plants will provide more room for native grassland and bush to recover. Other common advice included keeping as much exposed or disturbed soil covered as possible, 80% at least, through mulching, laying heavy logs, branches and/or rocks. Planting additional plants is not usually necessary when the understorey is diverse and there is regeneration of overstory species. That ‘mess’ is great for biodiversity and should be valued. The other major goal should be to retain and protect remnant trees for their all-important hollows for nesting birds and animals.

    Great people and a few eccentrics too

    It was also interesting to talk to the people who had invited us onto their land for the assessments. They were as diverse as the plants, but all had a deep desire to do something for the environment and the local wildlife. Several of them were wildlife rescuers and carers.  The pig purchased as a ‘mini’ but now grown to an enormous stature deserves a mention, as does the lengths people have gone to, to provide homes and habitat for the animals sharing their properties. They were all very keen to know what plants were on their land and their relationship with the local wildlife, and were sometimes amazed by the number of native plants on the lists. To help them understand which plants were listed, we provided them with some information and a follow up email.


    Altogether, it was a rewarding experience for us to be able to provide enthusiastic landholders with more knowledge of their farm. It was a privilege to be part of the Land for Wildlife program and humbling to meet such dedicated and caring people. It was a personal highlight to assist landholders discover just how diverse and valuable for wildlife their individual properties were.

    Individual land holders and the broader community has benefited from Jo and Kris’s expertise and enthusiasm for helping others to learn about the natural environment. Vicki, one of the landholders, had this to say about the assessment done by Jo and Kris.

    ‘I found the whole Land for Wildlife experience very positive and learnt a lot about the plants growing here. It was great to know we had such diversity on our farm. The visit from Jo and Kris helped us appreciate the value of the habitat that we have on our farm. Rather than thinking we have a paddock of rocky outcrops we now see a paddock with great habitat potential. Being given a list of species was the icing on the cake. The assessment has encouraged me to focus more on weed removal instead of re-vegetation. Over-all our visit from Jo and Kris was a very enlightening and positive experience from extremely knowledgeable and committed people.’

    Thanks for the funding and support

    The Small Farms Network Land for Wildlife Program would not have been possible without the support of the Geary’s Gap/Wamboin Landcare Group., National Landcare Program and John Asquith from the Community Environment Centre. 

    Here is a message from Geary’s Gap Landcare.

    Gearys Gap/Wamboin Landcare Group has been very pleased to have been able to support LfW in this region over the past decade. The activities of Landcare and Land for Wildlife are complementary and each makes a valuable contribution to the natural environment of this region. The excellent collaborative work of the two organisations has been exemplary.

    Thanks to Jo and Kris for a wonderful contribution and to all our supporters.

    For more information on the Land for Wildlife program please contact the Community Environment Centre.

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Small Farms Network Capital Region Inc
PO Box 313
Bungendore
NSW 2621

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