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The purpose of this workshop was to demonstrate how to design and install electric fencing in ways that make a small farm more productive and increase the range of plants and animals living there. Dean Paton from Gallagher Fencing, Matt Chidgey from Southern Ag and David Hilhorst from Works for Water were the presenters.
Some key points from the workshop:
More information about earthing systems can be found here.
Resources and links
Guidelines for fencing in flood prone areas
Wildlife friendly fencing design
Fencing how and where for small farms
Basic Information on Electric fencing
Gallagher Fencing Website
There are a range of fencing materials online. The product demonstrated at this workshop was from Gallagher but you could also try Waratah Fencing.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a spiritual connection with the land, which can be expressed in some part through stories about plants, insects and animals in a particular location.
By studying the behaviour of different species of insects, Aboriginal people used their traits to help them in their everyday lives. For example, Tyronne told us about the ability of ants to regulate the temperature of their nest by bring different coloured gravel to the surface of the nest. White in summer and black in winter. Meat ants were used by some Aboriginal people to clean the carcasses of fish so the bones could be used as needles.
If you find Aboriginal artefacts, scar trees or other relics it is important to leave them intact and where you found them. These items hold great significance for Aboriginal people and are protected under NSW law. You can find out more information at the Office of Environment and Heritage website.
Preserving Ngunnawal language is very important to local Aboriginal people. The language can be spoken by everyone and children especially should be encouraged to use it. Tyronne taught us how to say thank you in the Ngunnawal language ‘djan yimaba’. You can find more information about Ngunawal language in the links section below.
Some Aboriginal people used to bend and weigh down trees in order to use the trunk as a structure to build a shelter on. In winter more permanent structures and caves were used as housing and remains of stone structures built by Aboriginal people have been found in our region.
Plant species commonly found in the Bungendore area had special uses for Aboriginal people. For example, the Cherry Ballart (Exocarpus cupressiformis) looks like a small cypress tree and the sweet, juicy fruit provide a spring time snack, the sap can be used for snake bite, the fresh leaves are used for headaches, the roots as clap sticks and it can also be used as a shade tree to camp under. The plant was is used as an indicator species for the coming season.
Other plants that we learnt more about on the walk and talk were Hardenbergia violacea, Indigofera australis, Diannella species, Lomandra species, Acacia species, Cassinia quinquefaria, Microseris lanceolata and Bulbine bulbosa. Tyronne told us about the uses of these plants for food basket weaving and stunning fish. Some of them are poisonous and should not be eaten. Find out more about these plants and their uses by following the links below.
Australian National Botanic Gardens Aboriginal Trail
PDF Information Resources Aboriginal Plant Uses – Australian National Botanic Gardens
According to local Aboriginal culture there are six seasons in a calendar year and no autumn. The calendar includes two summers, two winters and two springs, each with their signature weather pattern and special traditions.
Protect and manage objects – Office of Environment and Heritage
Aboriginal Plant Uses in Southern Australia
ACT Environment and Planning Website for indigenous NRM
Plant Net Flora online – http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage ACT pdf brochure – includes pictures of plants
Ngunnawal Plant Use book
Ngunnawal language – simple list of words
Language revival project – https://aiatsis.gov.au/research/research-themes/ngunawal-language-revival-project
Indigenous Weather Calendar BOM
Indigenous weather knowledge
Dr Jane Morrison from Coopers Animal Health and Dr Alexandra Stephens from South East Local Land Services spent the day with our participants guiding them through the theory of worms and the practical aspects of worm management. Our hosts Suzie and Catherine showed participants how to do DIY faecal egg counts using a microscope.
The following points were the highlights of the workshop for Tracey, one of the participants.
1. Learning about the life cycle of the different worms in sheep and cattle was really important. I now understand how the worm life cycle can help inform strategic grazing decisions and the class of animal that you might graze on a particular paddock. I found out that temperature and rainfall impact on the survival of worm eggs and larvae on the pasture. There are two main life cycles of worms direct and indirect. Direct life cycles involve only one host, for example round worms and indirect life cycles involve two different types of hosts.
Round worm life cycle
Liver fluke life cycle – an example of an indirect worm life cycle.
2. Using faecal egg count tests can help inform decision making about drenching livestock and potentially save me time and money. The demonstration of how faecal egg counting is done helped me understand that using worm testing is a good management tool that can enable targeted use of drenches when needed.
Drench decision guide for sheep
3. Overall, the main benefit of the workshop for me is that I now realise how much detail there is in controlling worms in animals and that improving my knowledge about worms and their management can make a big difference to their health.
Five key components of a worm management strategy
Grazing management is the most important factor in controlling worms. Grazing management can include spelling paddocks and choosing the best clean paddocks for the classes of stock that have the highest nutritional demands and susceptibility to worms (weaners and pregnant or lactating ewes). Control worms without drench by using good grazing management including ‘smart grazing’, cross grazing with other species, rotational grazing and the use of fodder crops.
Grazing management and worms
Breed and feed for worm resistance. Older animals in good condition have higher immunity to worms than young or poorer animals. Adult cattle and sheep are good at developing worm immunity, except when they are lambing/calving and lactating. Aim for a condition score of 2.5 or above for more resilient animals with stronger immunity. Rams and breeding ewes can be selected for worm resistance – some breeds may have higher immunity to worms including Corriedale and Border Leicester sheep.
Use strategic drenching and good drenching principles. Dose correctly to the heaviest animals, calibrate the drench gun, use faecal egg counting to check drench efficiency and choose combination drenches with 2 plus additives. Use long acting drenches judiciously as they can accelerate resistance in worms. Always use a quarantine drench when you purchase new stock even if you have been told that the animals have been drenched. There are special drench combinations that should be used for quarantine drenching. Drench lambs/calves at weaning as they are highly susceptible to worms and are usually being weaned during high worm risk weather. Seek further advice form a vet if you need help.
Tactical drenching – these are drenches that are used when a faecal egg count test shows a high result or the animals show clinical signs of worm infestation.
The difference between tactical and strategic drenches – WormBoss
Manage worm resistance by informing yourself about the causes and what you can do to help prevent it. Get advice about interpreting faecal egg count tests and managing worms in livestock. Drenching may not be necessary if egg counts are low.
Managing drench resistance
You can contact your Local Land Services office for guidance on managing worms in livestock. Kits for faecal egg count tests are available free from Local Land Services offices and many rural suppliers.
The WormBoss website provides a comprehensive toolkit for managing worms.
Worm Control in Cattle – the Basics – NSW DPI Fact Sheet
Cattle parasite atlas – Meat and Livestock Australia – a comprehensive guide to managing cattle parasites in the different regions of Australia.
South East Local Land Services Animal Health Update – this update includes information on Barbers Pole Worm and Bioworma.
Worm Boss Canberra Region Drench Program
Worm Control in Horses – it’s all changed – Dr Petrea Wait (scroll down to the Animal Health Update February 2018)
DIY worm egg counting
Worm test for livestock and guide to egg counts
Liver Fluke guide from WormBoss
Community spirit, professional expertise and practical demonstrations were a feature of this erosion and revegetation workshop. Guest speakers David Hilhorst and Andy Taylor from South East Local Land Services and Scott Soper led an inspiring and educational day.
Here are ideas and strategies from the workshop.
Pioneer plants such as wattle add nitrogen to the soil and improve soil fertility and structure. You can use branches from these plants (preferably with seed attached) and lay them over bare ground to create a nursery for seeds and/or or tube stock.
Locally grown small trees including wattles, kunzea and tea tree can be lopped and placed strategically on an eroded gully floor, the branches can be bundled and pegged creating a brush raft. The raft areas catch sediment that can be direct seeded using native grasses, sedges and rushes.
Look for wet patches above and below small erosion head cuts and use these sites for revegetation using locally sourced plants. Use bendy plants that slow the speed of the water including Juncus species, Carex appressa and Lomandra species. Trees that grow thick trunks should be avoided in confined gully beds and streams because tree trunks can deflect flood waters into banks and exacerbate the erosion problem.
Protect your soil from erosion is by maintaining 70- 80% ground cover in your paddocks and by limiting stock access to dams and dam spill ways. Erosion can be caused by overland flows from vegetation removal, dams, roads and gullies and by subsurface water movement. You can use simple clues to help you read your land, for example, are larger trees dying in patches? This could indicate that salinity is a problem. The eroded site at the property we visited was most likely being impacted by saline ground water which we learned also affects the water quality in the dam.
Mapping shallow ground water with an electrical conductivity survey gives an insight into the depth of the water resource and the salinity of an area. Windellama Landcare owns electrical conductivity (EC) mapping equipment and it can be hired for use by property owners and contractors. You should seek advice from South East Local Land Services to help you plan your erosion control work and EC mapping – Contact your Local Land Services office.
Eroded patches of sodic soils in gullies look like candle wax or stalactites. You can do a simple sodicity test using a small clod of soil and a clear dish. If area around the clod becomes cloudy, this indicates that the soil is sodic and might be highly erosive. Soil sampling of your farm could help you decide if you should be planting salt tolerant species at an eroded site.
Saline and Sodic Soils – the Difference video
Weirs, rock structures and rock/wire mesh weirs are all examples of “controlled activities” that may require a permit. Contact the Office of Water for advice about building structures including dams in drainage lines. As a general principle, water should always be returned to the same drainage line not diverted to another site. Before undertaking major works in water courses and gullies it is wise to check that your contractor has sought the correct approvals.
Contact a water regulatory officer as listed on the Office of Water website, call the licensing information on 1800 353 104 or email email@example.com for more information.
Jute mesh or hessian can be used on bare eroded sites to create zones where vegetation can be established. ‘Burritos’ can be made by wrapping jute or hessian fabric around a mixture of forest mulch and compost which can then be laid on the contour and held in place using wire pegs. Mulched areas can then be seeded with a soil conservation grass mix or local native grasses. Once micro climates have been established other plants can be encouraged to grow using the brush raft technique described above.
Weeds such as blackberry and serrated tussock can be used as a resource to help provide mulch, organic matter and plant cover at eroded sites if they are already growing there. It is important though to manage weeds to prevent flowering or setting seed by cutting, spraying or manual removal. Chip and spray the weeds or cut the canes and leave them in situ on the gully floor or bank, this slows the flow of water and traps sediment. The area can be then planted with desirable plants and grasses. The thorny plants can act as protection for new plants during establishment. Continual monitoring of weed prone sites is important.
The SIX Maps website can be used to work out the size of the catchment for an erosion head cut. For example, using SIX Maps, Andy Taylor estimated that for 1 in 50 year high rainfall events, the gully on this farm would have one tonne of water per second flowing over it. That is equivalent to one intermediate bulk container (IBC)/second. Estimating catchment size, soil testing and electrical conductivity testing are just some of the tools that can be used when planning erosion control measures.
Gully Erosion Assessment and Control Guide
The Farm Dam Handbook
Rural Living Guide – A guide for Rural Landholders in the South East
Guide to Managing Ground Cover – MLA
DPI Erosion Website
Grassland Flora – a field guide for the Southern Tablelands
Native tree and shrub resources
SIX Maps – mapping tool
This event was made possible with funding and in-kind support from South East Local Land Services.
See the MLA’s A Guide to Best Practice Husbandry in Beef Cattle for information on calf marking.
Discussions from the workshop are outlined below.
Vaccinations are given subcutaneously – just under the skin. The best place to give the injection is on the side of the calf’s neck (see fact sheet on vaccinations below for a diagram). The 5-in-1 vaccination covers five clostridial diseases, namely pulpy kidney (enterotoxaemia), black disease, tetanus, blackleg, and malignant oedema. 7-in-1 covers the same diseases as 5-in-1 plus Leptospira harjo and Leptospira Pomona. Using 7-in-1 is recommended if you are keeping the stock for breeding. Keep vaccines cool in an esky while you are marking. Hygiene is important – keep the needles and injection site on the animal clean. To be effective these vaccines require an initial dose, a booster 4-6 weeks later and an annual booster.
See Future Beef Knowledge Centre information on vaccinations for beef cattle
Zoonosis refers to a disease or infection that can transfer from animals to humans – examples include Q Fever and Leptospirosis. People who work with animals should be vaccinated against Q-fever and understand how to minimise the risks of contracting these diseases.
Castrate calves as young as possible (around two weeks of age), not more than 3 months or younger than 24 hours. The rubber ring method is the easiest and safest method for small farmers to use on young calves. Using analgesia (pain relief) such as local anaesthetic and/or anti-inflammatory drugs could be beneficial to reduce pain and swelling at the castration site, and improve welfare. There is a 90 day withholding period for some medications given to calves.
If you have any concerns about the condition of stock in your area you can contact the NSW Stock Squad or RSPCA. It is not anonymous but it is strictly confidential and protected in accordance with the NSW Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act.
NSW Stock Squad Cooma 02 6452 0099
RSPCA 1300 CRUELTY or online
Grazing and droving on roadsides requires a permit – information on stock permits
Additional resources from workshop
Presentation from Dr Lou Baskind – District Veterinarian South East Local Land Services
Prime Fact – Cattle Producers Biosecurity Duty
Spotted anything unusual?
Call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888
Do not be afraid to contact or report to your District Veterinarian. District veterinarians can help with diagnostic investigations of unexplained deaths or herd syndromes and there are often funding arrangements in place. Some specific signs to report if noted in cattle: sudden or unexpected deaths, red or brown urine, cattle ticks, chronic wasting conditions, lumps along the neck, cysts in meat, or abortions/vaginal discharge.
Other cattle disease information
Enzootic bovine leucosis
Bovine Johnes Disease
Contacting South East Local Land Services
Braidwood 02 4842 2594
Goulburn 02 4824 1900
Yass 02 6118 7700
Low rainfall and high stock feed prices put significant strain on livestock managers. This workshop presented by Darren Price from Price Rural Consultants and Helen Smith, Agricultural Advisor from South East Local Land Services (LLS), looked at how to feed livestock safely and economically when pasture is in short supply. It was held in Winter 2018 during the drought.
1. Sometimes you need to make tough decisions about your capacity (cost, feed availability and time) to feed livestock in the coming months. Reduce your numbers or destock while the animals are in good condition.
2. Choose which animals stay and go with the goal of improving your herd/flock in the long term. Check the condition of your stock and cull animals that are under performing. Cull any animals that are getting old, with cracked teeth or missing teeth – as a general rule cows over the age of eight years have reached the end of their productive life, although there might be the occasional pet that gets to stay longer. Pregnancy test and cull any stock that are not pregnant (if they should be pregnant). You have to decide if the value of the animal is worth the money and time you invest in feeding them: whether this is the dollars you earn from selling weaners or the satisfaction you have in producing your own food.
3. Think about the water requirements for your livestock. Get your livestock water storage full and keep as full as possible. Some supplements have salt in them that increases the animal’s requirement for water. Pregnant and lactating animals have a higher demand for water than other classes of stock. Water quality testing kits for livestock drinking water can be sourced from your Local Land Services office.
4. Remember to undertake routine animal management procedures including managing parasites, giving vaccinations and monitoring animal health during dry conditions. Weaning early to reduce the demand on breeding stock could be a strategy to consider. The Sheep Connect website has webinars about early weaning, feeding and selling sheep during drought.
5. Develop your skills for assessing pasture quantity and quality. This is essential for working out the amount of feed that you have in your paddocks. Dry standing feed can be useful for providing gut fill when feeding stock with other supplements.
7. Sheep and cattle can be fed grain or grain-based pellets as supplementary feed (must not contain restricted animal material). They will also need a source of fibre (pasture or hay).
7. All new feeds should be introduced gradually over a period of weeks so livestock do not gorge themselves and get bloat or grain poisoning. It takes time for the rumen microbes to adjust to a new feed (including green pastures after long dry periods). When changing feeds, shandy the new feed with the existing ration.
8. To work out the best value feeds for supplementing pasture, look at the energy value of the feed. Feeds that are cheaper (dollars per kilogram) may not necessarily end up being the best value if the energy content is lower or quality is poor which often results in more wastage.
10. Molasses can be used to top up energy but is not adequate for survival on its own. Molasses can be given as a liquid or a lick block. The stock must also have access to pasture and/or hay.
11. Urea can be fed to top up protein but needs to be used very carefully and can be toxic (especially to non-ruminants). Seek advice before using.
12. Cattle need additional calcium, sodium and magnesium (e.g. in a loose lick) when fed low quality hay or grain-based feeds. For more information visit the Future Beef Website
13. Sheep need additional calcium and salt when fed grain-based feeds. For more information see Autumn Feeding Guide for Sheep
14. After 4-6 months without green feed, young animals may need additional Vitamin A (ADE injection) and Vitamin B12 (injection). Seek veterinary advice.
This workshop was made possible with funding and in-kind support from South East Local Land Services and the voluntary efforts of the Small Farms Network Capital Region committee.
For this workshop our hosts were Peter and Penny Dagg from Eastern Dorpers and White Dorpers who shared their knowledge and experience about managing sheep health with our enthusiastic participants. Our other guest speakers were Dr Kate Sawford, the District Veterinarian from South East Local Land Services and Dr Natasha Lees from Scibus Pty Ltd (so a line-up of four vets in total!). The day included some theory sessions, a paddock walk and a sheep handling demonstration.
Please note that the following notes from the workshop are general in nature and farmers should seek expert advice for their particular situation.
The best methods of disease control are good animal husbandry, including ensuring your stock have access to adequate feed and water, and vaccinating and drenching your stock following best practice advice. If you are new to farming and not sure what to look out for here are some general tips:
Learn the correct way to vaccinate your animals. Most vaccines are administered subcutaneously, between the skin and muscle. Read the instructions about dosage and administering the vaccine on the box. Try not to accidentally vaccinate yourself since some vaccines can have serious side effects. Vaccines that are particularly high-risk for humans include the Gudair vaccine for sheep.
Learn the correct way to drench your animals for internal parasites, including worms and liver fluke. WormBoss has lots of information about the different types of worms, drenches and other management strategies for sheep and goats.
There are some animal diseases that can transfer to humans and impact on your health. These are called zoonotic diseases. One example is Q fever which is a bacterial infection that causes flu-like symptoms in people and it can have long term effects. It is recommended that people handling sheep, cattle and goats consider getting tested and vaccinated for Q Fever, particularly if they are in contact with breeding animals. See the NSW Health Website for more information. Many rural-based medical practices offer Q Fever vaccination.
You should contact your local vet or District Veterinarian to report animal health concerns affecting several animals or multiple unexplained animal deaths as soon as possible. You can also call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Line on 1800 675 888 and find more on the Animal Health Australia website.
When purchasing livestock, ask for an animal health declaration. This covers a range of diseases and parasites. While this is not a mandatory requirement, all good breeders should supply them for sheep, cattle and goats that are moved around Australia.
Some diseases move with infected breeding animals like bulls and rams. Diseases like Vibriosis in cattle and Brucellosis in sheep can have a significant, detrimental effect on herd performance.
Vibriosis fact sheet
Ovine Brucellosis fact sheet
Liver fluke fact sheet
Every landholder who manages livestock (ruminants, pigs and horses) on their property is required to have a Property Identification Code (PIC). The data collected through the annual stock return for each property is used to create an annual animal census and the data is used in times of natural disaster to aid in recovery and organise fodder drops. The PIC number is also used for food safety requirements and food traceability which is required for international trade and domestic food safety. You can find out more about livestock management including applying for a PIC at South East Local Land Services – Livestock.
There are a number of steps that you need to take to buy and sell livestock. When purchasing livestock it is important to purchase livestock from a trusted source with a National Vendor Declaration and animal health declaration to avoid importing diseases and parasites onto your property. Information about buying and selling ruminants can be found on the NSW DPI website and the 8 Step Guide to moving and selling sheep and goats. The South East Local Land Services Guide to Moving Stock is another useful resource.
Farm biosecurity is a set of measures that you can put in place to manage the risks of diseases, weeds and pests on your property. Simple biosecurity measures that small farmers can take include:
The Animal Health Australia Website has a useful Biosecurity Brochure for farmers.
This event was made possible with funding and in-kind support from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, South East Local Land Services and Scibus Pty Ltd. This initiative is part of the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the Government’s plan for Stronger Farmers and a Stronger Community.
The Small Farms Network would like to thank the sponsor of the network The Palerang Local Action Network for Sustainability and the Small Farms Network Capital Region Committee. Finally thank you to our hosts and volunteers Peter and Penny Dagg at Eastern Dorpers and White Dorpers for hosting the field day and sharing their knowledge and expertise.
We have a knack for bringing wet blustery conditions on our field days and Weeds in Waterways on the 14 April 2018 was no exception. Eighteen hardy souls donned their jackets for a day of information and demonstrations by presenters Rebecca Bradley – Senior NRM Manager from South East Local Land Services, Lori Gould – Grass Roots Environmental and John Franklin – Franklin Consulting.
Rebecca Bradley began by explaining the legal obligations of farmers with regard to weed management in NSW. The Biosecurity Act 2015 has two key principles: biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility and all land managers have a general biosecurity duty.
All waterways are unique and behave differently depending the geology, soil type, river processes and energy level. You need to have a basic understanding of all aspects of stream behaviour before undertaking ground works. Something that works in one location may not be suitable on your property. Getting good local advice is a must. There are chemical, biological, physical and farm management factors that determine the behaviour of a watercourse. First and second order streams can have structures put in them to mitigate erosion, third order streams require a permit for structures and professional advice should be sought in this situation.
John Franklin and Lori Gould shared their expertise in managing weeds in waterways including a discussion about willows and managing a riparian restoration project.
Willows friend or foe?
Willows (Salix spp.) are currently identified as a weed of national significance (see weeds of national significance list). They are invasive and well adapted to Australian conditions. Key points about willows:
For more information on willows see the Rivers of Carbon website – What is the problem with Willows?
Managing weeds in waterways
Some general principles for managing weeds in waterways:
The following fact sheets may be helpful:
· Serrated tussock
· Love Grass
· Scotch Broom
· Preparing a Whole of Property Weed Management Plan – South East Local Land Services
This field day was made possible with funding from the Australian Government and in-kind support and funding from South East Local Land Services. Thank you to our sponsors of the network, the Palerang Local Action Network for Sustainability, and our host farm.
The weekend in March 2018 was a ‘cut above’ the rest of our workshops for 27 participants from the region.
Workshop trainer Barry Aitchison shared with us some chainsaw related statistics. The National Coronial Information Service data shows at least 99 deaths occurred in Australia between 2000 and 2016 as a result of chainsaw use and tree felling (Source ABC News). According to Barry in 2014 there were over 60 accidents from chainsaw use requiring at least 66 stitches in NSW hospitals. Having worked in the industry for over 33 years Barry believes that the main cause of injury is apathy, complacency and fatigue since most accidents occur in the afternoon.
So what are Barry’s top five tips for safe chainsaw operation and maintenance?
See chainsaw maintenance video
By providing links to external information in this summary, the Small Farms Network Capital Region is not recommending or promoting any brand of equipment. The links contain the best available diagrams and information on the topic.
The Small Farms Network Capital Region would like to thank Mr Greg Simms from BRural for sponsoring this field day. Sponsorship enables us to keep the cost of our workshops affordable. Check out the range of BRural chainsaw equipment in store and online.
This field day was made possible with funding from the Australian Government, in-kind support from South East Local Land Services and sponsorship from BRural. Thank you to our sponsors, the Palerang Local Action Network for Sustainability, and our hosts Alan and Sue for giving up their weekend to help others learn.
This workshop held in early 2018 looked at many aspects of storing and using water on farms. The following is a summary.
Each NSW property has a maximum volume of water (harvestable right) that can be stored in dams that is based on the area of the property. Before building a dam you need to calculate the capacity of existing dams to see if you have any more harvestable rights available (see NSW Office of Water Maximum Harvestable Right Calculator).
If you have harvestable rights available then you need to work out whether a licence is required to build a dam (see NSW Office of Water Harvestable Rights – Dams). The easiest option is to build a dam on a first or second-order stream. Dams on third-order waterways require a licence. The order of streams is based on the pattern of blue lines for watercourses shown on topographic maps (e.g. look up SIX maps for your property). There is an explanation about how to work out what order watercourse you are dealing with in NSW Office of Water Dams in NSW: Where Can They be Built Without a Licence. [Your Council may also require you to lodge a development application before constructing a dam – Ed.]
Good spillway design is crucial to ensuring that excess water can be released safely when there is lots of rain. It is desirable to have good ground cover on the spillway to protect it from erosion and also to keep it dry as often as possible. A trickle pipe can be installed to release small amounts of water so the spillway is kept dry.
Farm dams can be made wildlife friendly and more attractive by excluding stock and planting riparian plants. See The Farm Dam Handbook (Water NSW) for design ideas and strategies.
What makes dams leak?
Leaking dams are expensive to repair. Options for repair include polymer material applied when dam is full or rubber or plastic liners. Contrary to popular opinion, throwing Bentonite into a dam will not fix leaks.
It is also good practice not to plant trees on dam walls to reduce the risk of their roots causing leaks when the tree dies.
Silted up dams
Aim to maintain groundcover in the dam catchment to minimise silt flowing into the dam. Silt can be cleared out of a dam by emptying the water and then bucketing out the mud and spreading it on the dam wall or elsewhere. Sometimes dams leak after this has been done because the silt has been sealing leaks.
Erosion around dams
Generally erosion is caused when a dam is built on steeper ground so that the water drops down the front edge of the dam. The eroding areas can be protected by spreading rock on them. It might also help to build a berm across the front of the dam to direct the water into a narrow channel flowing into the dam that can be protected with rock. Strategies for dealing with erosion involve slowing the water moving down the slope, covering exposed soil and re-establishing ground covers.
The NSW Government Soil Conservation Service provides consultants who can help design dams and provide advice for solving problems with existing dams.
There are three key things to consider when planning your water supply for stock:
Stock water can be provided by giving access to a dam or pumping water to troughs. Generally stock should be fenced out of dams to maintain water quality but you can fence so that they have limited access to a dam over rocky ground. Water troughs need to be kept clean and you need to make sure that all animals have access to troughs – sometimes there are bullies who keep the other stock away from the trough.
The water in the dam will be cleaner if you fence to stop stock camping in the dam catchment. It is also important to maintain 100% ground cover in the dam catchment and 80% elsewhere to reduce silt and nutrient run off into the dam.
Most farms store rainwater collected from roofs in tanks for use in the house including drinking. While this tank water is relatively low risk, good hygiene is critical for ensuring water is safe for drinking. People with compromised immune systems and the elderly are most at risk.
Key actions are:
If the water becomes contaminated (e.g. dead animal in tank), water can be made safe for drinking by boiling. UV filters can also be used to clean water but are more expensive.
This field day was made possible with funding from the Australian Government, in-kind support from South East Local Land Services, the Soil Conservation Service and Veolia. Thank you to our sponsors of the network, the Palerang Local Action Network for Sustainability, and our host farm.
Small Farms Network Capital Region IncPO Box 313BungendoreNSW 2621