Less predators, more lambs
Lamb survival rates have increased by up to five per cent in sheep flocks using best-practice predator management techniques in north-east Victoria.
Eight prime lamb and wool producers in the Mansfield area are taking part in a Meat & Livestock Australia-funded project called Less Predators, More Lambs.
The project is led by Matt Mahoney of Agridome Consultancy and supported by National Wild Dog Management co-ordinator Greg Mifsud and Australian Wool Innovation’s Lucy-Anne Cobby.
Dr Mahoney said the project started in February 2021 and was driven by members of the Mansfield and Alexandra Best Wool/Best Lamb group.
Three training workshops focused on key sheep management topics and included refresher days on lifetime ewe management, increasing lamb survival and constructing a property-specific Pest Management Control Program (PMCP) using the FeralScan app.
There was also training and accreditation on 1080 baiting and setting canid pest ejectors and traps.
The producers formed their own FeralScan app group to record and view the wild dog and fox control and damage activities occurring on their properties.
The free app allowed the group to create a map of where they were focusing their control activities, keep records of where they laid baits or traps and helped the group to remain connected and co-ordinated.
The producers recently met to evaluate their progress after submitting data on lamb survival rates for the lambing season just gone.
This was compared to previous lambing season data from each property. The results from the first year showed lamb survival had improved on all the participating properties by two to five per cent.
Dr Mahoney said first results were positive, and with more than 6000 ewes being monitored, it was hoped by increasing the dataset this information could be further substantiated.
The producers also found the FeralScan app useful.
“The fact any employees can log into the account and see what was happening on the farm in terms of wild dog and fox activity was also considered to be a great advantage to using the app,” Mr Mifsud said.
“The community group notification process embedded in the app was also seen as a great function of the FeralScan app. The app provides a notification to all the group members when one makes a report of a stock attack.
“Not only does it notify the producer group members, but it also alerts the local wild dog management controller when a wild dog sighting or attack occurred.
"The immediate notification of the wild dog controller was seen as a key function as it had dramatically reduced the response time to incident of the wild dog attack within the group.”
The project is due to wind up in 2023.
For further information on FeralScan, visit: www.feralscan.org.au