Protect soils ahead of winter

Consider stock levels to protect soils ahead of winter: NSW chief animal welfare officer


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Photo Shutterstock

Photo Shutterstock

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With the climate outlook for autumn remaining drier than normal, the state's chief animal welfare officer is recommending farmers consider plans for stock.

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With the climate outlook for autumn remaining drier than normal, the state's chief animal welfare officer is recommending farmers consider plans for stock.

Kim Filmer from the Department of Primary Industries said managing stock levels to suit the available vegetation would not only ensure better animal welfare outcomes but it would protect the land from soil degradation.

Dr Filmer said proactive stock management allowed the pasture to respond more quickly when it does rain.

"Driving around the Central Tablelands you can see the way properties respond to different stocking levels," Dr Filmer said.

"In the current conditions higher stocking levels can make it challenging to maintain ground cover and animal welfare outcomes."

Dr Filmer said higher stock densities on land with minimal ground cover contributed to soil erosion and top soil loss.

"As the drought progresses, we are all hoping it will rain but it hasn't," she said.

Department of Primary Industries chief animal welfare officer Kim Filmer. Photo supplied.

Department of Primary Industries chief animal welfare officer Kim Filmer. Photo supplied.

"Animals will eat the available ground cover which can leave the paddocks bare.”

With dust storms and rain events, she said it could cause a double whammy effect.

"The dust storms are caused as the top soil blows away and rain can cause the soil to erode," she said.

"It can then take longer for the pasture to rebound due to seed losses."

She added that if animals are also deteriorating, there is an animal welfare concern.

“Farmers livestock and other farm animals are their responsibility and it is up to each individual to plan and prepare for their welfare,” she said.

“By being proactive and making decisions early, farmers will help ensure good animal welfare outcomes and compliance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979.”

Dr Filmer said ahead of winter, all aspects of stock management needs to be considered, especially in drought conditions. 

"Without good rainfall conditions, stock feed and water in many locations will be in short supply and water sources may dry up," Dr Filmer said.

"There is very little pasture growth during the colder months and the outlook is still dry heading into winter so now is a good time to consider overall stock management."

...the outlook is still dry heading into winter.

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