Aerial culling of feral pigs is a significant part of an effective control strategy, dovetailed with poisoning, trapping and on-farm shooting.
Marcus Neiberding, Uliman, Purlewaugh helped organise a privately organised aerial pig cull, and its success was 250 pigs in just four hours of flying time.
Neighbours working together is the key to operational success, he said.
"Our property fronts Salt Creek, so I rang my neighbours along the creek to see if they were interested in organising a program.
Initially, he said there was some resistance at the hourly cost rate - $1300 an hour - but once the campaign was completed, the inquiry for the next program began to roll in.
"A good mate from boarding school has set up an aerial culling business at Wellington, and he hires a helicopter and pilot, then invoices an hourly rate plus ammunition," Mr Neiberding said.
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"I heard about his campaigns in the Premer and Bundella areas, and the success was amazing.
That mate is Oli Holland, Aerial Pest Management Pty Ltd, Uungula, Wellington, who said his decision to get into the business of aerial culling was generated by the pig problems on his family property.
"Our place is on the foreshores of Burrendong Dam, and we were trapping, baiting and shooting to keep the numbers down," he said.
"We are also looking at exclusion fences to keep the pigs off our place."
A key part of establishing his business is gaining the various types of accreditation, a process taking about 18 months.
He already had a Category D licence when he began to apply for his accreditation, and proposed changes with Category D legislation, which have now been overcome, were experienced.
Mr Holland said the results this season have been spectacular due to the massive surge in numbers of feral pigs.
"The numbers are pretty thick, the pigs are fat, and they are breeding like there's no tomorrow," he said.
Mr Holland said he'd used only one pilot in the three years he's run his business, Neil Hughes, Hughes Aviation.
"We use either an R44 (Robinson) or R66; it's a safe and cost-effective machine," he said.
"Our pilot has the necessary certifications for these programs, and we only use him.
Mr Holland said the cost ratio of aerial campaigns stacks up.
"Farmers say a pig will cost your crop about $150 a head.
"We did a 13-hour campaign on a Coolah district property that yielded 902 pigs, of which 467 were taken on 2000 hectares of sorghum.
"Another property at the foot of the Coolah Tops National Park yielded 115 pigs in 23 minutes of flying time.
"So if you can take a pig down for around $25, it stacks up.
"Aerial control programs are worthwhile for getting bulk numbers of pigs quickly. But it should be part of a wider trapping, baiting and shooting program," Mr Holland said.
Mr Neiberding said Local Lands Services (LLS) had organised a baiting campaign in the Purlewaugh district, which had been well supported.
He said controlling pigs was a "war of attrition".
"We're now planning a spring program, and plenty of our neighbours are now interested in taking part," he said.
North West LLS biosecurity officer Greg Lumbar said poisoning with 1080 baits was the most common form of control, but interest in using another baiting method, Hoggone, is starting to grow.
Hoggone's active ingredient is sodium nitrite, an effective and targeted poison for pigs.
Mr Lumbar said the surge in numbers of pigs is due to the two good seasons in NSW.
Feral pigs tend not to have a defined breeding season, feed availability triggers breeding events.
When high-quality food is plentiful, sows can breed throughout the year. They are pregnant for under four months, followed by a short non-breeding period while lactating. He said feral sows could produce up to two weaned litters within 15 months under ideal conditions.
Mr Lumbar said farmers experiencing problems with a surge in numbers of feral pigs should contact their local LLS biosecurity officer to help design a control program.
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