It's not exactly the Great Wall of China (pictured) but it's the closest thing in CQ.
It's not exactly the Great Wall of China (pictured) but it's the closest thing in CQ. CONTRIBUTED

The great wall of CQ: Man installs $400,000 fence

BEN Banks and his wife Oona have put in a 60km of dog fencing worth $400,000 to protect their 25,000 merinos.

The farmers who run Rivington Station, west of Blackall, have installed the $6,500 a kilometre fence in hopes to boost their lambing percentages, which have previously been decreased as a direct result from wild dogs.

Mr Banks says despite the cost of the fence it has paid for itself within just a couple of years.

"If you're in a position to be able to afford to put up fencing while you're marking 80-100 per cent of lambs, do it," he said.

"Don't wait until you're marking 20 per cent of lambs because it becomes a lot harder to justify and harder to afford."

Given the high cost of the infrastructure the wool producer said it is critical to research construction options and discuss the merits of different materials with those who had already installed fences.

"I will be honest, between when we started the fence and when we finished, we changed nearly 100 per cent of our fencing installation techniques. We also learnt techniques that reduced the strain on man power," Mr Banks said.

 

 

Mr Banks says despite the cost of the fence it has paid for itself within just a couple of years
Mr Banks says despite the cost of the fence it has paid for itself within just a couple of years Contributed

 

"The primary change we made was to how we rolled out the netting. Initially, we were rolling out netting horizontally off the back of the truck. We then changed to rolling it out vertically. This made the process quicker, reduced man power and made straining the fence a lot easier."

Longreach wool producer David Owens, is another western Queensland producer who was motivated to install exclusion fencing to reduce the impact of wild dogs on his Merino operation.

"In one paddock we were losing 20 to 30 lambs a week to wild dogs," he said.

"Overall our lambings were down to 50 per cent, when we can normally work on 70 per cent and we felt certain most of those losses were a direct result of wild dogs.

"So we made the decision to start work on exclusion fencing. It will cost us about $150,000 for the 20 kilometres of fence we have planned, but if it will save our lambing rates then it's worth it in the long run."

Mr Owens said the dog fence was one of the most important investments producers could make.

"We've run some numbers and found that, depending on the season, the fence will for pay itself within two years and importantly it will give us back some control over production," he said.

In preparing to build the fence, Mr Owens found preparing beforehand helped with time and labour efficiency in the installation.

"It's important to do your research into the kind of fence and the materials you need for your place. You don't need a lot of machinery, you can get by without some things such as a slammer."

On the ground, one of the key elements of his fencing project has been to negotiate the challenges of building enduring, but effective flood fences.

 

Longreach wool producer David Owens, is another western Queensland producer who was motivated to install exclusion fencing to reduce the impact of wild dogs on his Merino operation.
Longreach wool producer David Owens, is another western Queensland producer who was motivated to install exclusion fencing to reduce the impact of wild dogs on his Merino operation. Contributed

With that in mind he has constructed flood fences with a two-part hinge specifically installed to withstand large flood events and critically remain "dog proof" during wet periods when the paddock might be inaccessible.

"The bottom layer is chicken wire which we make sure overlaps on the ground by about 45cm. Over the top of that is netting. These components are attached to a latch system which, when it floods, allows it to swing in the water. We've braced the posts back to withstand water pressure. We want to know nothing has breached the fence when we can't reach it."

He said he has already noticed significant improvements in production since he started work on the exclusion fencing.

"We have already seen improvements in lambing rates in the sections that have been fenced off. In my opinion, exclusion fencing is the single most important investment a sheep and wool producer can make to stay productive and ensure their business is sustainable into the future."


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