Grazing Land Management

Kangaroos complicate protection of sparse lambing pastures

Terry Sim July 8, 2024

WESTERN Victorian sheep being released into paddocks after months in containment areas to allow pastures to grow are facing increasing grazing competition from kangaroos after recent rain.

However, for Pigeon Ponds maternal seedstock and prime lamb producer Tim Leeming and others across the region an influx of kangaroos from blue gum and native forest areas is complicating an already difficult low rainfall poor pasture growth period.

The kangaroo number have prompted his call for more discussion around development of a sustainable kangaroo harvesting and meat marketing program.

Mr Leeming said most people he has been talking to who have focused on feeding and maintaining breeding ewes in good condition and spread grain or fed at the start of lambing have had good results.

“The lambs are a little bit lighter as you would expect, and that has helped from a maintenance dystocia point of view.

“There have been very few hoof and cast problems, which is quite positive,” he said.

“Pretty well all the people around here who have finished lambing have gone back into full feeding of ewes with grain.”

He said the mild weather has been kind to sheep producers lambing in the difficult pasture conditions in terms of wind chill, but the area was deficient in sub-soil moisture despite recent rain.

“We are limited with urea and gibberellic acid efficacy because the lack of sub-soil moisture.

“Hopefully we will get an inch of rain this week, and we will contemplate urea next week.”

Mr Leeming said there is still only a spade leaf on clover on a lot of the country he runs with his wife Georgie.

“So our tactic is that we’ve got country shut up that we have Progibb-ed some, which has worked reasonably well, probably half effective.

“We will use urea after we get some better sub-soil moisture, maybe in a week or 10 days,” he said.

“Then we will have paddocks that will be in excess 12200-1500kgDM/he for early weaning of lambs, six weeks or older, and then we’ve got some paddocks that we’ve put high rates of wheat and cereal for the ewes to go on.

“You can either eat that stuff now and be set stocked everywhere and commit to feeding for two months, or you be disciplined and hold off pastures, use some grazing management and tools like urea and then hopefully you can get a rotation happening.”

Kangarii influx ‘unbelievable’

However, Mr Leeming said the recent influx of kangaroos into the area’s pastures was unbelievable.

“We’ve all been subliminally conscious that roo populations have been going up around us, but we’ve had seven Springs in a row and there have been some pretty hand seasons.

“So they have sort of hidden themselves in blue gums and probably breeding up fairly well on the feed amongst the trees, but now in a tough season that have poured out of those plantations and the native parks and scrub,” he said.

“We knew it was going to come, but ‘where lies the responsibility?” he asked.

“We as landowners have to make sure that our boundary fences contain sheep, cattle, horse and livestock that we run so that they don’t get on roads and damage cars and put people at risk.

“It would be like me breeding up a heap of sheep and cattle and just letting them loose,” he said.

“What’s the difference?

Mr Leeming said there is a need for a discussion on developing a full proactive sustainable kangaroo harvesting program that involves the pet food and human consumption markets as in other states.

“We need some incentive and value in the roos that are getting harvested for the shooters to be attracted to do it – that’s been an issue.

“We need to think logistically about how we can get strategically placed chilled holding facilities for kangaroos around the region,” he said.

“It could be another viable opportunity for families if we’ve got some good economics around having shooters in rural towns.”

Mr Leeming said the kangaroos had the potential to have a big impact on the sheep flock in the area.

“There would be farms around here that would be running more kangaroos than livestock.”

Pasture regeneration is mixed around fertility and quality

Hamilton-based veterinary consultant Graham Lean said improved pastures on clients’ farms are regenerating.

“So those pastures that don’t have improved species and high soil fertility won’t recover as fast and that’s what the science has told us in the past – better fertilized productive pastures will respond faster.”

“At the research station at Hamilton through some tight years they did some trials with nitrogen and consistently got about half a tonne dry matter growth (per hectare) over Winter even at low FOO (feed on offer) levels of around 800kg/DM/HA.

“The trick is if you actually improved with new cultivars of ryegrass, phalaris etc, they respond at roughly what the older cultivars do.



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  1. Katrina Love, July 9, 2024

    The introduced sheep are the problem, not the native macropods that have been here for 24 million years.

    “It would be like me breeding up a heap of sheep and cattle and just letting them loose,” he said.

    You have bred up a heap of sheep and cattle and let them loose on the Australian landscape, with their methane farts and damaging hooves, stealing pasture and land from those who were here first and have a right to it.

    If you can’t “farm” sheep without impacting the native wildlife, best you find an ethical, sustainable alternative.

  2. Malcolm Cock, July 8, 2024

    I agree Tim; the large kangaroo numbers are making best practice pasture and land management very difficult.
    I also agree the best way of managing the kangaroo over population is to professionally harvest as per the state program.
    The big challenge is the urban vote. The urban vote is being fed false information by extremist animal groups, particularly before local, state and federal elections.
    This has happened in my shire and despite advice to continue the harvesting program, the shire voted to ban it in my shire.

  3. Elle McKinnon, July 8, 2024

    Love this conversation. Opportunity for logistics here and farmers/shooters should be able to gain working groups to provide further ongoing food sources for competitive business and helping out in the field. Roos and sheep don’t mix I have been learning, Isn’t it called ‘contamination’ in the wool industry?

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