Co-ordinated fox baiting twice a year costing producers just $800 can increase lambing percentages by more than 20 per cent, a central west NSW landholder survey has found.
DPI invasive species officer Paul Meek said the survey involved more than 1000 sheep producers in central west NSW, representing 1400 flocks and 700,000 lambing ewes.
The survey examined lamb marking percentages in response to fox baiting and the additive effect of baiting practices on neighbouring properties.
“The results showed that as the proportion of the adjoining properties that co-ordinated their fox-baiting program increased, so did the survival of lambs on those properties.
“The effect was maximised where on property baiting was conducted twice a year in the vicinity of the lambing paddock and where the immediate neighbour also baited prior to lambing – this combination increased lamb marking percentages by more than 20 per cent,’ Mr Meek said.
“The cost of a baiting program conducted on farm twice per year, including labour, is approximately $800, making the return on investment from collaborative fox control substantial.”
NSW DPI encouraging baiting campaigns
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is encouraging landholders to work with their neighbours on fox control measures this spring.
The total annual cost of foxes to Australia’s environment and economy is estimated to be $227.5 million.
With foxes now occupying around 98 per cent of NSW, Central West Local Land Services livestock officer Rhett Robinson said fox predation has a serious impact on the chances of lamb survival.
“Although the breed and strain of sheep inﬂuences reproductive performance, the critical period in all breeds for lamb survival is in the ﬁrst few days after birth.
“A fox baiting program, especially in time with neighbours, is an effective way to reduce lamb losses from fox predation at the critical time during and after lambing,” he said.
“Any landholders wanting assistance with fox control and information on group baiting programs should contact their nearest Local Land Services office.”
Further information on the impact of foxes and fox control is available from the DPI website at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/pests-weeds/vertebrate-pests/pest-animals-in-nsw