Murchison stations trial self-herding techniques to promote land productivity

Pastoralists Ashley and Debbie Dowden of Challa Station and Andrew and Nok Edhouse of Wogarno Station are trialling innovative self-herding techniques to develop their understanding of cattle behaviour and enhance land productivity.

Challa Station cattleThe trials are supported by Rangelands NRM with funding from the Australian Government National Landcare Programme. 

Rangelands NRM Regional Landcare Facilitator Kane Watson says the trials will cover approximately 20,300ha (300ha in Wogarno and 20,000ha in Challa) and is an example of how Rangelands NRM is working with producers to improve practices which increase productivity, generate economic returns and sustain the natural resource base of the WA rangelands.

“As part of the Rangelands Fibre and Produce Association, the pastoralists are aiming to improve the knowledge base for the Mt Magnet area and will be sharing their findings with others, particularly in rangelands self-herding,” he said.

Andrew Edhouse says the trials at Wogana include introducing a different breed of domestic goats to assist herding the wild ones on the property as well as introducing routine attractants and licks. 

Wogarno station goats“The introduced Boer goats have taken time to settle in but from observations they are assisting in herding the larger group,” she said.

“The trials aim to help us enhance land productivity by creating a wider distribution of grazing and minimise the effects of patch grazing.”

Mr Edhouse says the trial is being assisted by new wild dog exclusion fencing which is having the added benefit of grazing pressure reduction from kangaroos. 

“The fencing was completed at Christmas time and the pony cubes are working as great attractants. There will now be ongoing monitoring of the trial areas,” he said.

In related efforts to better manage grazing pressure and improve land health, Ashley and Debbie Dowden at Challa Station are also trialling telemetry units that monitor the water level in tanks. 

“With the ability to remotely monitor tank levels at watering points we can get a general indication of how many cattle are watering at a particular point in time,” explained Mrs Dowden.

“This, along with the self-herding technique trial is building our understanding of the cattle,” she said.

Mr Watson said the trial also has linkages to the upcoming ‘BEHAVE’ livestock behaviour workshops that will build the skills and capacity of key group leaders in the southern rangelands to improve grazing and land management practices. 

“The participants in this trial will continue exploring and sharing the lessons from the self-herding techniques they have employed and build on them through the upcoming rangelands self-herding workshop,” he said.

For more information contact Kane Watson, Rangelands NRM Regional Landcare Facilitator