Farm Guide VIC : 2008 - 2009
72 Pest Animal Control Technology Advances The old chicken and rabbit wire fences, commonly seen stretching across sandy tracts of desert, often used up to three different types of wire, in layers, to increase the effectiveness of the fence. However the hinge joints and the thin wire meant that animals were able to push or bite their way through the barrier with little effort. The time and expense spent on the construction of the fence then paled in comparison to the thousands of man hours and materials required to monitor and repair holes. The recent development of new pre-fabricated wire products with rigid pickets and concealed wire ends has the potential to vastly reduce the amount of time to erect a fence, while the new wire knotting technology provides a stronger barrier to even the most persistent ferals. The line wires and picket spacing in the pre-fabricated wire products are also being trialled as a way to avoid sand-build up along the fence line, thus effectively reducing the height of the fence and its power as a barrier. Advances in wire coating technology have also meant a reduction in the effects of corrosion giving the wire a longer useful life. Wooden fence posts have traditionally been used as a cheaper, more readily available option. Longer, stronger steel posts are now an option for many, giving greater stability in the shifting desert stands and occasional flooding, and again employing a corrosion resistant coating, improving the performance of steel in harsh inland conditions. Case Study – the Dog Fence The 600 kilometres of fence line controlled by the Wild Dog Destruction Board commands the careers of 15 people and a budget this year of $1.5million dollars. Built in the 1880s as a rabbit fence, then converted in 1917 to a dog fence, it is currently under the watchful eye of Tony Mayo, Operations Manager of the Dog Fence. Based in Smithville, 250 kilometres north of Broken Hill, Tony and his team of 14, including leading hands, boundary riders and grader operators maintain the fence to keep dogs out of the multi-million dollar pastoral industry in the Western Division of New South Wales. “Traditionally the fence has been constructed with netting at a height of six feet, or 1.8 metres,” Tony says, “but the decline Article kindly provided by One Steel. in good quality netting has meant that we are on the look out for a suitable alternative. “The netting requires a high level of maintenance as the animals push or bite holes in it, and sand builds up against the base of the fence. “We have recently commenced a trial with a new product on the market called StockSafe-T, which we hope will alleviate both these pressures and result in a far more efficient fence. “The design of this new fence is much sturdier than netting and the wires are a thicker diameter, so far has a lot going for it, so we will wait and see.” A length of 50 metres of the trial fence has been constructed on the SA / NSW border, and another 50 metre section has been built on the SA / QLD border. Tony and his team have been monitoring the fence over the windiest part of the year, September through to December, to see how it performs. So far trials have been successful, with sand build up on the fence being reduced due to larger openings in the StockSafe-T. There is an added advantage of less turnip weed and buck bush build up on the fence. Whilst the initial price of StockSafe-T is less than netting, the real savings are in the installation, with labour costs drastically reduced. “Additional trials are being carried out with different heights and combinations of StockSafe-T and netting and these new products along with the new MaxY star posts could be the way forward for the Wild Dog Destruction Board,” Tony said. “Fencing is just part of the mix of effective pest animal control that includes trapping, baiting and shooting, but fences are the first line of defence. “Baiting and trapping will not do what a fence does, which is present an impenetrable boundary, so the fence really is the key which holds it all together.” Tony anticipates that the Wild Dog Destruction Board will make a decision on the future of the fence in early 2008.
2009 - 2010