Positive results for Cogoon cluster

South West producers Tim and Jo Caskey are already reaping the benefits of the ‘Cogoon Cluster’ exclusion fence, with 3,200 hectares (7,900 acres) of land on their mixed enterprise re-opened for use in grazing goats.

The Caskey’s run a total 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) across ‘Avalon’ and ‘Budgeri’ near Mitchell in Queensland and have had 15 kilometres of fencing installed as part of the ‘Cogoon’ project which aims to allow local producers to collaboratively fight against pests and diseases.

The 1.8 metre-high exclusion fence, fitted with netting and an apron which extends out from the bottom of the fence, is designed to stop the kangaroos from bouncing over the top and the wild dogs from burrowing underneath.

Over the last decade the Caskey’s operation has been devastated by wild dog attacks, and inundated with thousands of kangaroos and wallabies.

“During this period of time wild dogs alone have cost us $50,000 per year in lost production across our sheep, goat and cattle enterprises,” Mr Caskey said.

About 10 years ago before the influx of dogs, the Caskey’s ran up to 3,000 Dorper ewes, and at times up to 17,000 mixed goats and 1,500 head of mixed cattle.

“We still have similar numbers of cattle despite losing calves to dogs over the years, but we currently have no sheep and only about 1,500 goats in the paddocks close to the house,” Mr Caskey said.

“Regrowth on the property is also becoming an issue, without adequate goat numbers here to keep it down.”

All these factors combined with similar issues faced by surrounding landholders, resulted in the formation of the ‘Cogoon’ Cluster, with support from South West Natural Resource Management (NRM) Ltd.

South West NRM is a community-based organisation and the designated regional body for natural resource management in South West Queensland.

South West NRM have provided funding for 50 per cent of the Waratah fencing material cost, which equates to about $6,175 per ha.

The Cluster which is made up of eight landholders, plus fencing contractors, is funding the remainder of the material, and all of the labour costs.

Work on the exclusion fence started in March 2017, and approximately 55 kilometres of fence-line have already been installed. There’s still 80kms to be erected, which is due to be completed by October 2017 according to Mr Caskey.

“We’re tracking pretty well and completion by October looks likely,” he said.

“This has been made possible by the fantastic support of the South West NRM, as well as tireless efforts from our highly dedicated team of landholders and contractors.

“The Waratah products have also made the whole process to date, very efficient. The equipment is easy to use in hard or soft country, and as a result we’re making very good time, installing at least two kilometres of fence per day.”

This story was first published in The Fence magazine.

Image: Queensland producer Tim Caskey

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