Self herding trial progresses at Victoria River Research Station

A self herding trial at Victoria River Research Station is showing early promise, with research cattle grazing in traditionally underutilised areas.

The trial, which commenced in July 2018, aims to demonstrate that self herding techniques can be used to modify grazing patterns in paddocks, subsequently creating a form of rotational grazing which does not rely on permanent fencing.

Self herding is a livestock management approach that uses positive reinforcement, such as food rewards at a portable attractant station, to influence grazing behaviour.

GPS collars were fitted to ten of the herd’s heifers as part of the study. Initially, the cattle demonstrated a strong attraction to historically overgrazed areas. When the attractant station was introduced, cattle were drawn to graze in new areas.

“Now that we are into week 19 of the trial, overall observations to date indicate that the techniques have been able to draw cattle into areas that they have traditionally not used very much,” project leader Dionne Walsh said.

Researchers presented on the trial at the Territory Natural Resource Management conference in Darwin last week.

The project is supported by Meat Livestock Australia, and is a collaboration between the Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Revell Science, Stress Free Stockmanship, Territory Natural Resource Management, Rangelands Natural Resource Management and Oxley Grazing. It will conclude in mid-2019.

Craig Maxwell delivers pellets to an attractant station as part of the self herding trial at Victoria River Research Station
Craig Maxwell delivers pellets to the attractant station as part of the self herding trial at Victoria River Research Station.