Self herding in the centre

By Meg Humphrys

Self herding is a livestock management approach that uses positive reinforcement to influence grazing behaviour and encourage cattle to move into underutilised areas of paddocks but also has many other applications.

The Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR) hosted Bruce Maynard, a passionate farmer and co-developer of the Maynard and Revell self-herding and self-shepherding management practice, in Alice Springs from Monday 29 July – Friday 2 August.

Bruce’s visit to Central Australia provided an excellent opportunity for:

  • a producer workshop
  • collaboration with local researchers about integration of self-herding into Central Australian pastoral systems and
  • a visit to Lyndavale cattle station.

Self herding workshop

On Tuesday 30 July, Bruce conducted a two hour workshop at Alice Springs Desert Park where participants were introduced to the concept of self-herding.

Bruce encourages producers to use high level stockmanship and low stress handling practices, demonstrating the positive effects of cattle choosing to be involved in their own management, rather than being forced to participate.

“Bruce emphasised that animals need to learn how to adapt, so that when they are confined in yards, being trucked, placed in a feedlot or facing unfamiliar situations such as dry times, they are more resilient,” said Meg Humphrys, Pastoral Extension Officer.

A combination of familiarity and diversity in cattle management are the take home messages from Bruce’s sessions.

Lyndavale cattle station

A small producer group workshop was also coordinated at Lyndavale cattle station south of Alice Springs, with a focus on producer needs and how self-herding can inform them. Some of the potential benefits to producers in the region discussed were:

  • encouraging cattle to stay at new watering points
  • wild dog management
  • feral camel management
  • maintaining weight on cattle during transportation
  • weaner training.

There was great enthusiasm for the discussions had at Lyndavale and the self-herding applications it would be great to see Bruce back in Central Australia again soon.

Get involved

Low stress stock handling course

There are tentative plans for Bruce to return to Alice Springs later in the year to run a level 3 low stress stock handling course and work with local producers to integrate self-herding tools into management. These are dependent on level of interest.

The course costs approximately $650. Please contact Meg Humphrys (contact details below) for more information.

Producer demonstration sites

Producer demonstration sites are Meat Livestock Australia (MLA) funded extension programs to encourage producers to learn from each other and trial on-farm benefits to cattle management tools. The last one in Central Australia was the Steer Challenge, which compared the performance of steers from ten different breeds and crossbreeds under land management recommendations.

Would you be interested in being involved in a project demonstration with a focus on self-herding applications? A small forum would be established for producers to share experiences, challenges and results in trialling self-herding methods.

Please contact Meg Humphrys, DPIR Pastoral Extension Officer to register your interest by Friday 30 August.

Phone: 0427 373 011


Useful resources for producers

Last updated: 28 September 2020

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