Comparison of rotational grazing and continuous grazing on native pastures using a moving water point: preliminary results from Idracowra Station

Comparison of rotational grazing and continuous grazing on native pastures using a moving water point: preliminary results from Idracowra Station Report

  • Author(s): Kain, A.J.
  • Published: 2008
  • Publisher: Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry, Fisheries and Mines; and Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre

Abstract: There has been widespread interest by the industry in spelling practices, which hold out the potential for increased production without damage to natural resources, and may lead to sustained production with recovery of the natural resources. The benefits of rotational grazing in the semi arid rangelands have been little documented and it is therefore difficult for managers to commit to these new grazing strategies. Cost of intensive infrastructure and increased management input is often prohibitively expensive when considering alternative grazing strategies. The trial at Idracowra Station, 180km south-south-west of Alice Springs, incorporated rest from grazing by moving a water point through the paddock. The hypothesis was that as pastures became remote from water they would be spelled from grazing without the need for fences. The moving water treatment was compared with continuously grazed watering points. Both the treatment and control paddocks are dominated by native pastures. The study aimed to test the hypotheses that it is possible to train cattle to move around a paddock by shifting a water point. The study also aimed to test the hypotheses that rotational grazing will result in more even utilisation of pasture, maintain land condition and improve animal productivity. Unfortunately, only one year into the trial, Idracowra Station was sold and the trial was prematurely concluded. Whilst there is no data available to support the hypotheses, the author felt that there was anecdotal information of interest. The manager found that the majority of the herd could manage to follow the watering point if it was only moved 500m at a time and that whilst cattle were grazing less favoured country immediately adjacent to the watering point, opportunistic observations noted that they were still walking in excess of 5km to access more favoured pastures. One of the most important elements to arise from this trial is the comparison of actual stocking rates with forage budget recommendations. While the manager felt that the cattle on the moving water pipeline were performing better than those in the continuously grazed system, this may have been attributable to the lower stocking rate of the treatment compared with the control. The moving water principle still deserves to be trialled in central Australia but realistic and safe estimates of carrying capacity are required in order to accurately assess the economic return that such a system is likely to generate in the long term. This trial was conducted in association with studies on Mt Riddock station and Old Man Plains.

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Suggested Citation
Kain, A.J., 2008, Comparison of rotational grazing and continuous grazing on native pastures using a moving water point: preliminary results from Idracowra Station, Report, viewed 12 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=2993.

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