The extended dry period has thrown up many challenges to land managers, in particular those with livestock. Besides the lack of feed, low water levels in farm dams pose a serious risk to livestock safety and health.
Dams are built with mud – with clay used to line the walls and keep water in. This can become a sticky trap for livestock. As water levels drop, more mud is exposed and livestock have all four legs in it to get a drink.
Dominant individuals can also force others to drink from increasingly unsafe edges and the increased activity in muddy layers can create a quagmire and potential death trap. Stuck animals tire quickly and can die before you notice them.
What can be done?
Be proactive. Assess all dams to determine which may be unsafe.
Check your stock regularly.
If you are unable to regularly inspect risky dams, set up alternate water or discontinue using those paddocks.
In the long-term consider piping water to troughs instead. Such systems can also aid in the control of other problems (such as diseases like liver fluke).
Talk to Local Land Services about your eligibility for funding through one of its natural resource management programs. Programs may be able to assist landholders with the purchase of fencing materials and alternate water infrastructure.
Consider selling or agisting stock if feed or water levels are critically low.
Seek expert advice if you are in doubt about any of these points. You can speak to Local Land Services at 42 Ryrie Street or call 48422594.