Getting kangaroos off the farm without fences or guns

Moving the maremma hotel

Moving the maremmas' home

Our farm shares kilometres of boundaries with state forest and, unfortunately, tonnes of its feed with hundreds of kangaroos and wallabies. While animal activists quote research carried out in semi-arid lands that found no competition between livestock and macropods, nothing could be further from the truth here.

The kangaroos and wallabies decimate luscious dairy pastures and crops. Last year, an oat crop adjoining the forest was cropped to just four inches high near the bush and grew to around a metre tall on the other (inner) side of the same paddock.

Our neighbours have installed massive fences in an attempt to keep the kangaroos and wallabies out, with mixed success. The other alternative is to shoot them and I do have a licence to cull 40. I haven’t used it because I hate the thought of it.

Instead, I’ve been looking at ways to deter them from the farm. A promising study used dingo urine but this seems to have come to a premature halt due to staffing issues. Many researchers have found ultrasonic deterrents ineffective.

I’m hoping we’ve found the solution. We’ve been bonding two maremma livestock guardian dogs, Charlie and Lola, to our calves and teaching them to respect the boundary fences. Fluffy white 35-kilogram bounders, these gentle dogs have a formidable bark and presence. They are also very protective of their “family” – us and the calves.

The only hitch to date has been getting them to roam far enough from their charges, so we’ve moved them and a couple of bovine mates to join a much larger mob living by the forest. Charlie was happy to go but Lola hung behind in her more familiar paddock. Fingers crossed they make the transition!

13 Comments

Filed under Environment, Farm, Random

13 responses to “Getting kangaroos off the farm without fences or guns

  1. dave AB man

    you have done a good job with this site well done

  2. That’s very interesting. Just today I was driving through our farm and noticed that we have had a recent increase of kangaroos. We have two types, a small grey variety, and a larger red variety. They never seem to mix and usually stick to their “patches”. We have a licensed shooter come through when the numbers are out of control, but we do not like to do this. I don’t know if a dog would help in our situation, but I’d be interested to hear your results.
    In the USA we use to hang stockings stuffed with human hair on fences to keep deer from eating our garden. I wonder if the same might repel a kangaroo?

    • milkmaidmarian

      Interesting idea! There are actually quite a few good ideas for small areas (flashing lights, suspended CDs, stinky sprays, etc). Not so many though for kilometres of forest boundary.

  3. Helmet police!

    Hi there,
    I love reading your blog and find it fantastic. Can I just ask what kind of helmet that person is wearing when he is towing the Marrema’s new home? To me, it looks like a push bike helmet rather than a proper motorbike/ATV helmet. I guess this is better than nothing but I think we all need to be responsible in promoting safety, wherever that is. I understood that bike helmets are make for people who ride bikes, not ATVs, and maybe this is some whizz bang new helmet, so sorry if it is. I don’t want to be negative but I, too, would hate to see someone injured purely because the helmet was “too hot” or “it covers my ears”, excuses we have been fed when we enforce helmet wear on our farm. We simply say wear it, or find somewhere else to work. Tough, but in their own interests.
    Keep up the great work,
    The Helmet Police!!!

    • milkmaidmarian

      What sharp eyes you have, Helmet Police! We use equestrian helmets with the blessing of Farmsafe, which says they’re fine for use off-road on quads at speeds of less than 50km/hr. As you may be aware, there is currently no Australian Standard for quad bike helmets (even though the Kiwis have one).

  4. Jude

    We have HUGE trouble with Roos as well. Land adjoining a wildlife sanctuary. At times there will be mobs of 70 – 100 (hard to count but it ranges). We can also apply for permit to cull but really in the end the number we are allowed to cull will not even make them batter an eyelid. The big ones can eat as much as a cow every day. It is heartbreaking at times. I’ll keep my eyes and ears out for more solutions. Cheers fellow dairy farmer

    • milkmaidmarian

      Good luck with it, Jude. I can understand the heartbreak – there’s nothing like trying to establish a new pasture or crop and seeing it disappear before you can graze it. The good news is that as our maremmas begin to range further and further from home, we are seeing a decrease in the number of roos!

  5. Keslin

    Hello. I’m having problems with kangaroos as well and I would like to know how are you going with your dogs. Do you have some new suggestion? Thanks Regards

  6. Cienwen Hickey

    I just wondered if any of the people who have made comment on here are aware of a scientific calculation called ‘Dry Sheep Equivalent (DSE)
    The number 1 is attributed to a dry ewe being the amount it will eat per day.
    A Kangaroo is 0.4
    A Rabbit is 0.8
    2 Rabbits eat as much as a full grown Kangaroo.
    a Steer is 16 which means it eats 16 times more than a sheep and 32 times more than a Kangaroo
    You can find this table on any Government website which deals with ‘how much do animals eat’
    Combine this information with the carrying capacity of your land and you will be able to see if Kangaroos are really eating too much grass.

    • Hi Cienwen,
      Unfortunately the research is generally based on studies in arid zones, a far cry from our own situation. Have a look at this: http://milkmaidmarian.com/2011/08/21/photographic-proof-that-kangaroos-compete-with-livestock/

      • Cienwen Hickey

        I had a look at the link you sent me but I was unable to find anything of significance because what you are showing is a crop of forage oats not a paddock which is grazed by cattle or sheep and I can’t see how the two compare. I am not saying that Macropods don’t damage crops and it’s fantastic to see you have used something other than a gun.
        This is from Saunders Veterinary Dictionary:
        dry sheep equivalent
        Top
        Home >Library >Animal Life >Veterinary Dictionary

        A unit of animal feed based on how much more or less feed each animal requires compared with that required by one dry (not lactating) sheep; abbreviated DSE. The same system can be used to estimate the nutritive value of a paddock of pasture or a shed full of hay. Based on the figure of a daily requirement for 7.2 megajoules of metabolizable energy for a 2-year-old dry sheep weighing 45 kg; e.g. a dairy cow milking 20 kg milk/day has a dry sheep equivalent of 23; a beef calf of 200 kg body weight has a DSE of 4.
        DSE as you can see is a means of measuring how much an animal eats, it has nothing to do with ‘arid zones’
        You may like to look at this also.

        http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/farm-business/budgets/livestock/sheep/background/dse

        • Hi Cienwen,

          Those oats were to be grazed by cattle! Shame they didn’t get to graze anything where the oats had been decimated by the macropods ahead of them.

          In my view, the figures you presented earlier tended to paint the picture that they have negligible impact, which as you can see from the pictures, is not the reality. They, together with government research in arid zones, are also numbers used by some animal activists to suggest that kangaroos and wallabies do not compete with cows.

          Statistics aside, the proof of the pudding is in the eating (pardon the pun).

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