Research suggests wild dogs can benefit pasture growth

Beef Central, 12/12/2014

feral dogUniversity of Adelaide research suggests that stopping dingo control measures such as baiting and fencing could increase net profit for cattle grazing enterprises.

Published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, researchers from the University’s Environment Institute reported that cattle graziers could improve their profit margin by as much as 83 cents a hectare more by not baiting or fencing dingoes. That means an extra $83,000 per year for a 100,000 hectare cattle station.

“The conservation of dingoes remains controversial because of perceived threats to livestock,” says lead author Dr Thomas Prowse, Research Associate in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Environment Institute. “That is despite better understanding of the need for predators for sustainable environments.

“Our study challenges the conventional perception of dingoes as an economic pest that must be controlled. By helping dingoes thrive, we expect improved biomass of native pastures through the reduction of kangaroo populations – and improved returns to cattle graziers.

“Poisoning and fencing are therefore financially counter-productive.”

The researchers developed a multi-species model of the food chain and economics of a rangeland cattle enterprise, including simulations of pasture regrowth, grazing pressure and cattle live-weight gain. Trade-offs between livestock density, kangaroo abundance, calf losses and dingo control were examined.

“Dingoes are predators and they do occasionally take out young livestock, but they also eat a lot of kangaroos and, in fact, seem to prefer them,” says co-author Professor Corey Bradshaw, Director, Ecological Modelling at the Environment Institute and recently appointed Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change.

“In a typical cattle station setting in arid Australia, cattle and kangaroos compete for the most limiting resource – grass and other vegetation. With fewer kangaroos around, there is more grass for cattle to eat and more food means bigger and fatter cattle, which leads to more profit for the grazier.”

The researchers showed that under normal stocking conditions in outback Australia with unbaited dingoes and controlled kangaroos, pasture biomass increased by 53 kg a hectare.

“Not only are the grazier’s profits higher, but there is less inter-annual variation. Fewer kangaroos reduces the amount of change in grass biomass from one year to the next,” says Dr Prowse.

Source: University of Adelaide media release


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  1. Madonna Woodward, 18/12/2014

    I certainly hope all this feedback gets back to those idiots. I for one am sick to death of hearing about the myriad of ways our taxpayer dollars are being squandered while our farmers are suffering so badly and the best they get offered is another loan!

  2. Greg McPherson, 17/12/2014

    Perhaps the University of Adelaide’s research team could come and visit my place and present their research in the paddocks. I expect the nutrient addition would result in a significant increase in biomass.

  3. Paul Smith, 16/12/2014

    Ha Ha Ha !!! As a producer in the SA Rangelands, I was getting worried about facing another tough multi-facetted challenge to maintain viability this summer. (That’s right, its not just about wild dog control.) This has cheered me right up. Ho! Ho! Ho! and Merry Christmas everyone!
    “perceived” threat to livestock, stop it! I’ll get a stitch! Bahahaha. Too late!

  4. Eddie Streeter, 16/12/2014

    Has anybody told these people that kangaroos are quite a bit faster than lambs and calves and I would think would be a lot more tasty!! Dingo’s are not stupid.

  5. Ross.Mccorquodale, 16/12/2014

    I am a 4th generation animal farmer,a QLD one who can no longer run sheep and now lose calves to dogs,I spend much of my time for the last 50 years on dog control baiting ,shooting and trapping, in my area we are surrounded by National Parks and forests,It is Gov policy to breed Dingoes in NPs,If you want to see the end result of encouraged Dingo breeding go to Fraser Island,a Fauna disaster where the Dingo has eliminated everything else and is now starving and attacking humans,killing one child.This is what these academics are aiming for ,the elimination of all Farmed animals..If all the Koalas ,Goannas ,Lizards,Ground Birds go in the process too bad !!!

  6. John Gray, 15/12/2014

    I honestly can not really believe what I read above, It is quite clear these so-called researchers have NO real life experience in the topic of which they are trying to talk about, I have never heard so much bovine waste, someone please get these researchers a shovel to clean it up. Remember the old saying “Those who do never write ,and those who write never do”, Someone please take these research people out in to the real world and let them see dogs pull down young calves instead of chasing kangaroos,let them see a sheep still alive and dragging its guts along the ground after dog attack and then hand them the gun and let us see if they have the gumption to look that sheep in the eye and pull the trigger, I doubt that they would have what it took to do the job.
    The most insulting thing of the whole article is that it is our tax payers dollars that is paying the wages of these blithering idiots that are coming up with this garbage.
    And just for the record, I ‘m third generation on the land,I’ve seen dogs pull down calves and sheep and have had to pick up the gun and clean up the aftermath.

  7. donald brown, 15/12/2014

    I am lost for words

  8. bob caton, 15/12/2014

    where do these people come from and who pays them

  9. Phil Cook, 15/12/2014

    Can someone model how much better off the National Deficit would be if we got rid of these fools?

  10. Carina James, 15/12/2014

    Yes helen, do agree with you on the modelling…..
    More food does not mean bigger and fatter cattle – that would relate moreso to the nutritional content of the fodder in question – AND does not relate to profit either as there are many other factors involved with a cattle business.
    One dogbite on an Indo steer can be worse than a 50% reduction in value Bruce – No Tail No Sale!
    When the good Dr. Prowse has actually had to operate a cattle business (like I do ) and had some planet earth experience (not La La Land) the good Dr. may actually produce a productive piece of information, rather than the tripe reported above.

  11. bill nicholas, 15/12/2014

    what a waste of research money. did they interview anyone about this.

  12. Helen Armstrong, 15/12/2014

    Modelling, now where have I heard about that before, oh yes, catastrophic global warming where the models are hopeless at predicting well, anything at all..

    One problem with this wild dog theory is that it is assumed 100% of the biomass is used for stocking, when in fact it is much more like 10 to 14% – but lets work through this. An agile wallaby (By far the most prolific breeder) eats grass at the ratio of 7 wallabies to 1 cow. Stocking rates of wallabies on improved pasture are in the order of several hundreds to the km, natural numbers are around 20 to the km. How many dingoes would be required to eat the other 180 wallabies and their offspring? Let us say one wallaby per dog per week. Already we are looking at 3 – 4 dogs per km. My property is 1300 km, so I would require a dog population of 3,900 to control the agile wallaby.

    Given that dog populations of 50 over that area are sufficient to cause me losses of 17% in death and maiming across my herd, I can imagine what would be left after 3,900 dogs had their way.

    And it is not just calves, once dogs are in numbers, they pack, and start pulling down weaners and cows. It is the most awful way to die, being eaten alive.

    No, let the wallaby population be controlled by other means, hopefully not shot to waste, but if no viable other use is there, then so be it. Perhaps the good scientists would be better placed finding a commercial use for the wallaby carcasses and their byproducts.

    PS I speak from experience as a cattle manager in the arid lands, too.

  13. Bruce Collins, 15/12/2014

    Another theoretical study. Stiff cheddar if you run sheep and they do kill calves and bite a lot more. One dog bite and you have lost fifty percent of the value of that animal. Just give me full strength 1080 and I’ll be happy again.

  14. Johann Schröder, 15/12/2014

    “pseudo” !!

  15. Johann Schröder, 15/12/2014

    What a mischievous bit of pseuso-science! Predators will go for the easy prey first. Unless they are trained to do so, why would uncontrolled wild dogs and dingoes go for kangaroos instead of vulnerable livestock? If controlling excessive numbers of kangaroos with wild dogs / dingoes will work, let’s also stop controlling foxes – plenty of rabbits for them to eat !!!

  16. Ben lasker, 13/12/2014

    After reading your article this morning I went out and discovered my mob of killers were all but wiped out by a pack of dingoes overnight,so much for only eating kangaroos,these ones dont mind a bit of lamb!Buggered if I am going to be any more profitable from these pests.

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