The Central and North Burnett Times reported on the dung beetle workshop that was presented by BCCA last week.
Bush flies: how irritating they can be! For livestock, the equivalent is the dreaded buffalo fly which can produce sores and stress which, for beef cattle, results in approximately a production loss of 15kg per animal over a 100 day period with a moderate infestation of 200 buffalo flies per beast.
This equates to a weight loss of 150 grams per head per day valued $2.20/kg or $33 per head in a 3 month season. Added to this is the loss in value of the hide which can be damaged by sores.
If you’re not wrapped in the idea of chemical treatments for buffalo fly, you’re not alone. Dung beetles aren’t either. Many chemicals used in the treatment of buffalo fly are excreted from cattle in the dung and are harmful to dung beetles, who wait to digest the product.
Most graziers are aware that dung beetles are beneficial, but how and why?
John Feehan travelled from Canberra to speak to a group of graziers at two workshops held in last week. Mr Feehan has more than 30 years experience working with dung beetles with CSIRO and his business and came to the central Burnett share his knowledge with our local producers on behalf of BCCA. Two workshops were held, in Gayndah and on a property out of Eidsvold and both workshops involved a presentation from Mr Feehan about the dung beetles and then a trip to the cow pat in the paddock to overturn some dung and search for the beetles.
Participants to both Thursday’s and Friday’s workshops came away with the knowledge of what dung beetles can do to decrease their buffalo fly numbers and improve the soil condition beneath the dung, but also how to find the beetles on their property and how to ensure that they can keep coming back. One landholder commented, “John is really passionate about these dung beetles; he’s like the ‘poo whisperer’”.
During November to March, dung beetle colonies are available for purchase and introduction to a paddock, and 12 producers who attended the workshops were offered this service through Mr Feehan. This was made possible thanks to funding through the Australian Government’s Caring For Our Country program and Burnett Mary Regional Group’s Better Catchments program.