Saving Our Soils – Stock Management Areas

Mob of sheep in a dry grass paddock with scattered paddock trees in the background

As producers we balance livestock production, business growth and stability, with landscape resilience and sustainability on a daily basis. Traditionally, production stressors such as drought, fire and flood often have us considering selling or agisting livestock as a way of reducing grazing pressure from vulnerable landscapes. These decisions can be costly and challenging, with extensive short and long-term economic and strategic repercussions on our businesses.

A solution which some producers have been trialling is the use of Stock Management Areas. These areas, interchangeably known as Stock Containment Sites or Drought lots, are tools which, if existing or viable on your property, can assist in protecting valuable on farm assets, like soils and perennial pastures.

So why Saving our Soils?

Our soils support our enterprises from the ground up – literally. It’s slow to form and can be rapidly eroded by reduced ground cover often due to overgrazing. During drought decisions surrounding the retention of stock, and implication for post-drought recovery are at the forefront of our minds. How do we balance protecting on-farm natural assets during drought, while ensuring fast return to business stability and growth post drought? This is where the Saving our Soils Project stems from.

Small mob of cattle in a dry grass paddock during drought

The Project

The Saving our Soils – Stock Management Areas Project is coordinating local farm visits and workshops on how Stock Management Areas can work in your farm enterprise. We can work with you on:

  • The design, set up and ongoing management of a Stock Management Area on your farm
  • How to maximise return on your investment in a Stock Management Area
  • Managing the health and nutrition of livestock in confinement
  • Deciding how and when to transition livestock into and out of confinement.

Project Resources

Included in this Project, Local Land Services has worked closely with experts in Livestock Feeding, Geoff Duddy, Jeff House and Brett Littler, and Veterinary professionals, Dr. Jess Bourke and Dr. Ralph Kuhne to produce the 2023, A Guide to Confinement Feeding Sheep and Cattle In NSW.

Other resources directly related to the Saving Our Soils Project will be linked here.

Demonstration Site

Watch this space for information on our Jugiong Demonstration Site.

Click here to read the 2023 Local Land Service SMA Manual for landholders

Have you got a minute?

We’d love your insight on the use and concerns of stock management areas…

Workshop Events

Making Stock Management Areas Manageable

Cattle Workshop with Greg Meaker (former DPI Livestock Officer) & Tanisha Shields (Agrista) [Tuesday 6th June 2023]
A group of people in a paddock standing next to a water trough

Making Stock Management Areas Manageable

Sheep Workshop with Greg Meaker (former DPI Livestock Officer) & Tanisha Shields (Agrista) [Monday 11th September 2023]
A group of people in a stock containment area looking at a trough

Strategic Feed Budgeting for Sheep Containment

Enhancing Feed Budgeting Proficiency for Ewes and Lambs with Jim Meckiff (JM Livestock) [Thursday 23rd November 2023]

Other Resources

Agriculture Victoria. (2018). Sheep Drought Feeding Guide. State of Victoria Government Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.

Andrews, T. & Littler, B. (2019). Confinement Feeding Stock. NSW Government, Department of Primary Industries.

Australian Wool Innovation. (2019). Releasing Sheep from containment feeding. Australian Wool Innovation.

Department of Primary Industries. (n. d.).  Drought and Supplementary Feed Calculator. NSW Government Department of Primary Industries. 

MLA. (2020). What to consider before containment feeding. Meat and Livestock Australia.

Robertson, S. (2020). Managing Breeding Ewes in Containment Areas, A Guide for Producers.  Meat and Livestock Australia.,35ON,HSIAO,AG6M,1

This project is lead by the NSW Local Land Services, in partnership with The Southern NSW Drought Innovation Hub, Holbrook Landcare Network, Irrigated Cropping Council, FarmLink Research, Central West Farming Systems, Southern Growers, Riverine Plains, Soil Knowledge Network, and Charles Sturt University.

This Project is funded through the Federal Government’s Future Drought Fund (FDF) Drought Resilient Soils and Landscapes (DRSL) Grants Program.