You can prepare for changing weather and ensure your stock are well cared for with the use of a stock containment area.

Agriculture Victoria land management extension officer Clem Sturmfels said caring for stock during a drought or following bushfires or floods can be challenging, and a stock containment area (SCA) can help to minimise loss or illness and reduce farmer stress.

“A SCA is a small, fenced section of farm set up to hold, feed and water livestock,” Clem said.

“Typical pens measure 50 by 50 metres and hold approximately 500 sheep or 170 cattle and ensure stock have room to move around and spend time on their own.”

Clem said having animals close-by makes feeding, watering and management easier and more efficient.

An additional benefit of containing stock is that you can maintain ground cover across the rest of the property, protecting soils, water and pastures.

“It’s important that stock enter a SCA healthy and in good condition. They should be drenched, vaccinated, and conditioned to a grain-based diet,” he said.

“Diseases and health issues can spread quickly in containment, so regular inspection and monitoring is essential.

“Common issues such as acidosis and shy feeders need to be identified early, with affected stock being moved to a pen of their own.

“It’s vital stock have enough feed and supply of fresh water, plus shade during the hotter times of the day.

“A good understanding of the nutritional needs of different classes of stock is essential, along with a knowledge of the energy, roughage and protein mix of various feed sources.

“Siting and layout of a SCA involves thought and planning. Ideally, a SCA should be close to existing feed and stock handling facilities, and away from houses, waterways, and dams.

“Consider what feeding system you plan to use as this will impact the pen design and layout.

“Check with your local council planning officer before starting construction as a planning permit may be required in some situations.”

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