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Top tips for stock containment areas

IN establishing stock containment areas (SCAs), Agriculture Victoria provides tips on the siting, design and construction.

A stock containment area (SCA) is a carefully selected, fenced section of the property which is set up to periodically hold, feed and water livestock.

They are primarily used to protect soil and pasture resources during adverse seasons such as after a fire, during droughts or late autumn breaks.

Siting

SCAs should be sited to minimise any environmental or amenity risk and to maximise animal welfare and production efficiencies.

There are number of factors that need to be considered when determining where your stock containment area should go.

If located within a Declared Water Supply Catchment the SCA should be sited 800 metres from a potable water supply, the take-off points or a bore supplying potable water.

Adequate setbacks from other waterways are required to minimise nutrient runoff risk

Adequate setback from neighbouring houses is necessary to mitigate dust and odour impacts, with consideration of the prevailing wind direction.

Adherence to planning requirements for fixed feeding infrastructure located within 100 metres of a dwelling not in the same ownership, waterway, residential zone or Urban Growth Zone is necessary.

SCAs are best sited on moderately sloping, well-drained, stable soils such as a clay or clay loam. 

Design/construction

Construction should be across the slope to align with the natural contour of the land and to avoid pen to pen drainage.

Stock should have access to existing shade and shelter.

Avoid areas with high value remnant vegetation.

Ensure access to good quality water.

Close proximity to handling facilities is also beneficial.

SCAs should be constructed and operated to enable efficient and effective livestock management.

An area of five square metres per sheep and 10 to15 square meters per beast for cattle is ideal. However, sheep producers have used between seven and 10 square metres per head successfully. The higher space allowances may be associated with larger sheep (eg. crossbred ewes).

Appropriate subdivision/number of yards to enable the separation of each class of stock, including shy feeders or sick animals

Protect any trees with guards if they are within the yards.

Feed areas should be located well away from water troughs to reduce feed fouling the water supply.

Remember, cool livestock will drink less and be less stressed, so its important adequate shade is provided. Use existing trees or ensure provision is made for establishing shelter belts.

Options for providing artificial shade and shelter include shade cloth, secured and fenced stacked hay bales, galvanised sheeting or custom-built commercial shelters.

Provide a minimum of 1.3 to 1.5 square metres of shade per sheep or enough shade for all of the animals to lie down /stand up in the hottest part of the day.

It’s also beneficial to have a grassy/treed buffer between each yard, which assists with wind protection and dust movement.