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4 May, 2022

Sheep to clean up river banks

SHEEP will soon be grazing along the banks of the Barron River and Granite Creek at Mareeba as part of a trial aimed at reducing unwanted vegetation in the area.

By Robyn Holmes

SHEEP will soon be grazing along the banks of the Barron River and Granite Creek at Mareeba as part of a trial aimed at reducing unwanted vegetation in the area.

The bold idea was raised by Mareeba Shire Council officers after they became aware of the use of goats in Canberra to successfully manage undesirable vegetation like blackberry, willow and other species.

Officers believe the sheep could be the answer to containing and managing vegetation along the “esplanades” of both water courses as part of council’s fire mitigation program.

“Due to the steep embankments and undulating ground along parts of the Barron River and Granite Creek esplanades, any kind of maintenance activity has been very difficult and expensive,” ???? said.

With controlled burning not an option due to the proximity of residences, council has had to tackle the overgrown vegetation by using an excavator and mulching attachment.

“However, the operation is expensive and is not ideal as not all areas can be reached,” shsjdjdf said.

The proposal sparked a bit of laughter at the council meeting, as they discussed who would be looking after the sheep.

“The shepherd Harvey will be watching over them,” development and governance manager Anthony Archie told council.

After learning of the success of using goats to manage difficult areas where vegetation needs to be controlled, officers approached sheep owner Harvey Douglas to see whether he would be interested in taking part in the trial.

Mr Douglas has a flock of around 120 head at his Walkamin property.

According to the council, Mr Douglas has been building the herd for a few years, moving them around various parcels of land for them to graze on.

He has been leasing various parcels of land on the Tablelands to run his herd, but as the number of sheep increase, he was seeking more parcels to graze on.

Mr Douglas’ herd are “self-shedding sheep” which are suited to the harsher Far North Queensland environment by shedding their coat which makes them very low maintenance and relatively easy to manage.

Council was told the trial should begin this month after Mr Douglas obtains the required ear tags for each sheep.

“In order to transport the herd between parcels of land, each sheep requires a tag under National Livestock Identification System for identification and traceability,” a report to council stated.

“The operator has confirmed an order for tags has been placed however there is a 3-6 week wait on supply.”

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