Stock Management Areas

A guide to confinement feeding sheep and cattle in New South Wales
This publication was developed by Central Tablelands Local Land Services and aims to provide producers with best practise management protocols and recommendations when confinement feeding stock on farm. Hard copies are available at the Murray LLS office in Deniliquin.
Confinement feeding in Stock Management Areas (SMA) is a proactive management strategy that can be incorporated into on-farm drought management programs. When feed availability and ground cover reduce, livestock are confined to a smaller area of the property which helps maintain livestock production, increases productivity and importantly maintains ground cover across other parts of the property.

The Saving our Soils project is a $1 million partnership project lead by LLS, including ourselves, five other farming system groups and the Soil Knowledge Network. The project delivered workshops and demonstration sites, and provided follow-up design support for producers establishing stock management areas.

IFN has delivered a series of 4 workshops with SMA site visits across the Murray region. The days covered the benefits, pitfalls, planning, feed and animal welfare considerations and included a site tour of established SMA’s in Lindifferon, Bunnaloo, Bullatale and Conargo. As a result of this activity more than 90% of attendees surveyed indicated that they would be implementing changes to their stock management processes during drought.
Workshops and Demonstration Site Visits
As a part of the Australian Government's Future Drought Fund - Save our Soil Initiative, and led by Local Land Services, Irrigation Farmers Network, collaborated with farming systems groups Holbrook Landcare, Farmlink Research, Central West Farming Systems, Southern Growers and Riverine Plains to deliver workshops and demonstration site visits in 2023 - 2024
Direct and indirect benefits of confinement feeding
- Allows producers to maintain a productive flock or herd during drought enabling enterprises to still generate cash flow and recover more quickly after drought.
- Reducing grazing pressure by confining livestock to a smaller portion of the property, allows for the maintenance of ground cover and the associated benefit of reduced erosion.
- Reduces pasture damage/loss due to overgrazing and the significant costs involved in pasture re-establishment
- Increases productivity, confinement feeding of livestock reduces daily energy requirements by 10-15% as animals are not walking around larger paddocks looking for feed.
- Reduces the spread of introduced weed seeds in purchased grain or fodder
- Reduces labor and running costs (for example less time travelling when feeding in paddocks).
Other Benefits
The cost of establishing and maintaining confinement feeding areas can also be offset by other uses for these facilities that improve overall farm management including:

- Prior to or following a seasonal break to allow pasture to establish
- When there are potential issues with pastures being toxic at different growth stages
- For yard weaning and as a quarantine area
- To control livestock following a fire or other emergency and as holding areas when shearing or crutching, weighing stock or prior to transport
- As a hospital including sick or recovery pens
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This project received funding from the Australian Goverenment’s Future Drought Fund