Dingos could increase profit margin for farmers

Jarrod Amoora/Wikimedia Commons

Late last year, Environment Institute researchers Dr Thomas Prowse and Prof. Corey Bradshaw published research that indicated that Dingos had been wrongly blamed for mainland marsupial extinctions.

Now the same group, along with A/Prof Phill Cassey, show that despite the conventional perception of Dingos as a pest that needs to be controlled, Dingos could actually bring economic benefit to cattle graziers.

The benefit is nothing to sneeze at either. Models as part of research published in The Journal of Applied Ecology show that the profit margin could be improved by as much as $83 000 a year for a 100 000 hectare cattle station.

So where does this profit come from?

Dr Thomas Prowse explains: “Our study challenges the conventional perception of dingoes as an economic pest that must be controlled. By helping dingoes thrive, we expect improved biomass of native pastures through the reduction of kangaroo populations – and improved returns to cattle graziers.”

“Poisoning and fencing are therefore financially counter-productive.”

The researchers developed a multi-species model of the food chain and economics of a rangeland cattle enterprise, including simulations of pasture regrowth, grazing pressure and cattle live-weight gain. Trade-offs between livestock density, kangaroo abundance, calf losses and dingo control were examined. Because as we all know-Dingo’s are a threat to livestock, right?

“Dingoes are predators and they do occasionally take out young livestock, but they also eat a lot of kangaroos and, in fact, seem to prefer them,” says co-author Professor Corey Bradshaw, who was recently appointed Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change.

“In a typical cattle station setting in arid Australia, cattle and kangaroos compete for the most limiting resource – grass and other vegetation. With fewer kangaroos around, there is more grass for cattle to eat and more food means bigger and fatter cattle, which leads to more profit for the grazier.”

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