One of Australia’s leading agricultural innovators, Bruce Maynard, recently travelled to Western Australia, sharing his knowledge with farmers and industry stakeholders in Wandering, Mandurah, and Calingiri. The three events focused on Stress-Free Stockmanship – a practice that Bruce has pioneered over the last 30 years.
Bruce acknowledged those who have paved the path for the development of Stress-Free Stockmanship, including Temple Grandin, Bud Williams, Dean Revell, and Fred Provenza, and highlighted it’s evolution over time thanks to new research and theories. It was emphasized that the practice is more complex than ‘right and wrong’, with several influencing components including animal behaviour, the difference between ‘choice’ and ‘force’, and animal habits. The goal with Stress-Free Stockmanship is to replace a habit, not just break one.
Further to this, Bruce described how desensitizing is different to resilience. Desensitization can be described as exposing an animal to stress through increased force resulting in compliance. Resilience, however, is the process of slowly increasing an animal’s exposure to stress while also allowing time to recover, resulting in improved reaction and behaviour towards the stressor. Pressure and flight zones vary animal to animal and will be context-specific – for example, sheep will react differently in the paddock versus when they’re in the yards.
Additionally, Bruce discussed various ways a farmer can improve or change an animal’s behaviour such as offering rewards and considering the timing and animal’s frame of mind, and nutrient-drive. A variety of rewards increases an animals’ interest and curiosity, which boosts their learning and behaviour change exponentially – for example, alternating between hay, oats or molasses to incentivize stock to enter the yards.
The Mandurah and Calingiri events also provided participants with the great opportunity to get out into the yard and paddock with cattle and put the Stress-Free Stockmanship principles into practice, with Bruce Maynard on hand to offer guidance and answer questions.
A huge thanks to Bruce for coming to WA and sharing his wealth of knowledge and to the property owners who provided the venue to host these events.
These events were supported by the WA Regenerative Livestock Producers Inc, Lotterywest, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation through their Soil Wise Program, Wheatbelt NRM, Peel Harvey Catchment Council, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Northern Agricultural Catchments Council.
Soil Wise is funded by the National Landcare Program Smart Farms Small Grants – an Australian Government initiative. It is supported by Healthy Estuaries WA – a State Government program.
Missed the event, but want to know more about Stress-Free Stockmanship? Check out our recent webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugUhdRyz55w
Sign up to RegenWA to receive our newsletter, learn about upcoming events and hear the latest news here: https://www.regenwa.com/about-us/how-to-get-involved/