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Developing a fire strategy for a grazing management plan

A fire strategy should be part of your grazing management plan. This will help you create opportunities to achieve the right frequency, timing and intensity of fire for a particular paddock.

Your fire strategy will also depend on local conditions such as average annual rainfall or the prevalence of undesirable plants and weeds.

When developing your fire strategy, consider:

  • the desired outcome for fire within the property and paddocks
  • the priority areas for burning (based on weed infestation and pasture composition)
  • the grazing areas to be burned annually (e.g. your aim may be to burn at least 10% of the property each year)
  • the fuel load (pasture yield) for the area to be burned (it should be sufficient for the desired result)
  • the ability to spell the burned area (to allow pasture regrowth and recovery)
  • contingency measures (ways to manage grazing if the burn does not produce the desired results and there is poor pasture regrowth)
  • ways to monitor land condition and even grazing distribution of the new pasture.

Managing risks when burning

The aim of a controlled burn is to encourage pasture regrowth; however, there is a risk of poor results. When this happens, there may be insufficient forage for livestock.

You can reduce the likelihood of poor results by burning after significant rainfall and when more rain is forecast. You should also have flexible grazing arrangements in place so you can reduce grazing pressure on the burned area until the regrowth is well established. It is best not to burn more than 40% of a property in any year.

Risk of toxic weeds after fire

Toxic weeds such as lantana are another risk after fire. The new growth can be more palatable yet poisonous to grazing animals. To prevent plant poisoning you should exclude stock from these areas until the pasture has grown and weeds are less palatable.

Find out more about managing weeds in Australia.

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