Domestic Animals on the Range

Contents


General Comments

Domestic animals are brought onto the range by us for companionship, food or fun. The local predators and parasites like dingoes, pythons and ticks take a different view of the matter. They view such additions to their environment exclusively as a food source and act accordingly. You should seriously consider whether you are prepared for the additional effort that domestic animals require, and the possible heartbreak of losing a favourite animal to ticks, pythons or dingoes. (It is not that unusual to hear of a cat, dog, or chook gone missing usually preyed upon, resulting in death.)

In addition to their being preyed upon, some domestic animals are predators themselves and owners have a responsibility to keep animals on their own property. Many pet-owners are responsible, however the few who are not make life very difficult for all.

Council Local Law No. 2

The Moreton Bay Regional Council Local Law No. 2 (Animal Management) 2011 requires that all domestic animals (including cats and dogs) must have a proper enclosure and be restrained to their own property at all times. These animals must be kept from creating a nuisance this includes defecating on other people's property, making excessive noise (e.g. barking to such an extent that disturbs other residents), chasing or acting aggressively towards another person or animal, and being walked without a lead.

Dogs over the age of three months are required to be registered annually with the Council. The registered dog must wear a collar or chain with the yellow registration tag attached. Cats are limited to two per household although application may be made for up to four.

The Local Law provides for the de-registration and removal of a dog from the district where it has consistently been allowed to act as a nuisance. Impounded cats and dogs will be held at the Council's Pound and release fees apply.

For further information or reporting of problems contact the Council, Ph: 3205 0555.


Fowls (chooks)

Handy hints (Chris Leonard)

Living as we do "in the bush", we all seem to go through the same learning curve regarding the new challenges we have to meet, bushfire safety, gardening and weed control, water collection and reticulation,fencing, animal and livestock management plus the use and maintenance of things like brush cutters, chainsaws, pumps etc.

Don't you wish you had a Rod Nicklin type who you could consult to get all "the right clues"? I hope that this ["Handy Hints" column in the Mountain News] may become a forum where members of the community will contribute practical advice which will then become shared by everyone.

Fresh eggs.Most people coming to the Mountain have a desire to keep an animal and I can't think of anything more appropriate than chickens. Chooks are relatively simple to keep and in return provide eggs, meat (if you are so inclined!), manure and with their superb scratching ability, a tractor system which can be used to good effect.

The coop.Step one is to build your coop first before you get the chickens. There are many predators waiting for you to bring your new charges home so it is critical that the roost area be built securely and able to exclude carpet snakes (number one enemy), dingoes, goannas, dogs, cats and foxes. True free range, I have found, does not work up here and if it isn't predators on the ground it will be those from the air which will get your birds.

The run needs to be fully enclosed with ideally small bird wire to exclude snakes and should have something solid like roofing iron sheets standing on their sides and buried 4" - 6" deep into the ground to deter dogs or other large predators from pushing through or digging under what would otherwise just be wire. Your run design should allow a minimum of 1.5 square metres per bird and ensure adequate shade for hot sunny days.

The birds need to be locked up every evening in the roost area and given access back to the run in the morning. An ideal job for the kids. The next thing to free-range is the deep litter system with the run becoming your compost area. This creates an ideal situation which will benefit both you and the birds. You may be familiar with bare dirt runs which are like concrete in summer and mud baths when wet. This situation is unhealthy for your flock.

Spread a layer of any organic material such as sawdust, straw, weeds etc. initially about 150 mm deep throughout the entire coop, continually add to it and you will be assured of a constant and perfect compost supply for your garden. This has little or no smell and attracts no flies.

Which birds? The choice of breed is varied. [CHRIS TO SUMMARISE BREEDS FOR HERE - AND GIVE INFO ON WHERE TO BUY PULLETS]

For the average household 4 - 6 birds are sufficient and this would probably give you extra eggs to swap with friends.

Although initially more expensive, start with point-of-lay pullets. Feed costs will be your largest expense. So unless you want the experience, it is not economic to raise them from chicks. All of our food scraps are put into the run so we don't have problems with flies as in many conventional compost bins. Birds cannot exist on food scraps alone so it is important that they have unlimited access to either pellets or coarse grain mix kept in a feeder which the birds can't spill or scratch the feed from.

For healthy birds it is important that they be given fresh water every day. I have found the ideal drinker to be the "D" shaped ones with an automatic float which are popular with horse owners. Make sure you get the black Poly type which have a drain plug in the base of them. If they are mounted approximately 8" off the ground, you won't have any problems with birds scratching dirt etc into it. Green pick is also a necessity and may comprise fresh lawn clippings, weeds, lettuce and grass. Hang them in a wire basket which allows the hens to peck without trampling it underfoot.


The above article in Mountain News led to the following letter.

"To- Handy Hints C'O Mountain News

Dear Chris,

wen my dad Lived at browns farm he had sum chooks and they lived in the chook run. They got lice wot looked like termites running round under the fethers. One day grampa brought dad sum rootsters from a failed speriment at University. Dad put them in the chook run and wen he came back that afternoon they wer trying to kill each other. So dad spent the evenin turning em into roasts and coodnt get the wet fether smell off his fingers for days.

then wen he moved into this house he made a chook run and a chook house out of an old tank. A flood knocked over the fence, then a snake ate one of the hens in the old tank and the rest of em moved onto a pile of slabs under our house. Dad used to get so cross about the snakes eatin the chooks while they were sleeping and pooing on the slabs that one nite he even pulled a squashed chook out of the snakes mouth and made it into a roast too. Dad went to sleep with that fethers smell on his hands and the snake went to sleep in a heshin sak with fethers smell in its mouth.

then dad gave away the chooks but he kept findin eggs for months afer anyway. Now we has no chooks so we have to eat the scraps ourselves. Dus this meen wen I grow up I will be a vegan like our frend Eileen? Love from Jasper Teakle age 2 weeks.

PS Myke downt make this into a powim."

[Ed: Jasper is referring to a previous contribution to Mountain News where a prose contribution by a regular poet was submitted on computer disk. There were hard returns at the end of each line and these were followed in printing by the editor, Mike Stasse, with results reminiscent of the anarchic Dada poets].


Cats

Cats (John Ravenscroft, Mountain News July 1992)

Article supplied by It is an undoubted fact that cats pose a significant threat to our native wildlife. With cats being kept in over 30% of Australian households it is estimated that millions of individual animals from over 200 known native species are being killed each year throughout Australia.

Both domestic and feral cats alike are responsible for this slaughter of our wild life, with the large amount of domestic cats providing a continual addition to the feral population. This is especially true in areas such as Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious where the many varied native species of wildlife live in close proximity to large numbers of cats from the surrounding suburbia. Ring-tail possums, bandicoots, native rats and mice together with many different birds and reptiles fall prey to cats in this area.

Aside from the obvious effects of cats killing wildlife in our forests and backyards, their devastating effect has been responsible for the decline or extinction of some native species. They have also prevented or made difFicult the re-introduction of endangered species such as the Mala, or hare-wallaby, in the Northern Territory.

SO, WHAT CAN BE DONE ?

Firstly, people need to ask themselves if they really want or need a cat. Often we hear of cats being obtained to satisfy a child's wish. A suitable alternative is to teach children about our native animals and encourage them to look for wildlife in their own backyard. Buy, or better still make, a birdbath and plant some native shrubs and trees. A cat-free yard with suitable gardens soon has birds, lizards and other animals making it home.

If you must have a cat, the two main things to do are have it de-sexed and confine it to home at night. Bells placed on collars probably serve more to soothe the conscience of owners than protect wildlife but it is better than nothing.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service will be pleased to assist with any further advice people may need about cats and native wildlife.


A plea to all cat owners (Mountain News, December 1995)

All the staff at the Cafe had been watching the progress of a pale faced honeyeater building its tiny nest in the tree in the pot out the front, and much to our delight we saw eggs being laid and hatched, and the mother's endless missions to fill the bellies of the chirping chicks. We all felt privileged to be able to witness such occurrences; but the ending to this tale is not so pleasant.

Upon arriving for work on Sunday morning, Andy and I did our regular check on the well being of our feathered friends, only to find their nest laying empty on the ground, and no mum around. The chicks were not old enough to fly, and I seriously suspect the damage to be the work of a cat. I realise that feral cats are a problem in Mt Nebo, but we also have a more major problem with domestic cats. So I say this to cat owners: imagine if it were your children who were stolen and used for a meal: you would want the perpetrator locked up. It is not a big thing to ask: If you own a cat, despite the fact they do not belong here, keep it inside at all times.

Pro life to all native animals!!

Misty Tyler.


Cats and Dogs on the Mountain (Mountain News, August 1993)

I have become increasingly annoyed by the number of cats and dogs that are left to roam around the mountain. I have seen the dog catcher up here a few times and each time I have thought I hope they catch the real rouges who are always out, and wish that they caught cats as well.

Cats and dogs are a menace to the wildlife up here. I came to live in this environment because of the native animals around and the fact that the birds were friendly and kookaburras come and rob steaks off your BBQ.

We have seen dogs ripping apart an animal on our morning walks. We have seen numerous cats which we assume have gone feral as they shouldn't be out of their property; stalking, catching and eating the wildlife. I'm sorry but you can't tell me that a cat will not hunt because it has just been fed. A cat will hunt for pleasure, a dog will hunt for pleasure too especially if it teams up with another dog. I would like you all to seriously think about keeping your PET cats and dogs up here. The dogs should be confined within your own property and not left to wander. Cats should be kept on your property as well and should be locked up if you are going away and at night. You must start taking responsible action for your pets, if you don't want them or can't care for them, give them to the RSPCA or similar.

Maybe I can get the council to inform us on the responsibilities of owning pets and the associated laws,. We may all learn something, and maybe I can obtain a couple of cat traps too to dispense with the surplus cats that seem to be wandering the mountain.

A disgruntled, sleep deprived (due to cat fights) resident.

P.S. Who is going to clean up all the cat and dog poo that is littering public property (bikeway, walking track). Pooper scoopers should be compulsory! Any comments, good or bad will be accepted!!!


Dogs

Our dogs on the mountain (Geoff Ginn, Glenda, Charles and Sam, former residents).

When we first moved to the mountain, our family included our dog: a much loved mate and companion to our youngest member. As time has passed, he (the dog) has reconfirmed our affection for him in the many likeable and useful things he does. All this makes it quite a painful experience to learn that he is not lovable at all times and indeed, is not welcome by large groups of people on the mountain. It is more distressing to learn that he has been seen chasing wildlife. The distress comes when the family must choose a solution to the dilemma.

The community has a right to have its flora and fauna undisturbed, the family has a right to a dog. There is an onus on the family to manage the pet. As relative newcomers, we don't pretend to know the answer nor to presume that we are alone in the quandary. This little note seeks to invite suggestions from experienced others. So far we have decided, because we can't part with him,

a) not to have pets in future

b) have resolved to fence an area (about one acre)

c) as an interim (until (b) occurs) give the dog

1. Time "on the wire" - linked by a lead to a series of stretched fencing wire lengths.
2. Time indoors
3. Time on long walks at the leash
4. Time on his bed with a long lead attached.
None of the above is are original, but we'd certainly welcome other contributions on options. We've already had the ''terminal" suggestions thanks. At the recent (July) Residents meeting, attendees were alerted to the power of Shire By-Law No.42 (DOGS) The association has a copy of this by law should you like to read it.

Some aspects are:

  1. It defines as "ferocious", a dog that " has attacked, injured, worried, annoyed, put in fear or caused damage to a person, animal or poultry..." Two complaints in writing can cause a dog, so defined, to be removed from the shire in 7 days.
  2. Even if not declared ferocious, a dog who has been perceived by the Chief Health Surveyor as potentially capable of behaving as above could be destroyed.
Finally, may we again invite other comments on the options available to dog owners from those who have been through the experience successfully.

A canine investment guide (Darcy Kelly)

Small communities care passionately about issues that would barely raise a ripple in a metropolis. I'm referring specifically to the keeping of pets that may or may not be a threat to indigenous wild life. Before stating my obviously prejudiced view of this matter, I should tell you that, as the only child of parents who depended upon the logging industry for their living, we lived until I was seven years old in some very remote areas. As a three-year-old I was given a birthday gift of a red cattle dog puppy called Major. We grew up together (as puppies do) and to all intents and purposes he became my sibling. Totally bonded with me, we spent every waking hour together, and my mother held no fears for my safety as long as Major was with me.

The soundness of her belief was strikingly validated when at five plus I washed four of my father's prized Wyandotte fowls in a washtub. Perhaps he had had a bad day but the occasion marked the first physical chastisement of my life. You've guessed it - Major attacked and bit my father savagely on the arms. Subsequent punishments were always heralded when Major was put on the chain before the removal of the belt. Since those days I cannot remember any period of my life that has not included one or two dogs. In spite of the fact that they are the only other vertebrate that can form loyal and loving relationships with man, not everyone can relate to dogs. In some cases this is due to fear, often based on a bad childhood experience. Small children (including my own grand-daughter) are at times unwittingly cruel or threatening to dogs. Tail pulling, hitting with a feather duster and the like, can evoke a biting response. Because dog height equates with child face height, the end result can be bad, so don't introduce a grown dog into a family with small children.

When considering the contentious issue of preservation of indigenous species, it would be remembered that dogs have been selectively bred since the time of King Charles (King Charles cockers) to assist man in achieving his ends at hunting, guarding, stock management, even the finding of truffles. As a Mt Nebo resident, it's a fair assumption that the flame of conservation burns brightly within you, and domestic pets can be a factor affecting wild life adversely. In the interests of balance, however, we should remember that a major climate change - not domestic pets - caused the demise of the dinosaur, the greatest wild life debacle in the history of the planet. But back to Mt Nebo in 1992: a rising tide of petty crime and teenage delinquency forces us to consider that a dog could afford some insurance of the kind not offered by the AMP and others. But the most you should expect of any dog is that it will give you an early warning of harm or invasion. If you identify with the sentiments expressed, I include a summary of the criteria I use to measure suitability for our area.

DON'T buy a guard dog! It will ultimately become a threat to your neighbours and they will stop visiting.

DON'T buy a hunting breed (gun dogs etc), for they can be as predatory as any "cuddly cat".

DON'T buy a truffle hound. I've searched for years and there is definitely not a truffle in the district.

DO buy a working dog which includes border collies, kelpies and cattles.

Of these three THE COLLIES are the smartest and quite capable of doing crosswords once they learn to hold the pencil. Unfortunately their long coats are an impediment to finding the first scrub tick each spring. Tick death is a devastating thing to watch in a well-loved pet.

KELPIES are super bright. The tan ones with amber eyes are irresistible, but dyed-in-the-wool car chasers which, if you are adjacent to the highway, can lead to an unhappy ending.

CATTLE, not perfect but close. They bond strongly with children and/or the woman of the house if she does the feeding.

Finally, I submit this in the hope that our community will consider dog ownership without paranoia, because I believe that the times ahead will make it mandatory to see dogs as an integral part of domestic security.


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