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Pastoral Zone Management

Australia’s pastoral zone annually generates significant wealth through a range of increasingly diverse industries including mining, cattle and beef, tourism, and sheep and wool. There are currently around 1,700 pastoral zone sheep producers across Australia.

Australian pastoral zone wool production is currently estimated at 10-12% of total Australian shorn wool production.

Meat production from cattle, dual purpose sheep such as Dohnes, and exotic meat sheep breeds such as Dorpers, is increasing in the pastoral zone.

Pastoral zone wool and sheepmeat production relies on the sustainable grazing of the native grasslands and shrublands that make up Australia's rangelands. These rangelands cover 75% of Australia. The rangelands represent the largest group of the nation's ecosystems remaining in a relatively natural condition.

Sheep producers in the pastoral zone face a number of challenges to their profitability, sustainability and cost of production:

  • Managing sheep grazing in a highly variable climate, particularly estimating Feed-on-Offer (FOO)
  • Managing the impact of total grazing pressure from feral and native animals
  • The design and location of water points
  • New remote technologies for managing animals and monitoring water supplies.

Links to key sources of information and knowledge specifically to assist pastoral sheep producers manage these challenges are included in these pages.

Note: this page has been superceded by Module 12: Efficient Pastoral Production

Signposts Signposts


WaterSmart Pastoralism™ Handbook – a practical guide for stock water management in desert Australia: details important considerations for stock water delivery and outlines technologies which can reduce the cost of water delivery and storage. Visit:

Australian Pastoral Property Innovation Manual: provides examples of 120 on-property innovations covering administration, business management, diversification, people, production, the environment, infrastructure and equipment. To download an order form go to and click on the link for the Australian Pastoral Property Innovation Manual. Cost $55 including GST and postage.

The Glovebox Guide to Tactical Grazing Management for semi-arid rangelands, Campbell T and Hacker R, (2000) NSW DPI. Download here


Telemetry Cost Recovery Calculator: the Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre developed a spreadsheet to help pastoralists calculate how long it would take to recover the cost of installing remote water monitoring systems. Visit: (you will need Microsoft Excel to use this tool).

Precision Sheep Management: a system to help sheep producers use knowledge about the individual sheep within a flock to make decisions on management and marketing to improve across-flock performance and profit. Visit the Sheep Cooperative Research Centre:

MLA’s Producer Producer Demonstration site program: offers up to $20,000 assistance over 3 years to beef, lamb, sheepmeat and goatmeat producer groups Australia-wide to meet the red meat industry’s request for greater producer involvement in research and development. To find out more:

Enrich forage shrub research: This Future Farm Industries project explored the use of shrubs as a perennial feedbase for innovative and profitable grazing enterprises based on sound resource management principles. 


Grazing Land Management (GLM) workshop: develop grazing management strategies to increase profit and sustainability. EDGEnetwork® GLM courses are available in several regions across the pastoral zone. The MLA EDGEnetwork® program is coordinated nationally and has a range of courses for sheep producers. Contact can be made via:

Bestprac: a group-based, continuous improvement program for arid zone rangeland sheep producers. Find out more about Bestprac by:

• Calling the National Coordinator: (08) 8842 1103
• Visiting: