Mighty dung beetle the star of horse paddocks

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A dung beetle from the Western Cape at full gallop.
A South African dung beetle at full gallop.

South Australia’s equine lobby group Horse SA is promoting the use of dung beetles as a natural way of getting rid of horse manure from paddocks.

Horse SA has created a new website promoting the industrious beetles, saying they are “hard little workers that can save horse owners much time”.

“Allowing dung beetles to bury the manure in paddocks is a natural way to get rid of the manure, leading to improved soil health and pasture growth.”

The new website provides information on promoting dung beetle health and land care through reducing the use of chemicals and adoption of sustainable land care principles.

Dung beetles have many benefits including helping to control the infective stages of a horse’s gut worms and other pests such as dung-breeding flies. An active beetle population will also save horse owners time cleaning up after horses, with the added benefit of improving soil carbon and organic matter.

Sustainable land care and dung beetles go hand-in-hand, say Horse SA.
Sustainable land care and dung beetles go hand-in-hand, say Horse SA.

“Rethinking how and when horses are de-wormed, and with what products is important,” said Julie Fiedler, Executive Officer for Horse SA and project manager. “Strategic deworming and planned pasture management regimes are not only good for horses but allow dung beetles to breed.”

Dr. Bernard Doube of Dung Beetle Solutions Australia, worked with Horse SA to develop eight new “Horses, Bugs and Beetles” fact sheets that underpin the website information. Topics include de-worming, reducing chemical use and threats to dung beetles. A suite of educational PowerPoints based on the fact sheets can be downloaded from the website.

The Horses, Bugs and Beetles project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture

The focus is on beetles active Southern Australia, however many of the key messages apply to horse owners world-wide.

horsesbugsbeetles.org

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