Where did all the dung go?

29 March 2021

CSIRO introduced dung beetles between 1968-1992 to Australia to specifically feed on livestock dung. Twenty-three introduced species have established and spread across Australia where they feed on dung and use it as a food source for their offspring.

Not much is known about the full extent and abundance of dung beetles nor what impact some management practices can have on dung beetle populations on a farm.

The PPWCMA and Macedon Ranges Shire Council recently hosted a workshop for over 40 landholders in Chintin with presentations and a farm walk by Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers. Participants learnt about dung beetle identification, beetle benefits and how to redistribute species across local farms to build populations and shorten seasonal gaps if local suitable species are absent.

We now know that dung beetles provide many benefits from improved soil permeability, reduced spread of flies and parasites and improved pasture fertility when dung is buried. Pasture productivity improves and waterways are protected from nutrient loaded surface runoff.

By the end of the workshop we had solved the case of the missing dung – we learnt that dung beetles can consume large quantities of dung through feeding and/or burying dung underground. So that’s where all the dung goes! These fabulous engineers certainly are beneficial!

For more information on dung beetles, go to https://www.dungbeetles.com.au/ and download the My Dung Beetle Reporter app from your app store to record your observations.