Profitable Practices for Northern Grazing Businesses

20 Apr 2015

On the 8th of October, Northern Gulf and the DAFF Beef Team convened a field day at Lanes Creek Station, Georgetown, featuring leading cattle production vet Ian Braithwaite.  Ian has been testing grazier’s traditional paradigms with innovative herd management strategies to improve the profitability of northern grazing operations.  He discussed local breeder management strategies to reduce costs and improve both cash flow and profit.  Over recent years, some producers may have doubted the relevance of Ian’s herd management strategies to the Northern Gulf region.  However, this time at Lanes Creek, both Ian and Tim McGrath from DAFF were well armed with local reproduction records and results from Bulimba, Haydon and Green Hills.  Ian has donated his time to work with the Simmons family at Haydon to collect reproduction data to ensure the Northern Gulf producers are exposed to   innovative herd management systems that match their conditions. 

Ian highlighted the financial benefits of cows calving from October to December and the feasibility of some breeder operations cutting costs and reducing death rates by deliberately aiming for a calf every second year.  Ian’s key message on the day included the importance of balancing calves, cash flow and grass supplies.  Good grazing management underpins any beef enterprise and stocking rates need to be set according to the effective grazing range from permanent waters.  Although cattle will travel huge distances to water the most effective grazing range is around 2.5 km from water equating to an area of 2000 ha or 5000 acres.    

 The Lanes Creek field day also featured presentations from Alison Larard and the DAFF Beef Team.  Alison and the Beef Team have been providing business management support to grazing businesses throughout the Gulf as part of the $avannaPlan-Beef$ense project.   Alison and Joe Rolfe shared their insights on the lessons learned from innovative producers and the successful management practices that help producers cope with the current climatic, cost-price and debt pressures. 

 The DAFF Beef and Pasture   Team also presented the latest results from new pasture and hay trials across the Gulf as part of the “Evaluating Promising Pastures” and “Leucaena” projects.  This included the successful establishment of the new Psyllid resistant breeding lines of Leuceana at Whitewater Station, Mt Surprise.   Palatability trials will be conducted on Whitewater over the next few months to ensure these new varieties of Leucaena are attractive to cattle.

Ultimately, attending graziers were rewarded with the exceptional hospitality of Brian and Cindy Hughes at Lanes Creek Station.  Attendees were also enjoyed Rabobank’s generous donation of refreshments.  Ultimately the Lanes Creek forum was organised by the Regional Landcare Facilitator Program (Northern Gulf Resource Management Group) in collaboration with the DAFF Far North and North West Beef and Pasture Team.