Finding profitability in Extensive Grazing with Ian Braithwaite

21 Apr 2015

From the Grazing Forum held in Georgetown last year, it became apparent from feedback that there was a great depth of respect for the veterinarian Dr Ian Braithwaite and a strong demand for his trainings. 

Subsequently, the Regional Landcare Facilitator from Northern Gulf with support from the QDAF Beef Team, facilitated two day trainings by Ian in Pregnancy Testing, Foetal Aging, Breeder Management, Sustainable Pasture Management and its financial implications to the business in an extensive grazing context.  In total 30 land managers participated in the trainings held in March.  The training was unique in the way it married up “hands on” technical skills training with the opportunity to learn improved grazing management practices.  “We don’t want to send practical graziers asleep in a class room”

Some of the feature “take home messages” covered in the training included;

  1. Redefine the traditional grazing production model to include the importance of pasture production, profitability, cash flow and risk management.

  2. Foetal aging allows grazing managers to segregate breeders with different calving timing.  This allows graziers to save on supplementary lick costs, increase their marketing options and reduce mortalities.

  3. Cows that fail to raise a calf 2 years in a row can be identified at pregnancy testing.

  4. The importance of good pasture management which enables better condition cows to gain increased weaning percentages.  Skinny cows don’t sell well, produce saleable weaners, and can lead to high mortality rates.

  5. The importance of managing drought risk by allowing for a drought reserve. 

  6. It is important to set a deadline going into the dry season to pro-actively sell cattle to reduce numbers, before the worst of the dry season hits.

  7. What influences tighter calving patterns.

  8. The potential economic and pasture benefits of altering herd composition by keeping weaners for a year whilst reducing breeder numbers.

  9. To identify underutilised country with the knowledge that effective grazing range is 2 to 3 km from a watering point.  New water infrastructure can be cost effective way of utilising unutilised country.

  10. The importance of testing bull fertility, which not only improves calving performance, but allows the reduction in joining percentages 3.5% down to 2.5%.

  11. The importance of providing weaners a good plane of nutrition, and supplements can be cost effective.

  12. The importance of good financial business management as a critical part of good grazing management.  The grazier shouldn’t be leaving the financial business management just up to the accountant.  Ultimately it is essential for grazing managers to make decisions that optimise profit for their own business. 

  13. Good cash flow budgeting and herd dynamics can provide bank managers confidence. (Bank managers are keen to keep good managers on their books).

Ultimately, the local graziers who attended the trainings indicated overwhelmingly that they were grateful for the opportunity to participate and learn from Ian’s valuable knowledge.