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Red Meat Targets: Grazing Management Systems for increased red meat production at Circular Head

Animal production systems can focus on either achieving high individual animal performance or high group performance by having more animals with lesser individual production. In reality, economics dictate a compromise, so this work has been undertaken with the aim of achieving such a situation. Over the years the system has been fairly successful in achieving this compromise because the observed levels of animal production per hectare have not been at the expense of performance per animal, as all animals met sale specifications. Although individual animal performance varied with season, it remained within the window of 0.39 kg - 1.92 kg /head/day irrespective of stocking rate. In order for a system to annually produce 1269 kg live weight, about 9 tonnes of pasture dry matter must have been consumed per hectare. Accepting utilisation of 70% implies 12.9 tonnes of dry matter must have been annually produced per hectare. Although this is less than reported by the dairy industry, the only input has been grazing management. 

Economics must always be considered as part of the decision making process associated with adopting new technology. Adoption of an intensive grazing management system does require adequate sub division and provision of sufficient water points. Portable electric fencing may also be required to sub divide areas but paddock size can be adjusted to suit herd size. In this experimental area each plot of 1.9 ha was divided in half by a two wire permanent electric fence. Each half was then further sub divided into six breaks with temporary electric fences requiring about an hour's labour per week. The annual break-even cost for this operation and capital equipment is the value of about 200 kg of beef live weight per hectare, being the production advantage of this system over set stocking. This work substantiates that already undertaken at Winnaleah, and sets the annual benchmark for beef production in a 1000 mm rainfall area with freely draining soils at 1200 kg live weight gain/ha, if only best practice grazing management is adopted. As demonstrated at Winnaleah the benchmark can be further extended by intensification through addition of nitrogen and irrigation.

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This page was last updated on 24/07/2017

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