Northern Australia

The Northern Livestock Advisor Updates workshop was held in Brisbane on 19 August with over 50 livestock industry advisors and professionals in attendance. Presentation details are available below. View our Brisbane event overview infographic.

An overview of carbon trading for northern grazing systems

Peter Wilkinson Verterra Ecological Engineering

Geoff Murrell, Parraway Pastoral Co.

Key messages:

  1. Beef herd Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) project methodology equates to best agricultural practice. Participating in the ERF provides an opportunity for beef producers to compare management practices and adopt successful ideas.
  2. You need to measure to manage – and to participate in the ERF.

Useful resources

Revised adult equivalent (AE) system for northern cattle and implications for their nutritional requirements

Stuart McLennan, University of Queensland

Key messages:

  1. The standard animal has been defined as: 
    a 2.25 year-old, 450 kg B. taurus steer with zero weight change and walking 7 km/day.
  2. The Australian feeding standards (NRDR) do not predict the ME requirements of ruminants grazing tropical forages well
  3. Either the modified or unmodified NRDR can be used to estimate AE rank
  4. The intake of cattle can be estimated by multiplying the AE rank by an intake constant that varies between 7.5 and 8.5 kg DM/AE/day

Useful resources

  1. SR McLennan, DP Poppi, J Campbell (2014) Prediction of herbage intake of cattle from animal performance, using the Australian feeding standards, In ‘Optimising growth paths of beef cattle in northern Australia for increased profitability’, Project B.NBP.0391, Final report to Meat & Livestock Australia.
  2. I McLean, S Blakeley (2014) Adult equivalent methodology: a methodology to accurately and consistently calculate cattle grazing loads in northern Australia, Project B.NBP.0779, Final report to Meat & Livestock Australia.
  3. SR McLennan, I McLean, C Paton (2019) Redefining animal unit equivalence for the northern Australian grazing industry. Final report to Meat & Livestock Australia. In preparation.

Tim Schatz, NT DPIR

Phosphorus supplementation in northern Australia, Rob Dixon, University of Queensland and Tim Schatz, NT DPIR

Key messages:

  1. Use blood testing (PiP) to make decisions about whether to supplement. Also use knowledge of soil type, soil testing and observations of animals.
  2. Where it is possible to feed P supplements through the entire wet season -- this is the preferred management. Where it is not possible to feed P supplements for the entire wet season -- then P supplement for as long as practical.
  3. Late pregnancy and lactating breeders grazing dry season pasture need P + N supplements to increase bone P stores, especially in P-deficient regions.
  4. Breeders can use body P reserves for pregnancy / lactation but at the cost of reducing liveweight and bone P reserves. First-calf cows have less capacity.
  5. If bone P is mobilised it must be replenished if a cow is to calve annually.
  6. Manage breeder body P reserves the same as body energy (fat) reserves.
  7. P supplementation has a substantial return on investment – in trials it has been shown to increase the number and weight of calve weaned, improve growth and pregnancy rates and reduce cow mortality.

Useful resources

The Future Beef website has a number of webinars and research updates on Phosphorous nutrition and supplementation:

More information 

Managing the feedbase in a variable climate – decision dates

Jill Alexander, Applied Ag

Key messages:

  1. Expect and plan for seasonal variability – make sure your land is always ‘rain ready’
  2. Set decision dates to review feed supply and stocking rate
  3. Match stocking rate to carrying capacity
  4. Early destocking when the growing season fails allows the core herd to be sustained in good condition for longer
  5. Always come out of a dry spell (regardless of how long) with good grass stubble left in the paddock

Useful resources

Implications of vegetation thickening/regrowth on northern grazing systems

Steven Bray, Department of Agriculture and Fishers, Queensland

Key messages:

  • Trees and grass are a balance requiring management
  • There are large regional differences in trees retained and cleared
  • Assess the economics of management options and consider the value of retained trees (e.g. carbon sequestration)

Useful resources

Profitable Grazing Systems overview - A pasture focus for meeting nutritional requirements

Désirée Jackson, Désirée Jackson Livestock Management

Key messages:

Overview of coaching a group of producers to improve their ability to meet animal nutritional requirements. This presentation focused on the effective dissemination of information so participants change or adopt new practices.  The success of a coaching group is highly dependent on:

  1. Having a committed group of producers
  2. Engaging producers in a coaching program through a feeder activity
  3. Maintaining momentum and interest of the group
  4. Flexibility - consider different pathways to achieve the outcome and use different methods of delivery
  5. There must be a clear end date.

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