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Finding the north's sweet spot

18 October 2018

The CashCow project found that there was an opportunity to improve breeder performance in some areas of northern Australia.

Previous research has focused on disease, herd management and genetics, but little is known about how different levels of pasture utilisation impact breeder productivity.

The ‘Sweet Spot’ project will address this knowledge gap and find the sweet spot of pasture utilisation to ensure long-term optimal breeder performance in northern Australia. The project aims to develop tools to predict the impact of pasture utilisation on reproduction, so producers can optimise pasture use to maximise kilograms turned off while maintaining the resource base.

The project is funded by MLA and brings together pasture and cattle scientists, as well as modellers from across the north. The $2 million project, over four years, is led by Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DIPR), collaborating with the Queensland Departments of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Environment and Science.

"Hitting that sweet spot in sustainable and productive pasture utilisation is critical to realise the inherent productivity gains of northern herds," R&D manager Grassfed Beef, Dr Nigel Tomkins, said.

“This type of research is important to help us understand the implications of managing our pasture resources, in addition to productivity gains through improved genetics, disease management and improve breeder fertility."

The project will use existing breeder datasets to ask new questions, increasing the value of previously funded research.

“There is an untapped gold mine of breeder production data from sites across northern Australia.

“By bringing together these existing datasets we will gain new insights into how to manage breeders to improve reproduction,” DPIR’s Dr Robyn Cowley said.

The project team had their first meeting in August. The first phase of the project is searching across the north for suitable breeder datasets that can be collated and modelled.


Dr Robyn Cowley
T: 0419 829 493

Dr Kieren McCosker
T: 08 8973 9771