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Northern Breeding Business: NB2 Strategic Partnership Development

Did you know the Northern Breeding Business Strategic partnership aims to create an additional $20 million per year in benefits by 2027?

Project start date: 01 June 2019
Project end date: 30 August 2020
Publication date: 08 May 2020
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Grassfed cattle
Download Report (1.3 MB)


The long-term viability and sustainability of the northern beef industry faces three main threats:

  • calf loss in northern breeding herds
  • the low level of profitability of many northern beef enterprises
  • the low level of adoption of proven management practices and technologies.

To address these issues, the North Australia Beef Research Council (NABRC), in association with MLA, has now developed NB2; the Northern Breeding Business strategic research, development, extension and adoption (RDE&A) partnership.

The new strategic partnership proposed in this project, NB2, has ambitious targets – namely to deliver an estimated $20 million in net benefits a year to 250 northern beef enterprises through the adoption of management practices, technologies and objective data analysis. 

The core business of the NB2 program is built around three pillars supported by an integrated adoption and extension program:

  • The Herd management pillar focuses on enhancing breeding herd performance through improved systems and interventions.
  • The Feedbase pillar focuses on optimising feed production, supply and utilisation for the breeding herd in order to achieve target performance levels in a cost effective manner.
  • The Sustainability pillar (formerly, the Environment pillar) explores issues related to managing the rangelands and the environment, and the long-term sustainability of the northern beef industry. This pillar clearly aligns to the existing Australian Beef Sustainability Framework (ABSF). After discussions with the ABSF, the decision was made to change the name of this pillar, as there is considerable agreement in objectives and potential mutual benefits between NB2 and the ABSF. NB2 has now adopted the ABSF definition of sustainability, “The production of beef in a manner that is socially, environmentally and economically responsible. We do this through the care of natural resources, people and the community, the health and welfare of animals, and the drive for continuous improvement.”

For more information on the NB2 pillars and their focus, please contact Nigel Tomkins


The objective of this project was to propose a strategic partnership to address the low reproductive performance of breeder herds across northern Australia compared with southern enterprises.

Key findings

Research has identified several interventions to increase calf survival and productivity in northern herds, but the adoption and implementation of these have been lacking. Therefore, this project proposed a new partnership, NB2, to measurably increase the uptake and adoption of R&D outcomes that target reproductive performance and calf wastage.

The three pillars of the partnership will focus on:

  • Herd management: enhancing breeding herd performance through improved systems and interventions.
  • Feedbase: optimising feed production and supply for, and utilisation by, the breeding herd.
  • Environment: exploring issues in rangeland management, the environment and the long-term sustainability of the northern beef industry.

Benefits to industry

The proposed strategic partnership detailed in this report estimates a 5:1 return on investment through improving the reproductive rate, decreasing mortality, increasing turn off weight and improving genetic potential in northern herds. This partnership also provides education, training, mentoring and employment opportunities for people entering or already engaged in the northern beef industry.

MLA action

MLA and NABRC are implementing the proposed partnership, Northern Breeding Business (NB2).

The outcomes of NB2 are to:

  • yield $20 million in net benefits a year to the northern beef industry by 2027, by increasing the live weight of sale cattle
  • conduct a stocktake of the progress of current RDE&A to identify knowledge gaps and propose a potential scope for NB2.
  • NB2 proposes to recruit up to 250 producers over seven years to participate in on-farm RDE&A activities.
  • The cost benefit ratio for the NB2 program has been estimated as a total increase in income, which equals a 5:1 return on investment.
  • The seven-year program intends to deliver a 5% increase in weaning rate, a 1% decrease in herd mortality rate and a 10kg increase in sale weight of cattle at the same age, while operating at a level of long-term, sustainable production and profit.

Future research

Some of the potentially high-impact highlights of the NB2 proposal include:

  • Involving producers in the conception, delivery and management of NB2 to deliver ownership of RDE&A to businesses in northern Australia.
  • NB2 will address the issue of calf loss in the northern beef industry through developing customised breeding herd managements systems.

More information

Project manager: Hayley Robinson
Contact email:
Primary researcher: North Australia Beef Research Council