Incorporating legumes for more profitable beef production

The value of incorporating perennial legumes into extensive beef production systems is the focus of the latest video from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF).

In this video, Extension Officer, Kylie Hopkins, briefly highlights findings from the Delivering integrated production and economic knowledge and skills to improve drought management outcomes for grazing enterprises project. “Incorporating perennial legumes such as leucaena or Desmanthus into existing grass pastures is the most efficient way to improve business production and profitability in the Fitzroy region” Kylie said. “Return on investment can be between 15 and 30% for some businesses, as the improved diet quality and higher stocking rate allow more kilograms of beef to be turned off per hectare, per year.”

Former manager of Gordon Downs, David Thornberry, provides an operational perspective of the impact that sowing leucaena has made to his grazing enterprise. “Introducing leucaena into our system has allowed us to maintain high levels of productivity, even in years when the property has received just over half the average annual rainfall, such as last year.” David also states that planting the perennial legume has contributed to lowering cost of gain and increasing sustainability in terms of land condition and animal performance.

In conclusion, DAF Senior Agronomist, Stuart Buck, notes that while incredible gains can be made, there are five key points that beef producers need to get right when sowing legumes into established grass pastures, to make the most from their investment. To find out what these are, and to hear more of what Kylie, David and Stuart have to share, watch this video: Beef up your profitability with legumes (6:11 minutes).

An evaluation of legumes and other strategies that may improve the profitability and resilience of beef businesses in Central Queensland can be found in Fitzroy beef production system—preparing for, responding to, and recovering from drought (PDF, 3 MB).