High-output forage systems for meeting beef markets: Phase 2
The High-output forage systems for meeting beef markets: Phase 2 project built on findings from Phase 1 to investigate the relative profitability of six forage options for backgrounding or finishing cattle in the Fitzroy River catchment of Queensland.
This Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Meat & Livestock Australia co-funded research project examined the relative production and profitability of key alternative forage options for backgrounding or finishing cattle in central Queensland.
Data was collected at 24 forage sites on commercial properties over 2011–2014 to benchmark the performance of six key forage types including oats, forage sorghum, lablab, leucaena-grass and butterfly-grass as well perennial grass-only pasture as a baseline for comparison. The researchers documented forage and beef production as well as gross margins for each site. In addition, more complete economic analyses, or farm case studies, were conducted with five beef producers to give insights into the effect of sown forages on whole farm profitability. Finally, the factors affecting forage profitability were further investigated through constructed, or modelled, forage scenarios. In these scenarios standard management practices were assumed and the performance of forages was modelled over a longer time-frame, hence taking out the variation due to seasonal and market fluctuations.
This work gives us a better understanding of the expected forage, animal and economic performance from key forage options under commercial management conditions. In summary, under current market and cost conditions, perennial legume-grass pastures, particularly leucaena-grass, had a significant advantage over perennial grass pasture and annual forages in terms of profitability. However, legume-grass pastures were not as profitable as grain cropping when grain cropping was a feasible alternative. Annual forages were unable to add economic value to the beef enterprise due to their higher average growing costs when compared to perennial forages.
A producer guide to forage use, ‘Feeding forages in the Fitzroy’, brings together information on the agronomy, management, cattle production and economic performance from high quality forages. This guide is designed to assist graziers to make informed decisions about what forages may be best for their enterprises, and how to get the best out of them. Download a copy of Feeding forages in the Fitzroy: a guide to profitable beef production in the Fitzroy River catchment (PDF 3.06 MB). A four-page summary of the project describing the key messages, management issues and top tips to help beef producers maximise the productivity and profitability of sown forages is also available for download (PDF, 312KB).
A series of three Microsoft Excel spreadsheets contain the example (‘constructed’) gross margins presented in the forage guide and can be used to test alternative scenarios based on individual property production and input figures. Download the spreadsheets from the Beef business tools page.
For more information, please read the final report summary and download the final report (B.NBP.0636) (PDF, 10.6MB) from the Meat & Livestock Australia website.
The Final Report on Extension Activities: High-output forages for meeting beef markets – Phase 2 (PDF, 4MB) is also available for download.
Maximising beef production and profits with high quality forages
High quality forages play an integral role in beef backgrounding and finishing operations in central Queensland. These forages include sorghum, lablab, oats, leucaena, butterfly pea and other perennial legume-grass pastures.
Getting the best results using the right forage was the focus of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Meat & Livestock Australia co-funded research project, High-output forage systems for meeting beef markets – Phase 2.
The project examined the relative production and profitability of key alternative forage options for backgrounding and finishing cattle in central Queensland. Using perennial grass-only pastures as a baseline for comparison, four years of field work on commercial beef properties across the Fitzroy Basin was completed to benchmark and analyse high quality forages.
In this webinar recording, project leader Maree Bowen provides an overview of the results and discusses the key findings. 53:17 minutes published 21 May 2015. Download the presentation slides (PDF, 3.9MB).
When: 17 January 2011 to 30 June 2016
Contact: Dr Maree Bowen
Collaborator: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries