Economic performance of beef cattle finishing systems used on the North-Eastern Downs

The Economic performance of beef cattle finishing systems used on the North-Eastern Downs project was set up as part of the Implementation of Producer Demonstration Sites to increase research adoption and practice change in Queensland project to demonstrate the production and profitability of five beef cattle finishing systems used on the north east Darling Downs.


Producers finish cattle using different systems, but which are profitable? A PDS at ‘Bannockburn’ near Bell in Queensland evaluated the economics of finishing systems. The systems compared included:

  • sown grass-only pastures
  • leucaena-grass
  • forage oats
  • feedlotting.

Two mobs of EU steers (350 kg entry liveweight) were assessed, 87 head in 2011 and 100 head in 2012. Three-quarters of each mob grazed leucaena-grass for six months until June and then split onto oats, into the feedlot or onto leucaena-grass. The remaining steers grazed grass-only for the entire period.

Steers were weighed six times, faecal samples were collected monthly to determine diet quality and stocking rates were monitored continuously.


Systems were compared on the partial return on livestock capital invested. The high-input systems (leucaena, oats and feedlot) produced significantly higher annual returns than the grass-only system both years. The kilograms of liveweight produced per hectare in the leucaena-grass finishing system was double that of the grass-only.

Field days

Approximately 200 people attended three field days run in conjunction with this producer demonstration site and 11 businesses attended workshop training days. Feedback from these events suggested that the objective data from the demonstration created awareness and prompted practice change.

Project concluded: September 2013

Contact: Tim Emery

Collaborator: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

More information

For more information, please read the B.NBP.0600_(PDS6)_Final Report (PDF, 3MB).