Northern Australian beef fertility project (CashCow)

CashCow was a three year project investigating the fertility of 78,256 beef breeders from 75 selected commercial enterprises across northern Australia.

The project team included cattle veterinarians, beef productions researchers and epidemiologists who have:

  • measured, recorded and analysed major factors that can influence breeder reproduction
  • determined the most important factors and the amount of variation they explain
  • developed analytical tools and cost benefit frameworks for cow herd management.

To better understand herd reproduction, researchers have developed new performance measures such as ‘kilograms of beef annually per 100kg of cattle’ and ‘kilograms weaned per cow’ and determined achievable performance levels for both heifers and cows by geographic region.

The project is identifying areas that need further investigation and will contribute to developing strategies to improve beef breeder herd production across northern Australia.

Outputs include a guide to breeder herd performance monitoring, estimates of economic impacts of different management strategies and recommendations for delivery of project findings and outputs to beef producers and their support groups.

When: 1 June 2007 to 31 July 2012

Where: Northern Australia

Contact: Dr Geoffry Fordyce E:

Collaborators: University of Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, CSIRO and private businesses including AusVet Animal Health Services, Outcross Performance Pty Ltd (electronic data capture), cattle veterinarians and cattle producers.

RD&E objectives: Enterprise viability: Increasing cost efficiency and productivity and profitability; Enterprise sustainability: Increasing natural resource use efficiency and managed environmental impacts

Industry priority: Reproduction

Useful links:

Learning from CashCow: the Northern Australian beef fertility project

In this presentation, Professor Michael McGowan (University of Queensland) focuses on providing producers with a practical approach to answering the question, ‘How is my beef breeding business going?’ Producers will be introduced to a spreadsheet that enables them to readily develop key performance indicators, readily measures estimates of beef production from breeding herds, create benchmarks defining what level of beef production and reproductive performance is commercially achievable by country type, and what are the major factors affecting the likelihood of a cow contributing a weaner in consecutive years. 1:09:37 minutes published 4 September 2014 by FutureBeefAu.

Insights from the CashCow project

As presented at the Northern Beef Research Update Conference 2013, Michael McGowan (Professor – Production Animal Medicine, University of Queensland) discusses the findings of a Meat & Livestock Australia funded project that was designed to answer questions related to cattle reproduction and productivity. Hear Michael discuss “How much beef am I producing?”, “How much beef can I potentially sell?” and “How much does it cost me?” 26:07 minutes published 24 February 2014 by FutureBeefAu.

Measuring the reproductive efficiency of your breeding herd

Listen to Dr Geoffry Fordyce, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, present preliminary results from the CashCow project focussing on measuring breeder performance. 29:13 minutes published 17 May 2012 by FutureBeefAu. For more information please contact Dave Smith on (07) 4761 5160 or email