Optimising growth paths of beef cattle in northern Australia for increased profit

The Optimising growth paths of beef cattle in northern Australia for increased profit project aimed to provide cost-effective strategies to increase growth rates and achieve younger, heavier turn-off of beef cattle in northern Australia and thus provide access to the higher-value quality markets.

In particular, it investigated the use of different growth paths between weaning and slaughter, achieved using various combinations of supplements and improved pasture that optimise profitability and use best practice grazing land management.

It combined bio-economic modelling of cattle production systems to provide options for commercial cattle producers.

The project included a grazing study in north Queensland and a series of pen-feeding studies and aimed to:

  • Evaluate and compare different feeding strategies for increasing growth rates of steers in northern Australia;
  • Establish growth response relationships for mature aged (finishing) cattle to supplements based on high protein and/or high energy fed in conjunction with low quality forages, and incorporate them into decision support systems for use by producers and their advisors;
  • Validate an existing intake prediction spreadsheet (QuikIntake) for use in predicting intake of pasture by cattle grazing tropical or sub-tropical pastures;
  • Develop a supplementation optimisation model for use by producers and extension officers.

Program outputs included the development of management tools to help producers:

  1. More cost effectively target markets requiring young, heavy carcases;
  2. Optimise use of their land and vegetation resource;
  3. Make decisions on best options for supplementation to achieve market results.

For more information, please read the final report summary and download the final report (B.NBP.0391) (PDF, 2.7MB) from Meat & Livestock Australia.

When: 1 September 2007 to 28 February 2012

Contact: Dr Stu McLennan

Collaborators: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation