Graziers and industry members from across the Queensland Coast gathered in Mackay recently (June 3rd) for the annual Sustainable Grazing Forum 2015.
More than 120 attendees travelled from up to 200km to find out more about the big issues for beef production: from breeding and biosecurity, to soil health and new pasture varieties for the region.
With a focus on more sustainable practices, forum coordinator Michael Boland said the event was a major success.
“The Mackay Grazing Forum is one of the only events focused specifically on graziers in our region,” Mr Boland said.
“Significantly, the graziers in the room represented collective management of more than 25,000 ha of land. The day was a chance for us to provide our graziers with the information they need to improve land and pasture management, to focus on challenges and opportunities, and to highlight where efficiencies can be gained.”
Attendees enjoyed the variety of presentations on the day, as well as the chance to network with industry professionals and other graziers.
Issues covered included: policy updates; achievements being made by local graziers through the Australian Government Reef Programme; genetics and breeding; pasture nutrition; control of Giant rat’s tail grass (GRT); and soil health.
Geoff Niethe, Research Coordinator from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) spoke to the group on how to win the ‘world cup’ of cattle by building the best foundation for a breeder herd.
“If you want to win the world cup, you need to have a good junior sports development team coming up through the ranks, Mr Niethe said.
“It’s about considering how to select and prepare the right heifers from a young age for maximum lifelong productivity in the herd. For example, we know from data that cows targeted at certain times of the year are more likely to calf again in a 12-month cycle. Information like that can be critical in adding value to the herd.
“With more pressure on graziers and producers to build efficiencies, there’s certainly areas for improvement in fertility – no one has it quite right yet.”
Ross Dodt, Senior Industry Development Officer for DAF spoke on the challenges facing the local Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac beef industry.
“A problem for many regional beef properties is insufficient scale. For example properties in Area III of the brigalow ballot scheme were originally sub-divided on the basis they would run 800 head of cattle. Technology has enabled producers to stock at higher rates than this but the temptation for some has been to stock at unsustainable rates, hastening problems such as pasture rundown, unwanted pasture specie encroachment and deteriorated land condition,” Mr Dodt said.
“Producers are also feeling the ‘terms of trade’ pinch in a commodity-based market of – how do we juggle the challenge of trying to decrease the cost of production while also raising quality animals that are worth more per head?”
Mr Dodt said there was no ‘one hat fits all’ solution, but that beef producers needed the right information to make an educated decision on how to move forward.
The Queensland Coast Sustainable Grazing Forum is an annual event for the benefit of industry and is free for landholders. Mr Boland said it also played an important role in supporting local grazing networks.
“This event gives graziers the chance to identify further activites or workshops they consider would be of value to the local grazing community. This ensures Reef Catchments continues to deliver events and information tailored to local needs for a sustainable grazing industry,” Mr Boland said.
The forum is supported by Reef Catchments, through funding from the Australian Government.
With thanks to the day’s presenters: Megan Star (DAF), Michelle Smith (DAF), Geoff Neith (MLA), Lauren Hewitt (AgForce), Jim Fletcher (DAF), Neil CLiffe (DAF), Ross Dodt (DAF), Dr Pam Pittaway (University Southern Queensland), Paul Tippett (Heritage Seeds), Amanda Bland (Reef Catchments) and Misko Ivezich (Alluvium); as well as the forum’s wonderful MC, Kim Kleidon.
Graziers wanting more information on how to be involved in upcoming Reef Programme activities can contact:
Michael Boland | M: 0419 191 373 | P: (07) 4968 4215 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org