MLA board seeks directors

Monday, June 06, 2011

Meat and Livestock Australia is seeking three independent directors to its board.

Experience and industry knowledge in on- and off-farm production, research and development and marketing are a must.

Additionally, the successful candidates will ideally have experience in corporate governance and strategy development and a background in northern beef production or sheepmeat production.

Applications close June 10.

For more information, please go to:  http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2011/05/26/335621_opinion-columnists.html

 



Scone Yard at Forefront With NLIS

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Maintaining its position as a leading saleyard was the only incentive the Upper Hunter Shire Council needed to make an early move on providing full traceability for cattle under the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS).  Now, with three months to go before implementation date, Council is ready to play its part - with plenty of time to iron out technicalities.

The key to its success has been open communication with an active saleyard committee comprising agents, vendors and buyers, representatives of Council, and the community.

Council's Manager of Technical Support, Coleen Pinkerton, said cooperation and a long lead time had allowed the committee to fully explore its options. "Last year our saleyards committee inspected several saleyards and different systems in Victoria to see which system would be best for us," Ms. Pinkerton said. "Our biggest decision was where to put the Aleis multi-read scanner - before or after the ring.

"We finally decided on after-ring placement and that appears to be a good decision. We have been using it for EU scanning,  and the flow of cattle from the ring through the scanner has been very smooth."

Scone is the tenth largest cattle saleyard in the state with an average annual throughout of 82,000 head, and well supported by many domestic and export abattoirs.

With some concern that the multi-read scanner would slow the system down and bruise cattle, Council trialed a mocked-up version of the proposed system to allay any fears. Saleyard Supervisor Steve Kemp said since the Aleis system had been installed there had been no reports of bruising from buyers or the abattoirs, and the sales had not slowed.

"We have averaged 85 lots an hour during the last 12 months, and when we put the scanner in, that figure didn't decrease at all.  In fact there was one sale where we got up to 90 lots an hour," Mr Kemp said.  While his initial reaction to NLIS was "here's another imposition on us," Mr Kemp was keen to make it happen once he had time to digest what was involved.

"We don't anticipate a problem with NLIS in this saleyard from an operational point of view. Cattle leave the sale ring and go through the exit scanner and the information is downloaded onto the system at the end of the sale. My only concern is how the database will cope with the influx of information coming through on July 1, but we have plenty of time to test this."

Agents hope to pre-scan cattle the night before allowing the vendor time to overcome any problems. Panel scanners will be installed near the loading ramps in preparation for scanning in and out of the saleyards.

Council received a 5.0 per cent grant for the installation of NLIS from the State Government and expects to recoup its share (336,000) within three years.



New Technology

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

On a remote cattle station some time into the future, the phone rings. A buyer has a boat going to Indonesia at the end of the week and the weight range is 270-340 kgs.

"How many can you supply?" the voice asks.

Traditionally, the pastoralist would give an estimate and then get the mob in to check the weights. Today though, our farmer makes a few clicks on his mouse. Sensors at watering points have enabled the weight of individual cattle to be recorded daily and he can see straight away he will have 22 decks in that range. The deal is done over the phone and a few minutes later,  the trucks have been ordered without even sighting a beast.

The technology is not as far-fetched as it sounds and after the success of trials at Napperby Station, north-west of Alice Springs, could be available to individual producers within the year.

It is the application in the saleyard, however, that could really make a difference to their business, delivering the pot of gold of the beef export industry—lifetime traceability.

"The talk at the moment is that lifetime traceability could be worth up to 20 cents more a kilo as the industry looks to expand into new markets around the world," says Tim Driver, Director of CAWD Livestock, the company that developed the technology.

Driver is at the Bohning Yards at Alice Springs overseeing the demonstration of the sensors to the executive members of the Northern Territory  (NT) Cattlemen's Association.

CAWD Livestock was given a brief by the association to develop an automatic drafting system that would identify and separate cattle that either had a faulty National Livestock Identification  (NLIS) Scheme tag or no tag at all.

While similar systems have been developed over the years, they wanted one that could read from either direction, something that previously had been an impediment.

"This system is unique," Driver says.

"There are a few around that were trialed when the NLIS was first introduced, but I believe this is the only multi-directional drafter that exists. The cattle can run either left to right or right to left through the machine with draft gates or slide gates at either end so it doesn't matter which direction the animals are going, we can still draft them. It just makes installation in yards a lot easier."

Driver says the trial at the Bohning Yards will hopefully be the start of a national rollout into saleyards and feedlots across Australia. "This technology has applications anywhere cattle are traded," he says.
"The main benefit for producers will be that they can send their cattle to the yards and know that all their tags are read and their NLIS data transfers are right. "Hopefully if their cattle are lifetime traceable, they should receive a bit of extra money."

At Bohning, as a demonstration mob moves through the race with the NT cattlemen looking on, Driver reflects on the project that took him around the world in search of information. "We've been working on this sort of technology for 3 to 3 1/2  years, very much starting from scratch," he said.

"We were given an idea about revisiting how animals are managed and we've basically, with a lot of consulting and consultation with producers, built a system from the ground up. I tell you, it's been a very interesting and exciting road. It is an amazing feeling to build a product like this that you can see can have such a major benefit to the industry."



Jandowae Firm Pioneers Laneway Sheep Scanning

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

 Sheep can now be identified electronically, thanks to a major breakthrough in laneway scanning developed by Jandowae-based company Aleis.

The lane way scanning has successfully identified electronic National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) ear tags in sheep.

Describing the trial as a resounding success, Aleis CFO John Finlayson, Jnr. said the Australian sheep industry needed an effective sheep identification and tracking system to enable serious disease outbreaks to be quickly contained.

"Interest in the use of electronic technology is increasing, particularly on large wool growing properties and within sheep meat supply chains," Mr. Finlayson said. "The Victorian Government is now actively promoting the voluntary use of electronic NLIS (sheep) tags as an alternative to the current sheep tracking system, which is based on paper records and visually readable tap.

"The sheep industry has insisted that electronic technology must facilitate the reading of sheep running three or four abreast along a lane way.  Aleis has developed and successfully demonstrated a reader that will achieve this level of performance with 100% reading accuracy," Mr Finlayson said.

"Representatives from the sheep industry,  Meat and Livestock Australia , and Queensland DPI & F were invited to a demonstration of the Akio reader at Kiticorra on November 21 at which the Aleis lane way reader read more than 8OO sheep that had been identified with electronic NLIS sheep tags without missing a sheep."

Mr. Finlayson said the Aleis laneway reader was designed for use in very high throughput situations, such as in a saleyard or feedlot.  Aleis had unequivocally demonstrated that the reader would efficiently and accurately read sheep identified with NLIS (sheep) tags at commercial speeds.  Aleis also had a range of reliable wand and panel readers suitable for use in other less demanding situations.

"The sheep industry can now move forward with confidence with the use of electronics NLIS (sheep) ear tags containing internationally recognised half duplex technology," Mr. Finlayson said.

"This is the technology platform adopted by Australia's NLIS (cattle) system  and now being utilised in the recently accredited electronic NLIS (sheep) tag being supplied nationally by Allflex."

Aleis International is developing a close working relationship with the sheep industry, along with government agencies, to provide electronic ear tag reading equipment for on-farm, saleyard, feedlot, live export, and processing applications.



High-Tech Grassdale - State of the Art Lotfeeding

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

 

 

 

The Grassdale feedlot, 42 kilometres south of Dalby, has allowed Mort and Co. to extend its cattle operations with a well thought-out, ergonomic design.

The first cattle went into the feedlot only 12 months after building commenced on the complex. The construction is new as there were no previous yards of any significance on the 560-hectare property.  The yards now hold more than 30,000 head,  just 2000 short of the stage-one capacity.  With the future stage-two development, Grassdale will hold about 55,000 head.

With 30 staff members now on site, the consistent operating level equates to 2000 - 2500 head a week going in and out. The yards and feedlot are the first large-scale commercial feedlot to be built from the ground up in Southern Queensland in the past decade.

"The beauty of building something from the ground up is the ability to encompass a number of practical things into the site learned from the company's previous experiences," Grazier Services Manager Martin McDonald said.

"The top soil was removed, the pen areas were leveled and shaped to the required gradient, then the area was covered with gravel so the pens will be sound from the start and maintain good drainage.  The yards are designed for staff to spend minimal time with the cattle. The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) was an integral part of the feedlot design being that we have an individual animal management database which all the animal information is recorded on. "

The NLIS function supports that well.  "Cattle on arrival go through a unique NLIS reader lane, enabling us to verify the NLIS integrity of the cattle that is cross checked with the physical count of the cattle.  Off that reader lane, if there are missing or non-reading tags, we can run the cattle through a single file race, which automatically drafts out the cattle with the missing or non-reading tags. Those cattle can subsequently be tagged and sent to their pens with their NLIS integrity complete."

The combination of the reader lane and the automatic drafting is unique to Grassdale and the development of the NLIS reading capability, in feedlot terms, is special. "The accountability of the inventory for our grazier and investor clients is very important to us," Mr McDonald said.  "We have shade in all the pens, with access to two water points and the water points have sewered troughs, thus when cleaned they don't create mud within the pen."  All the internal roadways are bitumen, to reduce dust and reduces the need for water trucks."

"We have a lot of automation, in terms of remote-controlled gates, to enhance the efficiency of the work processes. Where possible in the high-flow areas, we've implemented remote-controlled gates and external walkways, to ensure the safety of our staff so they don't have to be in with the cattle. " The processes supporting the feed management system, the individual animal management system, and the total system ensure that the integrity of the data is sound," he said.

The location of the yards was chosen for its proximity to feed-growing regions. The scale of the farm allows sustainable on-site use of manure and effluent sound separation distance between the feedlot and neighbours. Other factors that governed the decision to build the feedlot included the grain supply on Darling Downs, the proximity to meat processors, the service centres of Dalby and Toowoomba, and access to coal seam gas and water from the extraction from these gases.

Grassdale will be run in conjunction with Mort and Co's other feedlot. Pinegrove, near Millmerran.  Cattle are bought directly from graziers or from sales, the feedlot sourced a large proportion of stock from central and southern New South Wales late in 2007 with many now coming from North, Central, and Western Queensland.

The yards were built by contractors, including Chris Grayson Rural' Contracting, Stark Eagineering, Gatton, Thompson, Longhorn,  Allots,  Aleis International - Jandowae, and Netpro - Stanthorpe. 



Jandowae Company Reaches Worldwide

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

 Jandowae is the new home for an Australian company which markets its product around the world.

Aleis Pty Ltd provided an electronic product which could help producers monitor the performance of individual animals during their entire production cycle. Wambo Council Mayor Cr Mick Cosgrove said they were thrilled to have an industry in Jandowae with such relevance to Queensland and Australia alike.

"It is a marvellous boost for the town to have industry coming into it like this - it was what we have dreamed of getting," Cr Cosgrove said.

Aleis Pty Ltd Director, John Finlayson, said the company could gain many things from operating in a place like Jandowae. "We wanted to set-up our own buildings to manufacture our product and wanted to be in the area where we market our product," Mr. Finlayson said.

"People are keen and there has been a lot of co-operation with the Wambo Shire Council as opposed to the cities where they put obstacles in the road," Mr Finlayson said.  The factory was being built, then two offices, and perhaps a third building which, in total, could employ as many as 25 people at the company. The situation in the long term makes it more competitive and then there is the general atmosphere in the country town where people are that much more friendly and work better," he said.

Wambo Shire Council chief executive officer Cohn O'Connor said the company's importance would only grow with the introduction of the National Livestock Identification scheme. "Other industries will sit up and take notice," Mr O'Connor said. "It is a well established business which says to the world we can operate from a country town.  It says to other companies that there is no reason why a company cannot operate efficiently from Jandowae," he said.

Wambo Shire Councillor Tom Bradley said council's aim was to make it as easy as possible for the company to move to Jandowae and said there would be significant economic benefits as a result.




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