Australian farmers feeling the most confident about the future

Monday, June 06, 2011

Food and agribusiness bank, Rabobank Australia, released its quarterly rural confidence survey which questioned about 1200 farmers across Australia and found that confidence had moderated compared to the prior quarter, but was at the highest level recorded for the second quarter since 2001.

Farmers were buoyed by favourable commodity prices and good autumn rains, with 42 per cent expecting conditions to improve in the coming year, compared to 48 per cent in the prior quarter.

Many farmers had received abundant summer rain and a top-up in autumn, which was good for the start of the winter cropping season, and prices for beef, sheep, and grain were relatively firm given strong demand and short supply.



Yea Saleyards to be Covered

Monday, June 06, 2011

 

 

If all goes to plan, Yea's saleyards will be roofed within a year, according to Murrindindi Shire councillor John Walsh.

Roofing of the yards is part of a $1.12 million redevelopment earmarked in the Murrindindi Shire Council 2011-2012 budget estimates.

Cr Walsh said the project had been made possible with a proposed $400,000 state government grant, secured last year as a Coalition election promise. The remaining funding would be provided through council loans.

Cr Walsh said the redevelopment would be in three stages, beginning with an $800,000 roof over the 2.5ha pens and loading races.

This would be followed by a canteen and offices, and then weighing facilities and a truck wash.

Cr Walsh said a project manager had been appointed to finalise planning issues and designs, which would then go to tender. He said the shire was confident that construction could proceed with minimal disruption to the 18 sales scheduled for 2011-12.

And while Yea saleyard fees were among Victoria's lowest at $6 plus GST per animal, or $7 plus GST for a cow and calf, Cr Walsh said the saleyards were very profitable.

Last year, Yea, had a throughput of 25,000 head, generated revenue of nearly $170,000 and had a profit of $50,000.



MLA's eat meat campaign

Monday, June 06, 2011

Food envy — there is nothing worse. And,  just in case you're not sure what it is, watch Meat and Livestock Australia's latest television commercial in its "Nothing Beats Beef" campaign. The commercial - which went to air this week - shows a couple in a cosy restaurant on a chilly winter's night. He orders the beef curry. She orders the salad.The plates arrive, one steamy and succulent and the other a pile of lettuce.  And there you have it — food envy!

MLA general marketing manager Glen Feist said the latest campaign was designed to drive beef demand during winter.

"Australians crave hearty, warming slow cooked meals such as beef casseroles, curries, pies and beef roasts in winter," Mr Feist said. "This phase of the campaign aims to remind them of their love for these tasty, value for money beef meals as the weather cools."

The campaign includes radio promotions, television segments and competitions



Live export ban bill

Monday, June 06, 2011

Independant MP Andrew Wilkie wants to ban all live exports within three years.

The Tasmanian independent will meet with Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig this afternoon to outline his private member’s bill to immediately ban cattle exports to Indonesia and a three-year phrase out plan for all live trade.



Blind Eye Turned to Cattle Cruelty

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The directors of Meat and Livestock Australia and LiveCorp have failed in their duty of care for the Australian livestock industry and specifically beef cattle welfare in Indonesia.

The cattle abuse is so bad and has been going on for so long under their watch that they should apologise to Australian beef cattle farmers, then resign. New regulations on live cattle and sheep exports need to be introduced to ensure Australian livestock are only processed in works which meet Australian animal welfare standards.

The unconscionable component of the cattle welfare abuse in Indonesian abattoirs is the direct involvement by staff of both organisations in the installation of restraining boxes that facilitated the cruelty. Such restraining boxes were designed to allow the animal’s legs to be roped and when the side is opened to ensure the animal falls onto the concrete slab. All cattlemen know this approach is a recipe for an animal to panic and a struggle for it to try to escape – stress, injury and pain are unavoidable.

The subsequent abhorrent and random slaughter process (plus the cruel treatment forcing animals into the box) would have been witnessed by MLA and LiveCorp staff who oversaw installation of the equipment and arranged training with it. It is impossible to believe these people did not report how the slaughter process worked to their management with the information ending up with directors to decide on the moral and ethical outcomes of funding the construction and installation of these restraining boxes and the training needed to use them. In opting to fund and supply these restraining boxes rather than to recommend cessation of supply of cattle to sub-standard abattoirs in Indonesia (and recommending cessation of supply of animals to Middle East markets where sheep are abused), the directors have abrogated their responsibilities.

 

For more information, please go to:  http://fw.farmonline.com.au/news/nationalrural/opinion/comment/blind-eye-turned-to-cattle-cruelty/2181484.aspx



Lotfeeding a prime proposition

Thursday, June 02, 2011
  

There's a certain amount of passion required to lotfeed large numbers of sheep. This is particularly the case if you have anywhere between 5000 to 7000 sheep going through a feedlot each year, such as the two at Brad and Jan Eastough's property between Northampton and Chapman Valley.

In 2002 Brad and Jan moved to Utikka and they farm together with Brad's brother Ashley, his wife Belinda and their parents Kevin and Maureen, over the six properties that make up their 5400 hectare farm.

Brad admits he had always wanted to run as many sheep as possible.

"I would rather run sheep than cropping," Brad said. "What's better than working outdoors on the best days of the year, instead of sitting in an air-conditioned cab?"

Even though the Eastough family has seen their share of tough years and devastating droughts, Brad held onto his sheep when many in the area couldn't. They started lotfeeding sheep in 2006 and purchased any breed of sheep he could from surrounding areas, as many farmers needed to off-load their numbers due to the drought.

"I had always wanted to do it (lotfeeding) and then in 2006 when there was a drought we built a feedlot here," Brad said. "We bought a lot of sheep that were going cheap in the area and later we purchased our own stock truck to cut down on freight."

Even though nearly every type of breed might be purchased to go onto feed for 21 to 28 days, Brad remains truthful to his own flock of 1000 mated Merino ewes, 1000 older Merino ewes mated to Poll Dorset and 350 Merino ewe hoggets.

The Poll Dorsets were purchased in addition to the Eastough's traditional Merino flock 16 years ago and Brad chose the breed for its white wool, good pool of genetics and large frame. After being mated for the first few years with Merino rams, the Merino ewes were then joined with Poll Dorset rams when they reach four years to produce lambs for the prime lamb market.

With a sire battery of 16 Merino rams and 40 Poll Dorset rams, many of which are from the Eastough's own breeding program, the Poll Dorsets are joined on October 25, while the Merino rams are joined on New Year's Eve.

For more on this story, please go to : http://fw.farmonline.com.au/news/state/livestock/sheep/lotfeeding-a-prime-proposition/2175805.aspx?storypage=1

     

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.



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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