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A systems evaluation of high-input management using fortified molasses for beef production in Australia's dry tropics

Fordyce, G. and Coates, R. and Debney, M. and Haselton, S. and Rebgetz, R. and Laing, A.R. and Cooper, N.J. and Hall, R. and Holmes, W.E. and Doogan, V.J. (2009) A systems evaluation of high-input management using fortified molasses for beef production in Australia's dry tropics. Animal Production Science, 49 (3). pp. 177-191.

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Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EA07225

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au

Abstract

The potential of beef producers to profitably produce 500-kg steers at 2.5 years of age in northern Australia's dry tropics to meet specifications of high-value markets, using a high-input management (HIM) system was examined. HIM included targeted high levels of fortified molasses supplementation, short seasonal mating and the use of growth promotants. Using herds of 300-400 females plus steer progeny at three sites, HIM was compared at a business level to prevailing best-practice, strategic low-input management (SLIM) in which there is a relatively low usage of energy concentrates to supplement pasture intake. The data presented for each breeding-age cohort within management system at each site includes: annual pregnancy rates (range: 14-99%), time of conception, mortalities (range: 0-10%), progeny losses between confirmed pregnancy and weaning (range: 0-29%), and weaning rates (range: 14-92%) over the 2-year observation. Annual changes in weight and relative net worth were calculated for all breeding and non-breeding cohorts. Reasons for outcomes are discussed. Compared with SLIM herds, both weaning weights and annual growth were >= 30 kg higher, enabling 86-100% of HIM steers to exceed 500 kg at 2.5 years of age. Very few contemporary SLIM steers reached this target. HIM was most profitably applied to steers. Where HIM was able to achieve high pregnancy rates in yearlings, its application was recommended in females. Well managed, appropriate HIM systems increased profits by around $15/adult equivalent at prevailing beef and supplement prices. However, a 20% supplement price rise without a commensurate increase in values for young slaughter steers would generally eliminate this advantage. This study demonstrated the complexity of pro. table application of research outcomes to commercial business, even when component research suggests that specific strategies may increase growth and reproductive efficiency and/or be more pro. table. Because of the higher level of management required, higher costs and returns, and higher susceptibility to market changes and disease, HIM systems should only be applied after SLIM systems are well developed. To increase profitability, any strategy must ultimately either increase steer growth and sale values and/or enable a shift to high pregnancy rates in yearling heifers.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:© The State of Queensland (through the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries).
Keywords:Growth; Fertility; Genotypes; Industry; Snapshot; Fetal.
Subjects:Animal culture > Cattle
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Animal culture > Cattle > Meat production
Deposited On:16 Apr 2009 02:14
Last Modified:16 Apr 2009 02:14

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