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Reproductive performance of northern Australia beef herds. 1. Survey of nutritional, breeding and herd health management practices and of the environment

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McCosker, K. D., Jephcott, S., Burns, B. M., Smith, D. R., Fordyce, G., O'Rourke, P. K. and McGowan, M. R. (2023) Reproductive performance of northern Australia beef herds. 1. Survey of nutritional, breeding and herd health management practices and of the environment. Animal Production Science, 63 (4). pp. 301-310.


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/AN17494

Publisher URL: https://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/AN17494


Data concerning the practices and policies of collaborating properties for nutritional, breeding and health management of herds were captured by survey of herd owners/managers (n = 78) at the commencement of a large observational study conducted across northern Australia to identify and quantify the effect of major animal-, management group- and property-level risk factors on measures of reproductive performance. The cooperating herds in this study were considered to be broadly representative of north Australian beef breeding enterprises in terms of geography, size and ownership. Using four broad regional categories, this paper presents descriptive summaries of the management practices and nutritional conditions of cooperating herds in what was known as the Cash Cow project. Property sizes were largest within the Northern Downs and Northern Forest, and smallest within the Southern Forest. The expected average annual growth of yearling steers was >50 kg less in the Northern Forest, compared with the other country types, which also appeared to be associated with the identified production system and turnoff animal. Despite the exacerbated nutrition and environmental challenges and likely increased time required for new managers within the Northern Forest to attain an in depth understanding of the cattle and property dynamics, this region had the greatest incidence of management changes. The nutritional information summarised in this study highlights that available phosphorus during the wet season, as indicated by faecal levels in proportion to dietary energy, was likely to limit animal production within the Northern Downs and Northern Forest. During the dry season, pasture digestibilty and protein levels were likely to be approaching maintenance for cows on ~50% of properties in each country type and that responses to rumen degradable protein were also likely on 50% of properties. Despite this finding, low use of dry season supplements was observed for the Northern Downs, which was partially explained by the high incidence of the management systems based on segregating cows on lactation status and pregnancy. In all country types, the ratio of bulls to cows was higher than the 2.5% recommended for extensively managed situations, while limited use of vaccines to control infectious causes of reproductive loss was also observed. The major conclusion of this study is that there was marked variation in the adaption of interventions to specific businesses, indicating considerable opportunity exists for further adaptation in the region.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:beef cattle, north Australia, production systems.
Subjects:Science > Biology > Genetics
Science > Biology > Reproduction
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Animal culture > Breeding and breeds
Animal culture > Cost, yield and profit. Accounting
Animal culture > Cattle
Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Live Archive:07 Dec 2020 00:08
Last Modified:22 Jun 2023 05:26

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