Practice ensures year-round livestock quality

Zach RelphCountryman
Meg Gethin, of Nevana Farms, at the Kylagh Feedlot during the WAFarmers livestock field day.
Camera IconMeg Gethin, of Nevana Farms, at the Kylagh Feedlot during the WAFarmers livestock field day. Credit: Zach Relph

A finishing system preparing young livestock for feedlot environments to underpin quality cattle production is a viable alternative to buying direct from market, a well-known feedlotter says.

Speaking at Kylagh Feedlot near Tammin during WAFarmers’ livestock field day last Thursday, Ivan Rogers spruiked “backgrounding” as a sound method in cattle preparation.

Backgrounding refers to grouping and acclimatising animals before entering a feedlot or intensive finishing system.

The practice prompts production benefits once cattle are on feed, including improved socialisation and feed intake, while also reducing health issues among cattle.

Mr Rogers, the Kylagh Cattle Company principal, told delegates at the event backgrounding was “critical” in his and wife Jill’s livestock operation.

“Backgrounding is a really critical element for us,” he said.

“To deliver our contracts, we need to have a continuous supply of in-specification cattle and they are hard to get.

“Feedlots are high-cost production facilities — high cost of labour, high cost of energy, high cost of capital and a considerable running supply. We are looking at producing a high-quality grain-feed beef.”

Mr and Mrs Rogers have increased Kylagh’s head capacity tenfold since building the feedlot 17 years ago, starting with 500 cattle and now boasting about 5000 animals.

The rise from humble beginnings, according to Mr Rogers, has been dependent on the operation’s focus on cattle welfare through careful pen and feed management.

Mr Rogers said Kylagh’s approach to cattle production allowed for quality livestock supply all year round and ensured supply contracts with processors, including Harvey Beef, were met.

“Feedlots are designed to produce in-specification cattle, regardless of season, week-in and week-out,” he said.

Dongara cattle farmer Craig Forsyth also spoke during the WAFarmers’ tour of Kylagh, outlining how producers could re-enter livestock while limiting upfront costs.

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