Southern sojourn growing trend

Reports by Kate PollardCountryman

Bringing weaner cattle from the north to be finished in the south is an opportunity Liveringa Pastoral Company has seized on.

The business model has been a success in Queensland and for the past three years tried and tested by Liveringa, a Milne Agri-group shareholder.

Liveringa general manager of stations and farms Brett Blanchett told producers at last month's Southern Meat Profit Day the Ranglelands had the opportunity to be an incubator for the South West.

Spurred on by the need to reduce the risk of relying on a single market, 10 years ago Liveringa introduced Red Brangus genetics into its Braham herd.

During this time, Indonesia began to police its 350kg live weight rule and sent self-sufficiency signals to Australia.

The industry is also now required to comply with a government-regulated supply chain assurance system.

But by introducing Red Brangus, which combines the hardiness, disease resistance and maternal instincts of Brahman with fertility and carcase attributes of Angus, Liveringa is producing a softer animal with less hump.

"The north has some of the cheapest agricultural ground to produce weaners but it's not good for trying to fatten cattle," Mr Blanchett said.

Cattle exports are still imperative to Liveringa and new genetics help diversify their risk.

Under the model, Liveringa trucks unsold weaners to agistment properties in the south, between Geraldton and Busselton.

"If we can get our weaners from north to the south on a growth trajectory, the animal can be around 350kg at 12 months old which is a huge advantage," Mr Blanchett said.

If weaners stay up north, Mr Blanchett said they would need to be carried through another wet season and could experience the saw-tooth syndrome, where their growth trajectory took two steps forward and one step back.

Marketing weaners in the same year as production also has benefits to the bottom line. The cattle can be sold later for export or sold locally.

Mr Blanchett said the model benefited pastoralists by increasing production kilograms per annum while decreasing carryover, allowing breeder numbers to be increased.

The aim is to ensure weaning as soon as possible so breeding cattle can maintain condition. The Liveringa model also eliminates the sore tooth growth pattern and reduces the risk of focusing on one market.

"We also increase market access and that is one of the most important factors in the strategy," Mr Blanchett said. Agisters benefit from reduced capital requirement, grazing only at peak feed times and flexibility with stocking rates and seasons.

Fewer breeders need to be fed through summer, risk is spread and returns on existing infrastructure are improved.

Having transported several thousand weaners from north to south in the last three years, Mr Blanchett said there had been no losses because of the professionalism of transporters.

Fast facts *

Who: Liveringa Pastoral Company

Where: Derby

Size: 500,000ha (1.2 million acres) on Liveringa and Nerrima stations

What: 25,000 breeders, cropping and irrigation

Staff: 35

Rainfall: 630mm annual

Other: 70km of Fitzroy River frontage

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