Livestock exports home on the range

Rueben HaleCountryman
International Livestock Export stock handler Luke Reid and farm manager Zach Kealy at the company's Toodyay cattle property.
Camera IconInternational Livestock Export stock handler Luke Reid and farm manager Zach Kealy at the company's Toodyay cattle property. Credit: Rueben Hale Countryman

An old Toodyay sheep and cropping property has everything a live cattle exporter could want, according to Perth-based International Livestock Export.

ILE Toodyay farm manager Zach Kealy says the job to convert a humble sheep farm of yesteryear to a property capable of holding up to 3000 head of cattle has been a worthwhile challenge.

ILE has grown to become a major player in the Australian livestock export industry, shipping cattle, sheep and goats annually to South East Asia and the Middle East.

Mr Kealy said the old farm was packed with feed storage infrastructure, which could be used as a backgrounding facility or for mother and calf and was only 40km from the company’s Gingin feedlot.

ILE purchased the 3200ha property in March last year and since then have refurbished bores, pipes, tanks and fences.

“When we began operating here the dams were very shallow to suit sheep stock and with the low rainfall years throughout the area in recent years salinity was a problem and we knew the future viability of the property as a cattle farm was dependent on accessing reliable water above all else,” Mr Kealy said.

“The investment in the refurbished bores has paid off for us because now have an abundant supply of good quality water,” he said.

Mr Kealy said the property is now ready to ramp-up its operations and take advantage of the high rainfall this year.

“We have been leasing-out some of the paddocks for cropping in a rotation system,” he said.

“In the dryer months the cropping had provided feed for the livestock, but now we are starting to get some of those paddocks back and with the full use of the property we can achieve our stocking targets comfortably.”

Mr Keely said the transition between cropping and grazing land will have to be managed carefully because pasture management is the key to profitability.

“Producing cattle profitably here at the start has had its challenges, but we’re fairly confident the operation will start paying for itself fairly quickly with all the new infrastructure,” he said.

“Last year the false start to the season killed off what was promising to be shaping up as a magnificent year, but this year with the consistent rains, we’re fairly confident the paddocks will be abundant with good clovers and grass.

“But in this year I’ve been able to re-pasture several of the paddocks that have been very depleted from years of drought. The excellent seasonal rains have meant I have been able to really build up the paddocks since late January this year.

“We’re confident the pastures will grow quickly with the warmer spring temperatures and we’ll have more feed on the ground here than we will know what to do with and that will be a situation we’ll all be very happy about.

“When that happens the boss will be sending much more cattle I’m sure.”

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