GAINING an extra month of feed from their pastures due to careful planning and management plus faster pasture recovery after rain are just two of the productivity improvements Victorian beef producers Bill and Georgia Wilson have been able to achieve in the third quarter of the inaugural Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) Challenge.
The Wilsons, who run Angus/Charolais and Speckle Park cattle at Edi, were able to get the best use from their feed on offer during the quarter, and delay supplementary feeding by a month, saving several thousand dollars during the quarter.
“We have a high stocking rate, so feed budgeting and grazing management is never far from our minds and we used all the business decision tools available to us through the MLA More Beef from Pastures program, including the Feed Budget and Rotation planner, and Feed Demand and Stocking Rate calculators,” said Mr Wilson.
“We had little or no pasture growth in the quarter, so we had to make most of what was available, while being careful not to overgraze giving the paddocks the best chance for recovery.
“While in the past we would have just grazed a paddock till it was bare and then moved the cattle on, this time we aimed to keep paddocks above 1000kg/DM/ha.
“We have really noticed the difference since the rain – those paddocks that fell below 1000kg DM/ha are green, but they do not have the volume of the areas that have been optimally managed.”
The Wilsons, along with five other producers across Australia, are competing to improve efficiency and productivity in their farming operations over one year in the MLA Challenge.
The other competitors are beef producers Andrew and Megan Miller from Windorah, Queensland (who lead the third quarter of the MLA Challenge), followed by sheep producers John and Annie Ramsay from Bothwell, Tasmania; sheep producers Marcus and Shannon Sounness from Amelup, Western Australia; beef producers Matthew and Angela Pearce from Adelong, NSW; and beef producers Lachlan and Anna Hughes from Dulacca Queensland.
All six families have seen improvements in their businesses since joining the MLA Challenge due to improving their skills and using tools and evidence as the basis of planning decision-making.
“In the past all our decisions were made on a very short term basis, whereas, we are now making every choice with our long term vision in mind, and ensuring our choices are specific and measurable,” said Mr Wilson.
“We are already seeing improvements in the business, and in three to five years’ time the whole business will be easier to run and performing better as a result of what we’re doing now.”
MLA’s general manager Livestock Production Innovation, Peter Vaughan, said that the third quarter of the MLA Challenge has seen the six families make the most of the information, tools and resources available to them, along with the advice of their mentors, to plan and make business decisions.
The MLA Challenge is supported by Woolworths, Westpac Agribusiness and QantasLink. For more information about the MLA Challenge, the six farming families involved and the resources they are using, visit www.mla.com.au/challenge.