PASTURE growth of 1000kg DM/ha in three weeks thanks to careful management of ground cover during dry periods is just one of one the measurable productivity improvements Queensland beef producers Lachlan and Anna Hughes have achieved in the third quarter of the inaugural Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) Challenge.
The Hughes, who run 7000 Angus-cross cattle over four properties near Clermont and Capella in the north and Dulacca in the south, achieved the dramatic pasture recovery after March rainfall due to their decision to leave “that bit extra” in the paddocks to aid recovery.
“Handling drought involved de-stocking our southern property so we could meet our goal of keeping at least 1100 – 1300 kg of DM/ha in the paddocks to allow the pastures to recover better and faster after rain,” said Mr Hughes.
“Sticking to this decision took discipline, as in previous years we would have grazed the paddocks harder, but it paid off when we had a large rain event in March and saw feed growth of more than 1000kg DM/ha in three weeks.”
The Hughes, 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 Bill and Georgia Wilson from Edi Victoria.
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.
Mr Hughes said he learnt a valuable lesson about making evidence-based decisions during the quarter.
“We destocked the cattle from our southern properties, and the young cattle that remained we put onto a production feeding regime in a paddock with better pasture, but in the following two weeks their consumption of ration jumped by a kilogram per head per day,” said Mr Hughes.
“If I had better used the Feed on Demand (FOD) calculator, via MLA’s Stocktake App, it would have told me there wasn’t enough feed for the amount of time I wanted to leave the cattle in there.
“The MLA Challenge has given us the ability to use tools to assess how much feed is actually in the paddock and how long it will last, and make informed decisions about our business.”
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.