For the Nixons at New Norcia, feedlotting cattle is a means of utilising a portion of their annual grain crop to add value in a livestock enterprise increasingly being overshadowed by the returns in cropping.
Once in the heart of grazing country where livestock drove decision making, today's new technology, more adaptable grain varieties and better cropping techniques has turned that on its head making grain the key influencer on profitability.
Ironically Graham Nixon, his late wife Sandy and late brother Don Nixon moved from Dalwallinu to New Norcia, 130 kilometres north east of Perth, in 1969, when at $63/acre versus $32/acre they could almost double their acreage, albeit of potentially high quality but less developed land.
They first began feedlotting in 1976, one of the worst drought years in WA memory and have continued ever since.
Then it was a necessity to help carry stock through the dry, now it's part of a wider farm management plan at the Border Reivers property worked by Graham, his son Tim, daughter-in-law Natalie and their daughters Abby, 8 and Bronte, 6 years.
Their enterprise finishes up to 1000 cattle a year in one throughput in a purpose built feedlot, with about 25 per cent being home bred calves from their Border Reivers Angus stud, 65pc from three bull buying clients and the reminder sourced through livestock agent Phil Petricevich.
This year they will calve down 320 breeders, with mid-May seen as the optimum time to fit with the break of the season.
Calves are backgrounded, including backlining, before being started on a 90 to 150 day feeding program in late March, using a predominantly home grown ration based on lupins which are bought in, wheat and barley.
"They are turned off in weekly consignments alternating between two decks one week and three decks the next comprising between 24 and 26 head a deck," Tim said.
Initially the Nixons sold their calves on contract to Roediger's abattoir at Northam, but with the demise of that company, they began a partnership with EG Green & Sons and now Harvey Beef, supplying mostly to a supermarket grid of 210 to 290kg dressed weight.
"I think Harvey is as good as anyone and we haven't sold cattle to anywhere else in the last 15 years," Graham said.
"They pay us well and we get the same money for steers as we do for heifers.
"We are very happy with the relationship we have with (Harvey Beef buyers) Campbell Nettleton and Jono Green," he said.
"And I think it has been a real positive having the Forrests owning the works for stability and surety in the future.
"Our dealings are built on mutual trust and the knowledge that we will supply what their company requires.
"Harvey needs scale of supply and we aim to provide that with consistent good quality cattle," Graham said.
Like many WA producers, the Nixons were "caught with a load" when the company went into receivership but were paid later in the year, plus interest.
Their feedlot and sheep and cattle livestock operation is managed by Irish workman Eamon McGee who Graham says has a great aptitude for livestock.
The former carpenter and farmer who came off a family cattle and sheep property in Ireland, is aiming for permanent residency in WA through the skilled migration program.