Beef productivity programs

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Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) beef productivity program seeks to increase beef productivity andenterprise profitability through improved nutrition and supplementation including manipulation ofrumen function, enhanced breeder herd fertility, increased calf survival and optimising marketspecification compliance of grass-finished cattle.

These investments are complementary to producer adoption activities that will create opportunities to achieve impact and practice change.

A huge volume of research, development and adoption programs are focused on or relate to profitability. In 2017/18, these programs include, but are certainly not limited to:

FutureBeef

FutureBeef aims to assist graziers and the beef supply chain in northern Australia to increase productionprofitability and sustainability. FutureBeef is driven by the National Beef production Research,Development and Extension Strategy, which aims to build wealth for those in all sectors of the beefindustry, by being market-driven and sustainable. A key adoption program under this platform is GrazingLand Management.

Meat Standards Australia (MSA)

MSA is an independent eating quality standard developed in Australia 20-years ago. MSA continues to enjoy strong uptake throughout the supply chain. During 2016–17, the MSA beef program returned an additional $120m in farmgate returns despite tighter supplies due to reduced slaughter numbers. Nationally, 40% of adult cattle slaughtered were graded for MSA. Feedback from MSA is now flowing back to producers who are able to individually tailor benchmarking parameters togain context of their herd’s performance. They can apply that knowledge to better inform their on-farm decisions and realise additional profit.

Objective Carcase Measurement

Objective carcase measurement with technologies such as DEXA (Dual Energy X Ray Absorptiometry) provides timely, accurate and objectiveinformation on the lean meat, bone and fat composition of each carcase at processing. This informationcan help the entire red meat value chain make more informed business decisions to improve on-farmand processing efficiency and deliver a product which is preferred by consumers.

Livestock Data Link (LDL)

LDL is an online carcase feedback resource designed to inform the supply chain of the opportunity cost of missing market specifications, is becoming a more powerful and useful tool for producers. Introduced as a pilot project in 2012, LDL is now being used, at varying levels of capability, by 25 different processors across multiple sites Australia wide.

Increased use of legumes

Leucena is a legume that is highly palatable to cattle and improves productivity as well as reducing emissions from their ruminant digestion systems. Recently a ‘redlands’ variety of leucena has been developed with two commercial seed suppliers established in Queensland. A partnership between the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia; University of Queensland; and MLA Donor Company has also developed a sterile hybrid of leucena, which will mean it is able to be used in new regions including NT and northern WA.

Profitable Grazing Systems (PGS)

The industry’s new on-farm extension and adoption program, PGS, is being rolled out to producers following the success of the MLA pilot program. The pilot included 10 groups of beef, sheepmeat and goatmeat producers, with each group working in a supported learning environment under the guidance of specialist coaches. A total of 130 producers and 96 businesses participated in the pilot. The aim of the PGS program is to encourage and support red meat producers to develop and implement management skills and lift productivity and profitability. A review of the pilot found that producer knowledge, attitude, skills and aspirations increased from an average of 46% before the pilot started to 76%.

Grazing BMP

Established initially to focus on reducing soil and nutrient run-off to the Great Barrier Reef. The Queensland program is a partnership between Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, AgForce, and Fitzroy Basin Association. This partnership now delivers the program with NRM groups across Queensland. Grazing BMP uses a voluntary online self assessment tool to develop and implement a best management practice program for the grazing industry. The tool consists of five modules covering all aspects of the enterprise that ultimately help lead to a more profitable enterprise

Pasture health

Pasture health is essential for profitability. Following reports by producers across central Queensland about widespread die back of pastures including buffel grass and native bluegrass, a project was instigated by MLA in April 2017 to map and address recent pasture dieback. The plan brings together producers, researchers and experts to better understand the extent of the pasture dieback and to find both short and long-term solutions.

Genetics

Improved genetics is a critical pathway to improved productivity and profitability. In a world-first in the field of genetic evaluations for cattle, a move to ‘single-step genetic analysis’ for the Brahman breed in Australia has been undertaken. Single-step genetic analysis combines genomic and pedigree information with performance records to calculate estimated breeding values (EBVs). It enables Brahman breeders and buyers who use EBVs to have access to more accurate, reliable data and increased ability to select for a wider range of production traits when using BREEDPLAN. Single step genetic analyses have also been tested for the Angus, Hereford and Wagyu breeds and have begun to beimplemented.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) beef productivity program seeks to increase beef productivity andenterprise profitability through improved nutrition and supplementation including manipulation ofrumen function, enhanced breeder herd fertility, increased calf survival and optimising marketspecification compliance of grass-finished cattle.

These investments are complementary to producer adoption activities that will create opportunities to achieve impact and practice change.

A huge volume of research, development and adoption programs are focused on or relate to profitability. In 2017/18, these programs include, but are certainly not limited to:

FutureBeef

FutureBeef aims to assist graziers and the beef supply chain in northern Australia to increase productionprofitability and sustainability. FutureBeef is driven by the National Beef production Research,Development and Extension Strategy, which aims to build wealth for those in all sectors of the beefindustry, by being market-driven and sustainable. A key adoption program under this platform is GrazingLand Management.

Meat Standards Australia (MSA)

MSA is an independent eating quality standard developed in Australia 20-years ago. MSA continues to enjoy strong uptake throughout the supply chain. During 2016–17, the MSA beef program returned an additional $120m in farmgate returns despite tighter supplies due to reduced slaughter numbers. Nationally, 40% of adult cattle slaughtered were graded for MSA. Feedback from MSA is now flowing back to producers who are able to individually tailor benchmarking parameters togain context of their herd’s performance. They can apply that knowledge to better inform their on-farm decisions and realise additional profit.

Objective Carcase Measurement

Objective carcase measurement with technologies such as DEXA (Dual Energy X Ray Absorptiometry) provides timely, accurate and objectiveinformation on the lean meat, bone and fat composition of each carcase at processing. This informationcan help the entire red meat value chain make more informed business decisions to improve on-farmand processing efficiency and deliver a product which is preferred by consumers.

Livestock Data Link (LDL)

LDL is an online carcase feedback resource designed to inform the supply chain of the opportunity cost of missing market specifications, is becoming a more powerful and useful tool for producers. Introduced as a pilot project in 2012, LDL is now being used, at varying levels of capability, by 25 different processors across multiple sites Australia wide.

Increased use of legumes

Leucena is a legume that is highly palatable to cattle and improves productivity as well as reducing emissions from their ruminant digestion systems. Recently a ‘redlands’ variety of leucena has been developed with two commercial seed suppliers established in Queensland. A partnership between the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia; University of Queensland; and MLA Donor Company has also developed a sterile hybrid of leucena, which will mean it is able to be used in new regions including NT and northern WA.

Profitable Grazing Systems (PGS)

The industry’s new on-farm extension and adoption program, PGS, is being rolled out to producers following the success of the MLA pilot program. The pilot included 10 groups of beef, sheepmeat and goatmeat producers, with each group working in a supported learning environment under the guidance of specialist coaches. A total of 130 producers and 96 businesses participated in the pilot. The aim of the PGS program is to encourage and support red meat producers to develop and implement management skills and lift productivity and profitability. A review of the pilot found that producer knowledge, attitude, skills and aspirations increased from an average of 46% before the pilot started to 76%.

Grazing BMP

Established initially to focus on reducing soil and nutrient run-off to the Great Barrier Reef. The Queensland program is a partnership between Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, AgForce, and Fitzroy Basin Association. This partnership now delivers the program with NRM groups across Queensland. Grazing BMP uses a voluntary online self assessment tool to develop and implement a best management practice program for the grazing industry. The tool consists of five modules covering all aspects of the enterprise that ultimately help lead to a more profitable enterprise

Pasture health

Pasture health is essential for profitability. Following reports by producers across central Queensland about widespread die back of pastures including buffel grass and native bluegrass, a project was instigated by MLA in April 2017 to map and address recent pasture dieback. The plan brings together producers, researchers and experts to better understand the extent of the pasture dieback and to find both short and long-term solutions.

Genetics

Improved genetics is a critical pathway to improved productivity and profitability. In a world-first in the field of genetic evaluations for cattle, a move to ‘single-step genetic analysis’ for the Brahman breed in Australia has been undertaken. Single-step genetic analysis combines genomic and pedigree information with performance records to calculate estimated breeding values (EBVs). It enables Brahman breeders and buyers who use EBVs to have access to more accurate, reliable data and increased ability to select for a wider range of production traits when using BREEDPLAN. Single step genetic analyses have also been tested for the Angus, Hereford and Wagyu breeds and have begun to beimplemented.