Pasture improvement and smarter nutrition choices are some of the changes planned for cattle farms in Indonesia as the result of the latest knowledge exchange undertaken by a group of 27 Indonesian delegates with agricultural colleges in Queensland.
Yulissa Fitrianis is a vet on a palm oil plantation integrated with a 300-head cattle breeding operation and was determined to experiment with ways of improving pasture as a result of her participation in the six-week Animal Husbandry and Cattle Production course through the University of New England.
She said the three weeks spent in class there, looking at nutrition, grazing economics and supply chains, combined with hands on cattle work at Emerald Ag College and the Longreach Pastoral College, had been an eye-opener.
“We were amazed at the drought and how you have so many cattle,” she said.
“I learnt a great system – you don’t give farm medication; it’s down to natural selection.
“That’s why you’ve got the best animals.”
Different staffing regimes were also an eye-opener to someone used to 20 people for a 2000-head feedlot.
“Here, one person or a family does all the work. Technology allows that here,” Yuli acknowledged.
She said she would be returning home with an action plan to increase the carrying capacity of her business, based on pasture improvement.
Likewise, Afifa Tamrin, who leads a livestock group on a small farm on the island of Sulawesi, is used to a traditional small farm system where the 25 members cut grass and carry it to their 60 head of cattle every day.
“We go to the rice field in the morning and to the cattle in the afternoon,” she said.
Her attention after her Queensland experience is focused on changing behaviour, regarding the waste that could be used as food, and the nutritional value of what’s being fed to their cattle.
“It’s my duty now as the leader to tell of the new way,” she said.
“To change mindsets, I will have to show how much extra energy they can get.
“The local farmers won’t change unless they see it with their own eyes – my farm will be the pilot program.”
This may involve changing from silage rice to soy bean meal.
Afifa also commented on the ability of western Queenslanders to produce in drought times.
“I admire Longreach – it’s been in drought for years but the cattle I saw are so much fatter than our own.
“I’ve seen that you can survive with dry land.”
Project spokesman, Pete Fitzgerald, who works in international development activities with UNE, said the program’s objective was to refresh participants’ knowledge in all aspects of beef production, welfare and marketing and learn from the best practices of the Australian beef production sector.
“A key focus of the training is on helping participants to understand and be able to implement the innovation process in their production systems, rather than just being exposed to technical knowledge,” he said.
The course is in its third year and this time was heavily dominated by private sector participants, some of whom were working with or owned their own smallholder systems, while others worked for large-scale commercial enterprises.
The course is funded by the Indonesia-Australia Partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector.