A change from breeding to cattle trading plus an increased focus on nutrition is providing benefits during the current dry conditions for Dalby cattle producer John Mackenzie.
Despite the dry weather the Mackenzie family’s pasture across their two properties, 935 hectare Tangalooma and 610 hectare Fourbar, seems to be holding up well due to their grain-assisted feeding program.
Mr Mackenzie has worked out his young trading cattle are eating 47 per cent less grass while he’s providing the nutritional assistance through grain assisted feeding.
“All cattle from the day they get here are on pellets until the day they leave the property,” Mr Mackenzie said.
I find the best method with trading cattle is to make sure you always keep selling out the good quality lead of the mob.
All the young cattle receive two kilograms of Riverina backgrounding pellets per day under Mr Mackenzie’s feeding regime.
The grain is also delivered in regulated cattle feeders.
“Rain, hail or shine I grain assist my cattle,” he said.
In a good season the Mackenzie family turn-off 1000 head of feeder weight cattle per year.
“The numbers we are able to trade depends on whether we can achieve a crop during the winter or summer season,” he said.
They generally source their young cattle from the saleyards, mostly Dalby, but Mr Mackenzie has also been purchasing cattle from other parts of Queensland, including Blackall Saleyards, due to the very high prices in southern Queensland.
“I find the best method with trading cattle is to make sure you always keep selling out the good quality lead of the mob,” he said.
“If you have a deck of good cattle in the lead of your trading cattle then they are best being sold.”
The Mackenzie family purchase cattle between 220 and 260 kilograms and feed them for an average of 200 days if over one kilogram per day weight gain can be achieved.
“I generally sell my cattle to feedlots but the high cattle prices have been making selling cattle back through the saleyards a more viable option at present,” Mr Mackenzie said.
“I found operating on smaller properties in our region that it's more effective to trade cattle due to the fact cows aren't as efficient at converting feed to energy, especially compared to young steers and heifers.
“We are now seeing the benefits from the change.”
A decision three years ago to change from a cow and calf operation to a cattle trading business has provided increased sustainability and profitability for Mr Mackenzie.
“I'm finding it easier to trade cattle during these times of high prices,” Mr Mackenzie said.
His reasoning is; on average it costs $1 per day to feed grain and hay to his young cattle and Mr Mackenzie has calculated his steers gain 1.3kg of weight per day while on feed, now current feeder weight prices at Roma’s Store Sale on Tuesday recorded feeder steers selling to 320 cents-a-kilogram.
“When 1.3kg multiplied by 320c/kg equals $4.16c/kg it makes sense that a profit of $3.16c/kg is worth the feeding costs and effort during the dry times,” he said.