Dirran producer’s big expansion

Dirranbandi producer Rob Hemming expands cropping operation as feedlot grows


Rob Hemming at his on-property feedlot at Dirranbandi.

Rob Hemming at his on-property feedlot at Dirranbandi.

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It started off as a 150 head opportunity feedlot but the success of the addition on this Dirranbandi property has been the motivation behind a land expansion.

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TWELVE years after establishing an on-farm opportunity feedlot, Dirranbandi farmer Rob Hemming is expanding his cropping and beef operation even further with the purchase of a 3640 hectare neighboring block. 

Mr Hemming now has three properties under his belt, the 3200 hectare property, Beverleigh, 7200 hectare Moorenbah and his new acquisition, Bonniedoon, stretching 3640 hectares which he took over this year.

Almost half of the land is used to grow winter wheat, barley and chickpea crops while the remaining is used to graze their cattle. 

Steers are bought in from Roma, Gunnedah and Tamworth weighing between 250-350kg and then backgrounded.

At about 400-500kg they are inducted into the 1700 head capacity feedlot where they are fattened for at least 100 days on a ration of barley, barley silage, cotton seed and pre-mix to target the Jap bullock market at 610-750kg.

Cattle in Mr Hemming's on-farm feedlot.

Cattle in Mr Hemming's on-farm feedlot.

Due to the forecast dry conditions this winter, Mr Hemming refrained from planting any wheat and barley.

He did, however, pursue chickpeas and planted 600 hectares only to have it eaten by kangaroos.

It’s quite the opposite story of the disasters they faced in 2016 when they deep sewed their chickpea crop into a full profile only to have 30 to 40 per cent of it waterlogged by 100mm of rain.

Mr Hemming is hoping to avoid a third year of growing problems when he plants on the newly developed cultivation at Bonniedoon.

There is plenty to eat for these hungry fellas!

There is plenty to eat for these hungry fellas!

The new property was traditionally a cattle operation and was lightly timbered.

He has gone on to clear 2300 hectares and installed 22km of fencing based on suitable soil types for growing crops.

Mr Hemming said initially the feedlot was an opportunity and was built with electric fences and self feeders but it had grown into value adding for their barley and white grain that had almost never been empty.

While the acquirement of Bonniedoon would allow them to plant more crops, he said they wouldn’t expand their feedlot due to their restrictions of their proximity to the town of Dirranbandi, but they would look at developments in the paddock.

“In terms of our enterprise we probably wont have enough grazing acres for the amount of farming acres (on Bonniedoon),” he said.

Rob Hemming has spent considerable time and money improving his new property to expand their operation.

Rob Hemming has spent considerable time and money improving his new property to expand their operation.

“We will probably grain assist in the paddock as well as feedlot.”

The feedlot has been very valuable this season. Four new pens were added onto the feedlot and were put straight to use with Mr Hemming forced to empty his paddocks and put everything through the feedlot due to the lack of grass. 

He did have a small Santa breeder herd but intends to fatten and sell them off to focus solely on buying in cattle.

“I think with breeders for us the variability in the season, you struggle to run them somewhere in the dry,” he said.

“We have completely emptied our paddocks here, there is not a beast running on grass just because it was too dry so if you have got cows, it breaks your heart, you can’t afford to feed them in.”

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