CONSISTENT supply of the right cattle for the job is the key ingredient to long term profitability in lotfeeding.
This is what central western NSW’s Darren and Lisa Frankel have learned from a lifetime in the business.
So when they were looking down the barrel of big cattle shortages and the ensuing lack of ability to source that certain standard in decent volumes of feeders, they took the bull by the horns.
Two years ago they invested in additional backgrounding country to ensure they had a regular flow of cattle that were acclimatised, socialised and “ready to do the job from day one in the feedlot.”
Not only has the move provided enormous efficiencies in the feedlot, enabling them to ride out a period of record costs to buy in feeder cattle, but it has paved the way for their feeding and pen management formulas to work their magic and deliver exceptionally high compliance to the eating quality program Meat Standards Australia.
Their MSA compliance sits at 98.5 per cent, and their compliance to the additional company specifications set by their major buyer, Woolworths, is on par.
That is what gave them the title of 2017 Woolworths Red Meat Supplier of the Year and its prestigious Pat Dempsey Memorial Trophy, named in honour of one of Woolie’s most respected red meat sector men.
The Frankels operate the 2800 head Frampton Flat Feedlot at Tullibigeal, near Condobolin.
Two-thirds of their turn-off, or around 132 head a week, goes to Woolies and the remainder heavier cattle to Teys for the export market.
Frampton Flat has been supplying Woolies since 1991.
The Frankels breed a small number, using Charolais and Angus bulls over a British-based herd, but the majority of the feeders going through Frampton Flat are bought in.
“We do have backgrounders supplying some cattle - we monitor how the cattle perform and go back to the same producers who can give us the article we need,” Mr Frankel said.
“We have built up good relationships and these producers know what we want but there is a limit to what we can get that way.
“When we can’t buy enough cattle locally, that’s when we have to go to saleyards and we were finding putting them straight in on feed caused grief.”
The 2500 hectares of black soil river country with improved pastures “Newlands”, nearby to the feedlot, gave the Frankels the control of supply they needed.
They buy in 300 to 380 kilogram British and British-cross cattle and background them for a minimum of 40 days.
“That means they enter the feedlot mobbed up,” Mr Frankel explained.
“They’ve sorted out pecking orders so there is no stress and they hit the ground running.
“Our sickness levels dropped dramatically and the weight gains came faster.
“It’s made a massive difference.”
The heavier end coming off the backgrounding program are fed onto bullocks for Teys.
Mr Frankel said it had been an ideal way to deal with the cattle shortage and higher prices of the past two years.
“The last thing you want is to turn up at a saleyard and be the one forcing the price up because you’re desperate,” he said.
Around the same time they bought the backgrounding land, the Frankels also put in a tempering mill, which improved grain utilisation and quality.
Mr Frankel said a feedlot was only as good as the cattle it was feeding and the people running it.
Most of the staff at Frampton Flat are long term - “my main feedlot man has been here 22 years and my secretary 23,” he said.