DROUGHT throughout much of Queensland and the revival of the live export market have changed the face of cattle on feed at Saxby Feedlot – for now at least.
Feedlot manager Craig Forest said the Kilkivan operation was “chockas with 5000 head” and in recent months had departed from its preferred intake of Brahman cattle to accommodate a population that was now about half Bos Taurus-based.
“We’ve got the biggest amount of crossbred cattle we’ve ever had because of two things – live export has stopped a lot of northern cattle from coming down and seasonal conditions have pushed more cattle into feedlots,” Mr Forest said.
Saxby is owned by Eric and Lyn Slacksmith, Gladesvale Station, Richmond, and Marcus and Shelly Curr, Yelvertoft Station, Mount Isa, who bought the feedlot to finish their cattle in years when northern pastures were suffering.
The operation now includes custom feeding, which Saxby does for 17 clients including Kilcoy, Dinmore, Oakey, Nolan and Teys.
“Our cattle normally come from north and north-west Queensland, but now we’ve got a lot that have come from central Queensland and south-east Queensland as well,” Mr Forest said.
He said many of Saxby’s non-typical cattle had come from Injune to Alpha, and had taken the place of others lotfed on-farm by breeders loathe to take unfinished stock prices.
“Some of those that would normally have sold to feedlots or through the yards the producers have decided to finish on-farm themselves.”
While grain prices have skyrocketed in recent months, Mr Forest said lotfeeding had continued to make economic sense, as cattle in store condition continued to respond well to feed rations.
“The compensatory gain has been a big friend to feedlots and has made them look very good,” he said.
“It’s different to other times when we’ve had cheap rations, but you don’t get so much out of the cattle, because they’re in such a forward condition when they come in.”
Cattle turned off from Saxby service vealer, trade heifer, trade steer, Jap ox and export cow markets.
Cattle on feed are split about 50/50 between export and domestic target markets.
As a long, hot summer draws to a close and drought creeps into the Kilkivan district, Mr Forest said the Brahman versus crossbred experience at Saxby had galvanised his faith in Bos Indicus cattle.
“Brahman cattle are such good converters. Dollar for dollar, they’ve always returned us the best,” he said.