DUARINGA Station’s feedlot manager Sarah Donovan may have only been back at home for two years, but she has embraced her role in the family business with open arms.
Ms Donovan grew up at Duaringa Station; a mixed farming enterprise with cropping, beef cattle breeding, backgrounding, and the feedlot business.
The operation as a whole is run over three properties in Central Queensland, including 1100 Droughtmaster breeders at Gogango, a backgrounding block north of Dingo, and the feedlot at Duaringa Station, Duaringa.
Duaringa Station consists of about 3250 hectares of cropping country.
Ms Donovan returned to the family business two years ago, after spending ten years in Melbourne and Sydney working for various grain trading and consulting businesses.
She speaks with an unrivalled passion about her family’s business – which is a source of great pride.
A feedlot was never in the original plan at Duaringa Station, but dropping prices for grain pushed the family towards the development.
Ms Donovan said when her parents, Bruce and Beryl Donovan, built the feedlot in the late 1990s, the price of sorghum had just fallen to below $100/tonne.
“The feedlot is only small, with a capacity of 3000 Standard Cattle Units, but with a small team it certainly keeps us busy,” she said.
“Our ration is driven by what we can grow and the price of those ingredients.
“Predominantly, our ration includes dry rolled wheat but it can also include other grains, depending on availability.”
Despite not originally being in the plan, custom feeding now represents about 50 per cent of Duaringa Station’s lotfeeding operation.
“I guess you can consider it a great risk management tool when it comes to drought and it keeps our numbers turning over,” Ms Donovan said.
“It affords us the opportunity to extract greater value from our grain when grain prices are down and beef prices are more favourable.
“It also allows us to run trials on our cattle such as the value of using hormonal growth promotants, establishing feed to weight gain conversions and the impact of ration variations on performance.”
The family’s cropping program is managed by Ms Donovan’s brother Simon Donovan, and generally produces a variety of course grains, pulses, cotton and silage.
Currently, there is chickpea and durum in the ground.
Ms Donovan said the entire business is reliant on the strong family ties.
“It’s a real family business with all members contributing to its success,” she said.
“I guess my official title is feedlot manager, but being a mixed farming enterprise, you find yourself doing a multitude of things including jumping on a harvester and plenty of office work.”