CENTRAL Queensland beef producers Paul and Clare Harris say there has never been anything like leucaena when it comes to growing cattle.
“It’s doubled our productivity and Wagyu cattle have doubled our profitability,” Mr Harris said, who began planting the tree 25 years ago.
“It is just a wonderful plant. Cattle love it. It’s high in protein, fixes nitrogen, does extremely well in drought, and produces terrific growth rates.”
The Harris’ Sunland Cattle Company run some 10,000 full blood and pure blood Wagyu cattle across Ten Mile on the Mackenzie River at Dingo and Old Bombardy on the Isaac River near Middlemount.
The 18,170 hectare breeding operation focuses on producing steers weighing 400-450kg for the feedlot market.
Mr Harris said preference was given to sale cattle and cull females on the leucaena/grass country. Heifers were also run on leucaena up to about 300kg, but were rotated on grass prior to joining.
Some 6000 hectares of the high protein fodder tree is grown on the properties. The Tarampa variety was planted in double rows 1m apart, with 6m spacings between the rows.
Mr Harris said one challenge with leucaena was managing the rampant growth. Additional cattle were brought in to graze the trees to more manageable heights. An end-loader mounted mulcher is used.
The International Leucaena Conference drew delegates from the Americas, Asia, Pacific countries and Australia.