AUSTRALIA’s newest feedlot is up and running with the Bell family investing in a state of the art facility at Conargo in the Riverina district of NSW.
Following four years of planning and a 12 month build, the feedlot has a capacity of 5000 cattle plus 15,000 sheep. The facility complements Australian Food and Agricultural’s properties and livestock enterprises located throughout the Riverina and Central West of NSW.
The annual turnover is expected to be up to 15,000 cattle, supplying both domestic and export markets.
James Sage, who is well known in the Dalby district as a former manager of the Gibson family’s Olinda Park Feedlot, is the feedlot manager. He oversaw the building and commissioning of the new feedlot designed by consultant Peter Paradise from Wagga with technical support from Rich River Irrigation.
The construction phase was carried out by a large number of Deniliquin-based businesses, including Druitt Earthmoving, Gallaghar Stockyards, Murray Construction, and O’Connor Fabrication.
Interestingly, Conargo is located on the same longitude as Amarillo, Texas, the recognised centre of lot feeding in North America.
The feedlot is divided into two. The first is set aside for traditional 100 and 70 day feeding programs. The second is a long-fed 240-plus day ‘natural feed’ program, which involves a ration excluding any antibiotics, ionophores and GM ingredients.
The ‘natural feed’ ration includes the Alltech products Yea-sacc, a rumen specific live yeast that stimulates fibre digesting bacteria and lactic acid utilising bacteria, and Actigen, a binder that prevents pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella developing in the hind gut and assists with nutrient uptake through the wall of the small intestine.
“There is certainly increasing demand for natural fed cattle, and there is an expectation numbers in this feeding program will increase considerably,” Mr Sage said.
“There is even a separate mixing wagon and supplement tank to ensure no cross contamination between the feeding programs.”
Custom feeding is also being offered at Conargo.
The 5000-head capacity facility is run with eight full-time and three part-time staff.
The cattle are fed 60-70 per cent of the feed ration each morning starting at 8.30am, using two 30cu m Jaylor twin screw vertical feeders.
The balance of the ration is used to top up the bunks from early afternoon.
Feedlot consultant Phil Dew from Integraterd Animal Production in Toowoomba oversees the nutritional requirements of the cattle.
The feed yard has been designed for stress free livestock handling, with a focus on staff safety and the longevity of the facility.
“We want to ensure that there is an environment where the feed and water quality presented to the cattle each day maximises feed intakes and ultimately liveweight gains,” Mr Sage said.
“We’re very fortunate to have a capable, committed crew to make it all happen.”