A 400 head feedlot is helping Upper Hunter Valley beef producer Mike Gilder preserve his pastures, despite tough seasonal conditions.
Mr Gilder runs a 350 Angus and Speckle Park breeder herd on his Merriwa property Midlothian, and recently hosted an Alltech Lienert Australia field day.
The long running dry weather has meant breeder numbers have been reduced to 550 head, but Mr Gilder said the preservation of pastures was paramount to the long term success of the beef operation.
The 2100 hectare property property has a mixture of black soil flats and undulating permanent pasture paddocks.
"Once better seasons return the paddocks will be sown down to permanent pastures including clovers, fescues and vetch," Mr Gilder said.
"Additional paddocks will also be created to better manage pastures and further capitalise on the benefits of rotational grazing."
Cattle are watered with a troughing and pipe system fed by bores with central watering points. This allows the cattle to be easily moved from one paddock to the next as part of the rotational grazing system.
"The cows have learned to move between paddocks with ease and ther is no stress from handling at any stage," Mr Gilder said.
Summer forages and winter cereals and pulses are also grown on Midlothian to supply the feedlot.
Maisie Morrow from Landmark Townsend assists Mr Gilder with sourcing feed ingredients as well as in her role as an agronomist.
"It's been a tough couple of seasons here but Mike has done a fantastic job at preserving his pasture base given the dry," Ms Morrow said.
"When the rain does eventually come, he will be in a great position to see growth in his pastures right across the property.
"The benefits are obvious to not over graze so ground cover is maintained and regrowth can occur when it does rain."
The Midlothian feedlot supplies Woolworths with a B-double of cattle a fortnight using predominantly his cattle bred on the property.
The feedlot ration is currently a mixture barley grain, pulses, soyahull pellets, zeolite and Alltech Lienert's Blueprint Beefup - a feedlot supplement including vitamins, minerals and buffers. Barley straw is fed separately in racks.
Shade is a defining feature of the yard, with cattle following the movement of the shade throughout the day.
The breeders are fed a home mix supplement of containing the Blueprint Beefup, zeolite, urea and Optisync - a slow release nitrogen source to maintain a consistent feed source in the rumen for fibre digesting bacteria. Salt is also used to control intakes with daily lick consumptions of between 100-200 grams/head/day.
Alltech Lienert nutritional advisor Toby Doak had been working with Mr Gilder for more than two years and has seen the benefits of preparing cattle prior to entry into the feedlot.
"The cattle are given every opportunity to reach their genetic potential," Mr Doak said.
"Using Blueprint Beefup in the drylick gives the calf the ideal start as its performance in the feedlot or future use as a breeder, is influenced by the nutrition it receives from three months after conception onwards.
"Once calves hit the ground their growth rates are accelerated with creep feeding and grain assist so by the time the animal is feedlot entry weight its health and rumen bacteria are preconditioned to maximise weight gains and performance in the feedlot."