Effects of earlier mating and improved fertility on emissions intensity of northern beef production

CSIRO Livestock IndustriesWhole farm systems analysis from the WFSAM project

There is significant potential to improve the efficiency of northern Australian beef production systems through more intensive grazing management, breeding and genetic selection. Such improvements may also lower the emissions intensity of production by having fewer unproductive livestock on the property (ie. cows and heifers that do not have a calf) and reducing the time to achieve market weight.

Researchers used two case study properties in western Queensland to investigate the effects on emissions, production and profitability when herds were managed to achieve high reproductive performance (i.e. higher weaning percentages) and earlier joining of heifers.

Both strategies increased turnoff and reduced the emissions intensity of beef production in northern Australia, with increased weaning rates contributing most to these improvements production efficiency. The increased production efficiency came about because the number of unproductive cows was minimised, mean breeder weight was lower, and weaning rates were higher.

These results show that improving efficiency of production through increasing weaning rates, early mating and cross breeding is a highly profitable strategy for northern beef producers, though additional investment may be required in fencing or watering points to achieve this improvement in management efficiency.

Key researchers


Cullen B, Eckard R, Timms M, Phelps D (2016). The effect of earlier mating and improving fertility on greenhouse gas emissions intensity of beef production in northern Australian herds. The Rangeland Journal, 38, 283-290, http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ15063.

Cullen BR, Timms M, Eckard RJ, Mitchell RA, Whip P, Phelps D (2013). The effect of earlier mating and improving fertility on emissions intensity of beef production in a northern Australian herd. Proceedings of the 2013 International Greenhouse Gas and Animal Agriculture Conference, 23rd to 26th June 2013, Dublin, Ireland.

More information

Research Theme


Project Status


Project Leadership

Dr Christie Ho
  • Dr Christie Ho
  • Senior Research Scientist
  • Agriculture Victoria

Richard Eckard
  • Professor Richard Eckard
  • Director
  • Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre

Richard Rawnsley
  • Dr Richard Rawnsley
  • Senior Research Scientist
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

Fact Sheet

Project Team

  • Dr Brendan Cullen
    University of Melbourne
  • Dr Matthew Harrison
    Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • Dr Alexandria Sinnett
    Agriculture Victoria
  • Karen Christie
    Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • Natalie Doran-Browne
    University of Melbourne

Funding Organisations

  • Agriculture Victoria
  • Australian Wool Innovation Limited
  • Dairy Australia
  • Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Meat and Livestock Australia
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • University of Melbourne

Collaborating Organisations

  • Agriculture Victoria
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture