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.
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.