Locations: Grassdale, Dalby, Qld; Pinegrove, Millmerran, Qld, Yarranbrook, Inglewood, Qld.
Combined capacity: 108,000 SCU
2015 Top 25 position: 4. 2003 position: n/a
MORT & Co has grown from a sole trader operation in 1997 to become Australia’s largest privately-owned independent beef feedlot company by turnoff. The company today sources, feeds and sells 220,000 cattle per year.
Mort & Co is currently the second largest feedlot operator in Australia. Its operations span three feedlots – Grassdale (70,000 SCU near Dalby), Pinegrove (21,000 SCU near Millmerran) and Yarranbrook (17,000 SCU near Inglewood, owned and operated in a 50/50 joint venture with StoneAxe Pastoral Company).
It is also set to add a further 36,000 head to its combined occupancy when a planned site at Gogango west of Rockhampton is built. Further details are anticipated in coming months, but at the date of publication final approval of the Gogango site was still to be confirmed.
However, with firm expansion plans in place within the next three years, Mort & Co appears well poised to become Australia’s largest feedlot operator and manager.
Throughout its growth Mort & Co has innovated and diversified across the supply chain, establishing a range of businesses which complement the company’s core lot feeding operations while also aiming to ensure the sustainability and consistency of its product quality.
Its sphere of operations today includes Mort & Co Farms, Mort & Co Stockfeeds, Mort & Co Transport, Mort & Co Service Centre, Mort & Co Meat and Mort & Co Fertilisers.
Mort & Co today employs a dedicated staff of 270 full-time team members, ranking it among the largest employers in the Darling Downs region.
Founder Charlie Mort was working with Primac on the Darling Downs when he saw the potential to utilise custom space in feedlots to provide abattoirs with what they most needed: a consistent and reliable supply of market-ready cattle.
He established Mort & Co as a supply company working with graziers and investors to source and feed cattle to abattoir specifications, a new approach in the grassfed-dominated marketplace at the time.
Soon Mort & Co was sourcing from hundreds of producers and custom feeding cattle in as many as 14 different feedlots at any given time.
The logistics and economics of coordinating that flow of livestock soon resulted in a decision to move toward an ownership model, which led to the purchase of Mort & Co’s first feedlot, Gunnee Feedlot at Delungra near Inverell, in 2004 (Gunnee was later operated as a joint venture with Sundown Pastoral Company and then sold to Gina Rinehart’s Hancock pastoral arm in 2018).
The creation of the large-scale, state-of-the art Grassdale Feedlot on a greenfield site near Dalby, which grew to become Australia’s largest individual feedlot, established Mort & Co’s leadership position among Australia’s premier specialist lot feeding companies.
In an interview with Kerry Lonergan for the Weekly Grill, Charlie Mort explained that it took about four years to get the licensing and capital together to turn the vision for Grassdale into a reality.
Grassdale stands today as a national showcase of best practice in animal welfare, feedlot management and technology and efficiency and innovation in the Australian beef industry.
“We’re proud of what we do and we were happy to show a lot of people around,” Charlie Mort told Kerry Lonergan.
Mort & Co purchases livestock from Victoria, NSW and Queensland and with a wide selection of feeding programs including Wagyu, Angus and cross bred steers.
Representatives point out the company needs a large footprint to enable all year-round supply that works with seasonal turnover across the eastern seaboard.
To achieve that the Mort & Co team works closely with vendors and agents purchasing, over 95 percent of its livestock requirements direct from vendors properties.
Around 4500 cattle exit Mort & Co’s feedlots every week.
That turnoff supplies a wide range of programs from 100 day SF, HGP Free SF, 150 Day Angus and Long fed Wagyu programs supplying both export and domestic markets.
Mort & Co started as a custom feeder for both investor clients and graziers, but today owns all of the cattle it feeds.
CEO Stephen O’Brien attributes the sustained success of the company over 25 years to the fact that despite having grown substantially over that time, the business has retained the original values upon which it was established:
“We’ve got a pretty robust set of values and commitments and they have been with us since day one when Charlie was a sole trader,” he explained.
“Those values are around trust, respect, communication, and it is making sure that we’re customer focused, quality focused, and those values haven’t changed.”
Mort & Co is widely recognised as a driver of innovation in the Australian lot feeding sector, which has manifested in several ways including:
- the creation of a world-first cotton seed de-hulling facility, providing a breakthrough in feed efficiency gains;
- developing an offtake agreement using unpressurised gas from nearby Arrow Energy wells to run its boilers;
- producing its own electricity from gas fired generators;
- building a 100,000t per year granulated fertiliser manufacturing plant to value-add manure and service the local farming sector; and
- trialling technology such as robotic bunk reading systems.
The company continues to invest heavily in research trials across its feedlots, farms, stockfeeds and fertiliser businesses.
Two large feed additive trials to reduce methane emissions have recently been completed, with results to be published in the coming months.
Contact details for cattle inquiries:
Mort & Co Livestock Team: firstname.lastname@example.org
See Mort & Co website for more information, while Charlie Mort’s interview with Kerry Lonergan on The Weekly Grill podcast can be accessed here.
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This is a very impressive story for a small local family to be able to triumph amongst the multinational forces and all processing power blocks.Well done to all as with this many cattle at hand- the power will rest on the downs here.
Don’t forget the breeders with their overpriced land and all will be good.