QUEENSLAND grainfed beef supply chain Australian Country Choice has received local council approval to construct a greenfield 65,000 head feedlot on its property Tungamah near Moonie on the Western Darling Downs.
However the company has stressed that it has no immediate plans for construction.
ACC chief executive Anthony Lee said the council development approval for construction was more of a ‘long-term strategic play’ for the company, and did not indicate that construction would start any time soon.
“This is about getting set up for our next ten years,” Mr Lee said.
ACC has undergone a series of changes in its business model over the past two years, moving from dedicated domestic supermarket processor for Coles to a more diversified export focus, incorporating a new Wagyu stream.
Moving from 60-70 day domestic programs to longer-fed Wagyu and Angus cattle meant greater requirement for feedlot space, Mr Lee said.
“Eventually we will need more space, whether that be at existing yards or a new site,” he said.
The 12,300ha five-property Tungamah aggregation near Moonie selected for the proposed feedlot site has been used for cropping and backgrounding by ACC up to this point, providing silage and hay for the company’s Opal Creek feedlot near Millmerran, about 30 minutes away.
Mr Lee said the whole COVID event and the state of the cattle market had slowed plans for investment in feedlot expansion.
“Our customers are certainly all keen to grow the business, but it’s a matter of timing,” he said.
The development application for Tungamah proposed building the site in five stages, to its ultimate capacity of 65,000SCU. It’s not at all uncommon for Australian commercial feedlots to be developed to only a portion of their approved, licensed capacity. Stanbroke’s nearby Bottletree feedlot at Chinchilla is an example, built to only 10,000 head capacity for the first decade or more of its operations.
In its submission to the Western Downs Regional Council, ACC estimated that if built to capacity the project would create 70 full time equivalent jobs across the livestock and mill teams, administration, cropping and waste management.
Mr Lee said the property would continue to be used in a background and fodder production role for the time being.
“The Western Downs Regional Council has been excellent to deal with,” he said.
“They are pro-development and see the jobs potential in an infrastructure development like this,” he said.
Mr Lee conceded that building a new 65,000 feedlot from the ground up, and stocking it, would be a very expensive exercise in today’s market.
“But the dynamics may change again on inputs, once things settle down a little. It’s a matter of timing,” he said
ACC currently operates three feedlots at Brindley Park near Roma, Opal Creek near Millmerran and Brisbane Valley.