Positive grainfed trades on northern Brahman cattle

Jon Condon, 21/11/2013


The decision to retain ownership and custom-feed a large line of drought-impacted Northwestern Queensland Brahman steers and heifers sent south on agistment earlier this year has paid off handsomely for their owners.

The program, put together for a northern client by Townsville agent Tim McHugh from Hogan & McHugh, illustrates the opportunities that do exist within certain segments of lotfeeding – despite recent poor trading results highlighted within Beef Central’s regular trading budget (see this morning’s separate story), and the high rates of grainfed turnoff caused by widespread use of custom-feeding due to drought across feedlots in Queensland and NSW.

With the next quarterly industry feedlot survey result for the period ending September 30 due out in coming days, it seems unlikely that numbers on feed will change substantially from the June quarter, when national numbers reached a six-year high of 873,000 head.

While there may be some seasonal shift in southern states, Queensland and NSW feedlots numbers are likely to remain high, observers say.

In the custom-feeding example outlined here, a line of 2000 young, good quality, high-content Brahman steers and heifers had to be shifted off a Richmond, North Qld property earlier this year due to drought, being sent south to agistment near Goondiwindi and St George.

They were in light condition due to the northern pasture conditions, averaging about 280kg at arrival, before spending three months on oats, where, with the benefit of compensatory gain, they did around 1.5kg/day.

The lead of the steers were then sold off oats as feeders to Whyalla feedlot.

“Being Brahmans, the best money we could get at the time as feeders for the remainder of the steers, averaging 380kg, was 150c/kg, and just 100c/kg for the heifers,” Mr McHugh said.

A decision was taken to custom-feed the lot, with the 1800 steers in the mob, mostly milk-teeth, sent to Lemontree feedlot, and the heifer portion (200) going to nearby Pinegrove feedlot near Millmerran.

“They had really realised their compensatory gain potential already, during the oats phase, but the only reason they went onto a feedlot program was to try to come out at a better c/kg price,” Mr McHugh said.

The steers exiting the feedlot late this week as 70-day grainfed YG have sold for 370c-375c, committed for kills next week at Teys Beenleigh and JBS Dinmore. The heifer portion has already closed-out and were slaughtered two weeks ago, at 365c/kg dressed weight.

“It probably lifted the heifers from being worth 100c/kg as feeders to 130c/kg liveweight,” Mr McHugh said.

“Likewise, the steers would have gone from 150c/kg liveweight as feeders to probably 170c,” he said.

In dollar terms, that was probably worth anywhere from $50 to $100 more per beast, on a c/kg basis alone.

“It was one hell of a positive exercise as a feeding proposition, for a producer facing very difficult circumstances at home,” Mr McHugh said.




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