Springsure cattle producers Adele and Dave O’Connor have become the first graziers in Queensland to have their Grazing Best Management Practice (BMP) accreditation renewed.
Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries extension officer Matt Brown said the O’Connors first got involved in the BMP program in 2010 and were part of a group of 10 producers who trialled the original modules.
Formed in 2010, Grazing Best Management Practice Program (Grazing BMP) was developed to assist the grazing industry in improving environmental, ethical and economic factors, as well as assisting in the productivity, profitability and sustainability of enterprises.
Grazing BMP is a self-assessment system used by graziers to benchmark their management practices against standards set by industry utilising best available science.
This process helps graziers to benchmark their practices with confidentiality, compare their performance within the industry and identify opportunities for further improvement. The aggregated information created from these self assessments is collated for promoting industry performance and stewardship to the supply chain, governments and wider community.
The Grazing BMP website says there are now 1650 grazing BMP accredited business on 2050 properties.
Mr Brown said he was delighted to see the O’Connors come back for a second audit to gain a renewed accreditation.
“This shows the benefits of BMP accreditation to graziers, with the O’Connors leading the way and now gaining access to new markets” he said.
Adele O’Connor’s family have held the property ‘Mountain View’ near Springsure for over 100 years. The 6474 hectares property is used as a breeding and fattening operation and is currently stocked with 600 head of cattle, which includes 300 breeders.
“The BMP modules cover a wide range of topics and over the years we have found them to be really useful. So we had no hesitation in going back this year to complete our second accreditation process, which is required every three years,” said Adele.
“Not only have we learnt more about our land and how to plan grazing management, but we have been able to collect the evidence required for animal welfare and grazing land management practices that are required for organic certification and we now have a doorway into this market.”
Being accredited as organic producers has allowed the family to supply the premium organic market with beef, as well as supplying local buyers with organic lamb.
Traditionally the property has run Poll Hereford cattle, with the younger generation of the family introducing Bos indicus bulls including Brahmans and Brafords to increase the tick resistance of the breeders. This has assisted in the property gaining its organic status, as well as the adoption of rotational grazing helping to break the tick cycle.
Dave O’Connor said that they developed the time controlled grazing system about five years ago and since adopting this grazing system, the ground cover has been consistently over 83% across all land types on the property.
“Steers are turned off at 500kg with milk to two teeth to AOM (Australian Organic Meats), as well as heifers that fail to conceive a calf. The cattle are mainly managed in one or two mobs, with dry cattle being separated from the breeder mob at pregnancy testing,” said Dave.
“Land condition is monitored and assessed when cattle are moved from each paddock. The aim is to keep the land condition in B condition, with eroded areas fenced off to ensure that the ground cover re-establishes and does not occur any more damage. Grazing charts are also used as a tool to pasture budget into the future. Approximately 90-100 spell days are implemented between grazing cycles for paddocks.
“Since becoming involved in grazing BMP seven years ago, we have seen our business expand into a number of new markets. By utilising the tools we have gained through BMP we are also able to identify future growth opportunities and plan and budget accordingly.”
One of the key learnings for the O’Connor’s was the importance of good documentation in the grazing business.
“We keep very detailed records on pasture monitoring and feed budgeting, occupational health and safety procedures and animal welfare statements,” said Adele.
Matt Brown explained that producers have to nominate themselves to go through the accreditation process and that it is entirely voluntary.
“Graziers who wish to utilise the Grazing BMP accreditation to endorse their performance need to have completed the modules and to have benchmarked themselves against industry standard. We can then work with the individual grazier to help them meet the requirements of an external auditor,” said Matt.
“Gaining Grazing BMP accreditation helps graziers with supply chain opportunities and it provides formal recognition that the business and natural resources are being managed to a high standard,” Matt explained.
More detail on Grazing BMP at its website here