Preliminary findings from a producer demonstration site exploring steer-finishing systems in southern Queensland have found that leucaena can deliver more than double the kilos per hectare of beef grown compared to grass.
Over the past two years, the PDS at Bannockburn near Bell in Queensland has evaluated different steer-finishing systems encompassing improved pastures, leucaena, oats and grain feeding.
Two mobs of European Union-destined steers (~350kg entry weight) were assessed, with 87 head in 2011 and 100 head in 2012.
Approximately three quarters of each mob were run on leucaena-grass pastures for six months up until June, at which point the group was split three ways onto oats, into the feedlot and back onto leucaena.
The remainder of the steers were retained on improved pastures (Bambatsi, Green Panic & Rhodes) for the entire period.
The project team assisted with regular weighings and collected faecal samples to monitor the ongoing quality of the different diets.
The average daily gain on leucaena-grass pastures was 0.7kg/hd/day across both years. The steers running on grass averaged 0.58kg/hd/day and 0.44kg/hd/day in respective years. Weight gains were also recorded for the feedlot and oats.
The stocking rate on leucaena during 2011 was 1ha/head (2.5ac/hd) and 1.67ha/head (4.1ac/hd) on the improved pastures.
As a result, the kilograms of beef produced per hectare on leucaena was double that of grass in the first year, approximately 260 kg versus 130 kg respectively.
Each system has undergone economic assessment and these results are available.
A field day will be held on Friday 26 April at Bannockburn to discuss the findings on the economic performance of the finishing systems, liveweight gains and stocking rates.
A more comprehensive explanation of the project findings will be provided when the final report from the PDS is published later in the year.