The "Beeflinks" Backgrounding Project

 

Building a higher value beef supply chain in WA by linking pastoral beef to high-value markets through new backgrounding systems.

 

Launching in early 2020, the "Beeflinks" Cattle Background Project aims to increase the gross value of the backgrounding sector. This will be done by collecting data on mobs of northern bred cattle that move through the supply chain and determine factors that increase or decrease productivity.

By working closely with pastoralists, property managers, feedlots, processors and end markets, the use of data-driven decision making will help to define and refine the backgrounding sector.

This project is working toward an integrated beef cattle supply chain between northern pastoralists and agricultural region farmers to increase the number of cattle suitable for processing and sale. It will establish a platform to connect northern and southern producers, lot feeders, and processors to ensure supply continuity for domestic and international markets.

Commencement date: March 2020 | Completion date: January 2023

Funding body(s): Meat Livestock Australia, University of Western Australia
Project Lead Organisation: The West Midlands Group
Collaborators: Gallagher

 

 

The story so far...

 

The project began in March 2020 and since has established relationships with a range of producers throughout the pastoral and backgrounding sectors of the Western Australia beef industry. The project is following cattle through eight different backgrounding avenues with 2813 number currently recording data. The intention is to continue data collection throughout the backgrounding process and along the supply chain to the cattle’s end market. The ability to collect data throughout the supply chain will allow the project to communicate timely and relevant feedback to backgrounders and pastoral producers on current practices efficiency. 

The project also aims to create educational opportunities in the form of workshops or facilitated courses for producers and their managers to benefit in areas of interest such as cattle nutrition, pasture improvement and supply chain involvement.

In 2020, several workshops were delivered to producers through the project.

 

"Beef Cattle Nutrition in Practice" Workshop with Dr John Milton | 20 August 2020 at Joe and Jane de Pledge's Badgingarra property, "Jandawanning"

The fortnightly WMG podcast, Paddock Chat, also produced an episode featuring Dr John Milton speaking on the topic. The episode titled "WA Beef Cattle Nutrition | Putting the Science into Practice" has been listened to more than 100 times since publication in early October 2020, and can be found on all podcast services including Spotify and Apple Podcasts. View the Flyer

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"Optimising Pasture Production" Workshop | 17 September 2020 at Murray and Adele Grey's Yathroo property, "Tarralcaral"

Guest speakers Murray Grey (producer), Grant Bain (producer) and Phil Barret-Lennard (producer and agronomist) shared their experience and extensive knowledge of boosting pasture production. They covered the establishment and management of annuals and perennials and the implementation of rotational grazing. Attendees also had the opportunity to tour multiple improved paddocks on the Greys' property. View the Flyer

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"Walkaway Pastures Bus Tour" | 21 October 2020 at Grant Bain's Walkaway property, "Mount Michael"

A small group of producers travelled together to get a tour of producer, Grant Bain's Walkaway farm to check out the performance of his perennials and hear first-hand his journey improving every paddock on the property over 20 years. View the Flyer

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What is backgrounding?

 

Backgrounding describes the process where livestock are fed and grown to prepare for a greater range of market opportunities and to add value through weight gain. In Western Australia, ‘backgrounding’ often refers to the process of transferring cattle from the northern pastoral regions to the southern regions to be grown out. The complimentary growing seasons of the northern and southern regions mean that cattle can be brought down for the mid-year break of the season when Feed on Offer (FOO) in the southern regions is high.  

 

Advantages

Market Opportunities

Important points

  • Greater market opportunities.
  • Making use of feed during the winter season in the southern regions.
  • Better management of pastures.
  • Greater animal management.
  • Creating greater linkages between cattle producers in the pastoral, Kimberley, and southern regions.
  • Complimentary growing seasons means pasture usage is maximised.
  • Have the support of other backgrounders and the West Midlands Group to develop individual backgrounding operations.
  • Live export – Vietnam, China, Indonesia.
  • Feedlots in Western Australia.
  • Abattoirs – meat packets going to domestic and overseas markets.
  • Creates a more flexible system that can match market demands. 
  • Nutrition is key – the feed must meet the need.
  • Larger animals move through the system more efficiently.
  • Consumer focus is shifting towards ‘paddock to plate’ mentality where knowledge of the lifetime movements and treatment of the livestock before entering the abattoir are sought.
  • This project plans to collect data from cattle from birth onwards which supports this focus. 

 

Want to get involved?

Get in touch with our Beef Industry Development Officer, Erin O'Brien.

 

Mob: 0427 246 846

Email: beef@wmgroup.org.au

Hailing from Perth, Erin graduated from Murdoch University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Animal Science. Since then, she has completed a couple of stints with beef focused operations, including working on a cattle station in the Northern Territory. Erin is looking forward to supporting the development of the pastoral beef supply chain, and in particular, the many backgrounders that grow pastoral cattle out in our region.

 

Useful Resources & Information

Beeflinks Project Brochure