ON March 21 it was the Richmond Shire’s Rabobank Beef Challenge group turn to conduct the first weigh-in of their challenge cattle for 2013.
The Richmond Challenge cattle represent 11 properties and at the weigh-in cattle showed an average daily weight gain of 0.53kg since the last weigh day in November 2012. In an update of information from Tim Driver, Precision Pastoral, weight data gathered from the automatic weighing equipment showed that there had been little to no weight gain throughout February but an inch of rain in late February has given the cattle a kick in recent weeks with gains up to 0.41kg/hd/day on March18.
From data collected by the equipment so far this week, these gains are beginning to plateau out. The Richmond paddock is equipped with automated walk-over weighing scales and auto-drafter which since October 31, 2012 has been drafting the animals into three separate treatment groups – one group receiving a 30pc urea lick, on group a production lick and the third group no lick at all.
Although this district has had very little rain, it was decided to keep the trial running in the same paddock for a further eight weeks. Alister McClymont said that despite the small numbers in the trial, seeing how different breeds reacted to drought conditions would provide them with interesting information.
The group intend to continue feeding lick to the two groups receiving it already and start feeding M8U+R as soon as possible to the control group which has not yet received any form of supplement.
The next weigh-in day will be May 16. This date was decided on the basis that the challenge graziers agreed to monitor the steers’ weight performance for eight weeks and then make a decision on whether or not to sell the stock.
The Richmond group will also be trialling the use of a seaweed supplement put into the water trough which other trials have suggested make cattle a lot calmer. A big plus when working in the yard and for transporting.
Mr McClymont said he had heard about a trial at Pigeon Hole in the NT where seaweed was fed to one control group and mineral supplement to another group for three months. The weight gain was the same but the Seaweed cost 75c compared to $1.75 for the mineral supplement.
Agrimix General Manager Iain Hannah and JCU lecturer and researcher used the Richmond weigh-in as an opportunity to check on the progress of the Progardes variety of the Desmanthus legume trial plot they planted last year.
The legume has proven extremely successful in central and southern Queensland where over 10,000ha have been successfully established. The Progardes has been proven to have 20 per cent protein content in the leaf and up to 12pc in the stem.
Agrimix are now at the stage of commercial production in Central Queensland and with several trial plots across the north-west including a 250ha plot near Hughenden, Mr Hannah is confident it will prove to be a big plus to beef production in the north.