Kennedy Valley graziers' intense grazing management practices pays off

Updated January 31 2022 - 9:05pm, first published January 28 2022 - 1:00am
Halle, Peter, Elin and Mariah Chiesa, Palm Creek Brahmans, Ingham.

A new focus on the land underneath their cattle's feet is racking up wins for Kennedy Valley graziers near Ingham.

The Brahman graziers Peter and Mariah Chiesa have seen a major improvement in pastures since they began changing their grazing management practices six years ago, moving to smaller paddocks and grazing the land more intensely.

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"We had 130 hectares of cane, banana (and guinea grass) that was fenced into six paddocks - we've pushed it out to 16 paddocks averaging five to seven hectares with a solid 60 per cent of the pasture now being improved species with a heavy legume influence,'' Mr Chiesa said.

"It allows us to manage our feed a lot better, and to have our finger on the pulse when it comes to selling cattle at an optimum time."

The Chiesa's Kennedy property was showcased at a field day in the Tully region, hosted by the farmer-led group Lower Wet Tropics Soilcare and supported by Terrain NRM.

Third generation farmer said Terrain's grazing management workshops, held in the Tableland and Ingham regions, had inspired him to look at his management of grazing land from a different angle.

"Breeding cattle is long-term project and learning how to manage the country is part of it,'' Mr Chiesa said.

"We're always looking for ways to run our country better. I'm not a big fan of applying synthetic fertiliser so I'm interested in different approaches.

"We run all our cattle in one herd now. We have minimal inputs. With smaller paddocks, they always have fresh feed available. We move them regularly. In the wet season that can be every couple of days.

"When we had the bigger paddocks, we'd have parts that were always overgrazed and parts that were overgrown or underutilised. Now cattle can evenly graze paddocks, allowing the more desirables a chance to grow, spread and thrive."

Mr Chiesa said they prefer intensive grazing, in a way to improve their country to be more in line with nature.

"We put a bit of stress on a paddock, eat the grass down and then give it a rest for a time period that depends on the paddock's recovery," he said.

It could be anywhere from two weeks to four months. With the rest period, grasses can send down their roots, set carbon and sugars into the soil and grow a healthier plant with better water retention and nutrient value.

"Grasses are coming up without us planting a thing. There has been a big improvement in the land and in turn we are providing more protein and energy for our cows."

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