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Cattle

4 September, 2020

Girl Power four-year project to investigate heifer productivity

WITH THE OBJECTIVE of improving heifer performance across the northern rangelands, the Desert Uplands Committee will soon commence its Girl Power Project, with the aim of ascertaining which practices are effective for novice females in lifting conception and re-conception rates, body and birth weights, and becoming healthy, life-long productive cows, by following three age cohorts from weaners through to the birth of their second calf.

By Edwina Watson RURAL LEADER JOURNALIST

The project goal is to lift heifer management and female productivity for all northern cattle enterprises. 

Partnering with Meat and Livestock Australia and their Producer Demonstration Site (PDS) program, the Committee is working with Central Highlands Regional Resource Use Planning organisation (CHRRUP) and beef producers of the Desert Uplands bioregion, to trial variances of accepted best management practice (BMP) of young breeders.  

Running over four years, the project’s aim is to ascertain animal, field and fiscal data that will be collected from an array of participating regional beef graziers, with the resultant analysis identifying those better ways to support and background replacement breeders.

Distribution of the results to producers will happen via field days and news stories. 

The Girl Power Project will be launched at a 'field day' to be held in the Ken Wilson Pavilion of the Barcaldine Showgrounds on Wednesday, September 9.

Guest Speaker Russell Lethbridge will talk of how they have improved their cattle herd's productivity across their properties. 

Russell and Donna Lethbridge have been able to lift their weaning rates by more than one-third, reduce breeder mortalities to 0.5 per cent and improve turn-off weights by 15 per cent.

And to further prove it's not just theory from a book, the couple's Werrington Cattle Company, based north of Hughenden, operates in a harsh environment where any theory is well and truly put to the test.

Another speaker will be Geoff Niethe, principal of Niethe Consultancies and consultant to MLA, who will lead the day's presentations on best management practice for young females in Australia's extensive northern grazing enterprises.

Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Biosecurity Officers will provide further information on pertinent feed and disease issues, whilst also proffering updates on pertinent regional matters coming into summer. 

Through partnering with CHRRUP, Ed Wood is the Project Officer who'll be working with participating producers over the four years.

The two Producer Demonstration Sites will collect extensive information on many aspects, with a further 10 core producers following through 50-plus of their heifers from three consecutive years - from weaning through to mature breeders.

Developing and implementing enterprise-specific Heifer Management Plans, the heifer cohorts will be pregnancy tested and weighed annually, with forage budgets, NIRS dung sampling and further data collection on growth, calving, sires, supplements and paddocks.

Once collected and analysed, the data sets will be shared through field days and workshops, enabling a wide group of observer beef producers to learn how to easily, effectively and efficiently tweek their operations to give the replacement females the best start and lifelong productivity. 

The long dry combined with recent good money for cull females has reduced northern breeder numbers, and producers are encouraged to refocus for a rebuild by attending this first Girl Power Project Field Day. 


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