Does it pay to integrate irrigated forages in a beef cattle breeding operation in north Queensland?

The northern Australian beef industry accounts for approximately half of the national beef herd. It is currently challenged by a range of factors including decline in beef prices, limited live export trade, large farm debt levels, and low return on assets managed. Access to irrigation has been identified as one factor with potential to contribute to growth of the northern Australian beef industry. The development of irrigation for growing pasture and forage crops could extend the ability to sustain cattle through the dry season, a period when forage quality and quantity often limits cattle performance. We used a bio-economic model (Northern Australia Beef Systems Analyser) to investigate the farm-scale impacts of integrating forage crops into an existing cattle breeding operation in the Gilbert catchment of north Queensland. We assessed the feasibility of a range of forage crop types and irrigated areas with consideration of the capital costs of irrigation investment, price movements, and water reliability. This analysis highlights some of the key conditions under which beef producers are likely to benefit from an irrigation development at the farm scale.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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