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Community & Business

29 April, 2021

Beefplan meeting shares information

TABLELAND beef producers gathered near Malanda on Sunday, April 18 for another informative Beefplan Group Meeting to catch up with what has been going on in their industry and with each other.

Greg Binnie of Upper Barron chats with Mandy and Liam Postle of Beatrice Hills Brangus Stud, Millaa Millaa. Mandy and Liam said they enjoyed coming to the Beefplan meetings as they learned something new each time they attended


TABLELAND beef producers gathered near Malanda on Sunday, April 18 for another informative Beefplan Group Meeting to catch up with what has been going on in their industry and with each other. 

Chairman Dave Andersen led the group through a variety of topics including the New Zealand Government's recent decision to ban live cattle exports by sea, with a two-year phase out period. 

Their Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the decision upheld New Zealand’s reputation for high standards of animal welfare and while it would affect farmers, exporters and importers, the transition period would help the sector adapt.

Based on recommendations that came out of The Heron Report, following the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1 in a cyclone last September, Mr O'Connor believed his country must stay ahead of the curve in a world where animal welfare was under increasing scrutiny.

Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Water and the Environment David Littleproud meanwhile has no plan to follow suit, saying the phasing out of NZ animal exports by sea was a matter for the New Zealand government and Australia had no plans to suspend or ban live animal exports.

He said the Federal Government was confident in Australia's standards, regulations and laws to ensure high standards of animal welfare for livestock exports and continued to support the live animal export trade and its contribution to our economy. 

In other good news, Mr Andersen announced the dung beetle grant application lodged by Remarkable NRM's Louise Gavin last year, had been officially approved. Ms Gavin has just signed the contract with the National Landcare Program and returned it to them. 

She said the project, “Building Numbers and Varieties of Dung Beetles with Atherton Tableland Beef and Dairy Farmers, for Improved Soil and Water Health” should get under way towards the end of May and would run for 18 months, as one of four dung beetle projects operating across Australia.

There may be spaces for a few more participants from the Atherton, Herberton and Barron/Johnston River catchment areas. Participants would be required to gather monthly dung samples for analysis and would be eligible at the end of the 12 month period, to receive a colony of dung beetles, of a species that were low in numbers on their property, but were known to survive well in the area. 

Most of the farmers involved in the previous trial will remain in the new project, building up the data base and providing peer support to new members. An excited Ms Gavin said she will spend a month setting up the project, collect data for 12 months, hold a field day in early 2022 and then spend several months collating and analysing the new data. 

Producers were advised that JBS Townsville were changing their Tableland cattle collection days from Sunday to Monday and that they were booked out until July 1st.

Their current grid was offering $6.40 for bullocks and $5.55 for cows. The last two cattle sales in Innisfail had been cancelled due to a lack of numbers and no future dates had been proposed.

 A couple of Tableland farms had been placed on restrictions after cattle deaths from lead toxicity. Producers were reminded to never dispose of toxic waste in general rubbish dumps or bins. 

Local councils usually provided options for toxic waste disposal. Animals may find material contaminated with lead in silage, rubbish dumps and around farm buildings and machinery. 

Lead can be present in sump oil and oil fi lters, lead batteries, flaking lead based pain, old paint tins, lead shot and fishing sinkers, lino, grease and putty.

Symptoms vary according to the degree of poisoning, but animals may show gastrointestinal and/or nervous signs. 

In cases of acute lead poisoning, animals may be found dead or they may display combinations of colic, staggering gait, rolling eyes, slobbering, blindness and convulsions for a few hours before death. 

If your animal is showing signs of lead poisoning you should provide the animal with food, water and shade, keep it separate from others, try to find and remove the hazardous material from your property, collect a sample for analysis and contact your veterinarian.

Mr Andersen said he was in the process of organising another cattle health night for a maximum of 40 producers which would cover relevant cattle diseases, symptoms and treatments, vaccinations, treating cattle that were down and would include a question and answer session. 

He said Mick O'Grady, the rep for Tri-Solfen, was also planning to deliver a Pain Relief Workshop which addressed best practices for castration and dehorning. 

Group members discussed Tri-Solfen's short expiry date and high cost and the possibility of purchasing a larger container and sharing it amongst group members to lower cost and prevent wastage. 

Trevor Petersen of Malanda told the group he had been trialling Suplaflo, a bi-product of the ethanol process, as a cheaper molasses alternative for production feeding. 

He had the product delivered in bulk from Wilmar Sarina and shared it with two other producers. He was also involved in a collabarative project between Cape York Natural Resource Management Ltd and Sweeter Soils Holdings Pty Ltd of Innisfail.

Sweeter Soils has been using biological soil conditioners and biology simulators to enhance soil health and pasture quality in both wet and dry tropics pastoral enterprises. 

Products containing soil biology conditioners were sprayed onto the pasture during rain events, to increase soil microbes and unlock major elements - phosporous, calcium, magnesium, potassium and sulphur, in the soil. 

Long term expected outcomes included a reduction in the need for nitrogen application leading to a decrease in nitrogen run off whilst maintaining pasture and animal health. 

Navua Sedge coordinator Rob Pagano from Tarzali gave an update around Senior Principal Scientist with Brisbane DAF, Kunjithapatham Dhileepan's latest visit to the Tablelands. 

Recent work by the team of scientists had identified that sedge plants treated with chemical and appearing dead for months were occasionally regenerating. 

The scientists have begun looking for a more effective carrier to get the Sempra down into the tubers to ensure a total plant kill. Farmers noticing any unusual sedge plant behaviour were encouraged to get those plants to Dr Dhileepan for investigation. 

The quest for extra funding and finding effective host specific biological controls continues and in a positive for the Tablelands group, the banana and sugar growers are beginning to show interest in getting involved with the research.

A promising native fungi that has been attacking the sedge during the winter months has recently been identified and the research team's ecological scientist wants feedback on how sedge is affecting everyone on their individual properties. 

The research team hoped that if they could quantify the dollar cost of sedge to farmers from Innisfail to Cooktown and on the Tablelands, the government might better understand the negative impact the weed was having on the beef and dairy industries.

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