Wednesday, July 6, 2022

In feedlots’ favour

While intensive beef feedlot systems have significant environmental pressures, there are huge pluses. Don Mackay, managing director at Rangers Valley in Australia, said there were huge positives for feedlots around the use of effluent for fertiliser and in the generation of energy. Mackay spoke at the Platinum Primary Producers conference in Brisbane about the challenges facing the beef feedlot industry. He said some of the biggest challenges for the industry came under environmental management and animal welfare, where best practice was being demanded from customers.

Rangers Valley had hundreds of visits a year from customers who wanted to see what happened behind the farm gate, Mackay said. One customer said to him recently that they thought the product was fantastic, but they wanted to know what Rangers Valley animal welfare and environmental policy was.

“He said ‘If you don’t tick the boxes, I don’t care how good your meat is’.”
That’s the reality and the industry needs to front-foot the issues, Mackay said.

“Intensive agriculture is going to be under pressure; it always will be.”

So managing the environment and dealing with the issues properly was really important.

Rangers Valley captures effluent from its feedlots to use as fertiliser to grow crops on-farm and is set to build a bio-gas plant to generate power. Mackay said there was little doubt that the more productive the animal and the quicker it went through the system, the less impact it had on the environment, with a reduction in greenhouse gases.

A feedlot system also gave more control of the effluent. The ability to secure an expensive product and use it within the confines of the station was key, and there were further opportunities to use the effluent to generate energy.

Efficient producers in Australia and New Zealand had the chance to use effluent to a greater capacity through biogas.

“There is a real opportunity to be part of the new move; you can deal with environmental issues, still have fertiliser to use, and deal with the fact that the cost of energy is just rocketing through the roof.”

Rangers Valley is one of Australia’s largest commercial feedlots, located 1000 metres above sea level in the northern tablelands of New South Wales. It farms 32,000 head of cattle on 4700ha. They also have 10,000 cattle being backgrounded on Rangers Valley and other properties around NSW. They grow all their feed, up to 25,000t of maize silage in the operation every year.

Rangers Valley produces three main products, including two Angus products – Long fed Pure Black Angus with 207 days of feeding (DOF), 132 Coles Finest Pure Black Angus (100 DOF) and 10,000 F1 Holstein/Wagyu (400 DOF).

Rangers Valley is owned by the Marubeni Corporation, of Japan. It is a fully integrated organisation, with 45 staff operating the business from purchase through to feeding and care. Everything produced, apart from the stock that go to Coles supermarkets, is processed and marketed by the business.

Rangers Valley exports to 20 countries around the world, with 45% going to Japan.

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