Beeflinks’ researchers from the Centre for Agriculture Economics and Development recently spent the day in WA's mid-west town of Dandaragan to meet with cattle farmers. The mid-west region is mainly a grain producing area, although 11% of the annual production value is generated from livestock (DPIRD, 2021).
A 2-hour interview with the farmers was undertaken over a spread of morning tea, followed by a tour of the farm and a shared lunch.
The Dandaragan farming couple own and manage a 550 ha farm, of which 380 ha is dedicated to the cow-calf beef business, and the remaining farm area is for crop production. They currently keep 200 shorthorn breed cattle, who are fed predominately on pastures with hay and minerals comprising only 10% of the feed mix.
The cattle are mustered using utility vehicles during July and sold to feedlots, with about 10% of the cattle cohort retained for saleyards.
The Meat & Livestock Australia and University of Western Australia partnership, BeefLinks, has funded a project to obtain insights from beef producers and identify the drivers for adoption outcomes across the Beeflinks Program. The project team includes Dr Fiona Dempster, Associate Professor Fay Rola-Rubzen, Dr Amin Mugera, Dr Asjad Sheikh and Ms Tamara Harold.
“Engaging directly with farmers and seeing the property is an important part of ground truthing the socio-economic research tools we are developing. The interview data collected from this visit has also helped us to clarify how different production systems in WA operate including which management innovations are being adopted and the various factors involved in deciding the appropriate pathways to market,” said the Beeflinks’ Project Leader, Dr Fiona Dempster.
Some producer insights gained from this visit are that they select bulls from known and trusted sources who also use low stress stockmanship practices. They believe there is value in R&D focused on the adoption of context-specific breeding and genetics programs and alternative nutrition sources.
This field visit has led to a firmer relationship between the farmers and researchers, and there is now momentum to maintain this connection by keeping the farmers involved and informed about how their contribution has led to the development of outputs for the beef industry and helped to inform decisions made by the Beeflinks Program and more broadly, Meat & livestock Australia.
For more information:
Contacts at UWA:
Fiona Dempster, Project Leader: email@example.com
Phil Vercoe, Beeflinks Program Leader: firstname.lastname@example.org