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TAS Country : September 30th 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010 Tasmanian Country 5 News SELECTIVE: Pure-bred angus steers at the Tasmanian Feedlot. These are the only cattle the feedlot takes. Pictures: KAROLIN MacGREGOR Feedlot looks to big future opportunities again if they arose. The feedlot can handle up to 13,500 cattle at a time when under full production. During the warmer times of the year, Mr Thompson said they expected to have about 9500 cattle on feed. With spring now well under way, Mr Thompson said they were now in the process of increasing their cattle numbers. Cattle at the feedlot are fed a specially prepared ration three times a day. Mr Thompson said the ration stayed virtually the same throughout the year, apart from winter when more zinc was added to help ward off any animal health issues, particularly with the steers' feet. All the cattle at the feedlot are fitted with an individual management tag so they can be tracked right through the system. During the final weeks of their feeding program, the cattle are kept in the feedlot's large undercover pens which can hold up to 1200 animals. Mr Thompson said this had helped the improve the hide quality of the animals at slaughter, particularly during wet periods. To be eligible for the feedlot, the cattle must be pure-bred angus steers and weigh between 400kg- 450kg at entry. Ideally the cattle should be between 20-22 months of age. Mr Thompson said most of their cattle these days were sourced from backgrounders who purchased the cattle as weaners and ran them through to reach the required size and weights for feedlot entry. With the finished steers getting up to between 700-800kg liveweight at the time of slaughter, Mr Thompson said good conformation, particularly relating to the feet, was something they placed a lot of emphasis on. ''It was something that we did struggle with in the early days, because when you're putting the weight on them they have to have the right frame and good feet to carry it,'' he said. ''The breeders have responded really well, they have improved the genetics over the years, so it's not really a problem now.'' Potato growers feel pain TASMANIAN potato growers are facing their worst season in years, with McCain slashing its price by 10 per cent and farmers still locked in contract talks with Simplot. Processors say cheap potatoes, particu- larly from New Zealand, are forcing local cuts. And Thirlstane grower Matt Ryan says the local industry is hanging by a thread. ''Australia will probably learn the hard way when this industry is gone and they can only get imported product, and prices go up again,'' he said. Last year, McCain closed its pea and bean processing factory, costing 115 jobs and cutting $20 million out of the economy. The company's potato operation is worth $17 million. TFGA vegetable council chairman And- rew Craigie said the industry was facing a full-blown crisis, but potato growers were prepared to tough it out this season, in the hope that the industry would eventually bounce back. ''I still believe there is a future for vegetables,'' he said. ''We've got to, as producers, accept that times have changed. We are no longer where we were 30 or 40 years ago with processed vegetables.'' Mr Craigie said he didn't think Tasman- ian vegetable processing was dead, but the hunt was on for alternative products and markets that would better fit Tasmania's expensive, high-quality growing regimen. Primary Industries and Water Minister Bryan Green yesterday appointed econom- ist Andrew Heap as Tasmania's first vegetable industry facilitator. Mr Craigie said he was confident the industry, guided by Mr Heap could re- focus and improve farmer resilience. He said some farmers were locked into growing for McCain this year, because they had pre-arranged paddock leases and fertiliser supplies. Mr Craigie said few other working Australians would tolerate a 10 per cent pay cut. To save costs, many farmers would also work longer hours, as they let go of paid labour. Mr Craigie said fertiliser and electricity price hikes would help push farmers' production costs up by as much as 4 per cent. 2111111-49 B S & N N P N .in epen ent al e .c .a a t 03 6224 2343 De np t 03 6424 3440 La nce t n 03 6333 0420 A A A a et al ati n f nance; a et al ati n f cce i n plannin an e tate ; a et al ati n f p cha e ale p p e ; al ati n f ta p p e (e capital ain ta , ta p ty); al ati n f nancial ep tin / alance heet; in ance al ati n a e ent f c pen ati n f lan acq i iti n; fa ily la / at i nial ettle ent; plant an achine y al ati n .
September 23rd 2010
October 7th 2010