Stanley Vale Merino Stud - News & Views

Red meat, green facts - embracing the emissions challenge

By Jason Strong, Managing Director, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA)

While the decade old national policy debate around emissions reduction targets flared again last week, Australia’s red meat producers and businesses are continuing to demonstrate their commitment to maintaining and improving the environment.

The news may come as a surprise to some.  Unfortunately, we have grown a little too accustomed to seeing negative headlines around red meat’s impact on our environment, and not enough coverage of the positive, proactive steps our forward thinking industry is taking.

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Leucaena lifts its weight

Could leucaena deliver a four-fold increase in production benefits by increasing weight gain and carrying capacity?

An MLA-supported weight gain trial for steers grazing the forage legume, Redlands leucaena, has set out to answer this question and early results are positive.

The trial is being hosted by Redlands leucaena growers and seed producers, Bruce and Lucinda Mayne, at their property ‘Fairview’ in central Queensland.

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Multi breed evaluations on the way

A new $7.3 million research project – the Southern Multi Breed Project – was launched yesterday to ultimately enable beef producers to directly compare bulls of different breeds for a range of traits.

MLA General Manager Research, Development and Adoption, Michael Crowley, was at the launch in Armidale and explains what the Southern Multi Breed Project means for red meat producers and why MLA is supporting the project.

Q: What does the project involve?

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Lamb finishing: is it worth it?

High-performance forage crop and perennial pasture systems were put to the test in NSW’s Monaro region in an MLA-funded Producer Demonstration Site (PDS) to see how finishing lambs stacked up compared to the traditional store lamb system.

The result was a tick for farm profitability, with average net profits from establishing and finishing lambs on the pasture/crops ranging from $305/ha to $1,492/ha over the two years of the PDS, despite poor seasonal conditions in the second year.

In comparison, the region’s traditional system of turning lambs off as stores by the end of December, at average sale weight of 29kg had an average total enterprise gross margin of $161/ha.

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Taking feedbase management back to basics

Victorian sheep producers Craig and Jayne Drum could carry out feed budgeting in their sleep, but it hasn’t stopped them from looking for new information to drive their feedbase productivity.

Jayne was a technical officer for trials in the MLA‑supported EverGraze project for two years and Craig is an agronomist, but they reckon it’s one thing to teach and another to do.

“Jayne’s probably taken a thousand pasture measurements through her work,” Craig said.

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COVID-19: impacts on markets

The unprecedented and unpredictable nature of COVID-19 makes it very difficult to report on the complete range of impacts to Australian red meat and livestock industry in an accurate and timely manner. In recent weeks there have been a number of localised spikes in infection in global markets where new cases had dropped to almost zero, including Australia, Japan and China as impacts are still felt globally and social distancing restrictions remain, this will continue to disrupt the consumption of Australian red meat, both domestically and internationally.

Here’s a summary of some consistent impacts seen in global markets:

Consumer demand

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Mixed results for live exports

Cattle exports in June totalled 124,000 head, which is the largest volume of cattle shipped since November last year. For the year-to-June, total cattle exports are back just 1% on 2019 levels. Sheep exports for the year-to-June total 582,000 head, back 17% on 2019 levels.

Indonesia

Australian feeder cattle exports to Indonesia total 254,000 head for the year so far, down 16% on 2019 levels. Despite IA-CEPA tariff reductions, mixed market signals and see-sawing prices have resulted in importers being more cautious about buying in large numbers. The current feedlot cattle price is Indonesia rupiah (IDR) 42,500/kg live weight (at an IDR exchange rate of IDR 14,500/USD), and the price of fresh beef at IDR 115,000-120,000/kg.

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COVID-19: impacts on markets

The unprecedented and unpredictable nature of COVID-19 makes it very difficult to report on the complete range of impacts to Australian red meat and livestock industry in an accurate and timely manner. COVID-19 cases have been trending down in Australia and in a number of Australia’s key markets (such as Korea, China and Taiwan), however in other regions (South America and the Middle East), cases are surging. As impacts are still felt globally and social distancing restrictions remain, this will continue to disrupt the consumption of Australian red meat, both domestically and internationally.

Here’s a summary of some consistent impacts seen in global markets:

Consumer demand

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China’s red meat imports remain firm despite disruptions

Growing meat imports in recent months as ASF continues to impact the market

China’s monthly beef imports during 2020 reflect the volatility of the first quarter, with a convergence of push and pull factors – Lunar New Year, African Swine Fever (ASF) and COVID-19. China’s March meat imports were the largest monthly volumes ever recorded through customs, with red meat a key driver. However, it should be noted that a reasonable proportion of this product was delayed in arrival by port disruption.

The impact of ASF on China’s pig industry continues to be severe, with sporadic outbreaks continuing to be reported. It remains the key driver of the country’s domestic protein production and protein import demand. Estimates put the impact of ASF as equivalent to having destroyed some 40% of China’s pig herd, with industry recovery likely to take several years.

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COVID-19: impacts on markets

The unprecedented and unpredictable nature of COVID-19 makes it very difficult to report on the complete range of impacts to Australian red meat and livestock industry in an accurate and timely manner. It is clear that even though China appears to be emerging from COVID-19 shutdown, the crisis is continuing across the rest of the world and will continue to disrupt consumption of Australian red meat domestically and internationally. 

Here’s a summary of some consistent impacts seen in global markets:

Red meat supply and logistics (processing, sea freight and air freight)

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