AgMemo Northern Agricultural Region

Backgrounding beef for benefit

DAFWA NBF Market Analysts Roger Verbrugge (far right) and Dale Miles (centre) with Brooke Forsythe and other members of the Mingenew Irwin Group. 

The Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) Northern Beef Futures (NBF) project is collaborating with industry groups to evaluate returns from the value-added beef method of backgrounding cattle.

Backgrounding is the practice of moving cattle from a breeding property to a secondary property to grow-out cattle to a specific weight to suit a target market.

By backgrounding cattle, pastoralists can gain access to higher-value markets and turn-off cattle at times of the year when cattle prices are higher, but stations are inaccessible by road due to weather conditions.

The Mingenew Irwin Group’s North South Beef Alliance (NSBA) project, supported by the department’s Agriculture Science Research & Development fund, aims to increase the number of cattle headed south for fattening and solidify the supply chain integrity from northern pastoralists to southern backgrounders.

NBF Market Analyst Roger Verbrugge said that backgrounding cattle opens up more market options, including live exports, and entry to feedlots or South West-based meat processors.

New market opportunities are emerging for branded, rangelands grass-fed boxed beef, and new live export markets, including China, Thailand, Vietnam, the Middle East and South East Asia (Cambodia).

These markets could have different specification requirements which could provide pastoralists an alternative market option through backgrounding.

NSBA spokesperson Brooke Forsyth said that under the alliance, various agreements were available for pastoralists to retain ownership of cattle and pay backgrounding fees based on weight gain, including a fee per kilogram or profit share arrangement on kilograms added.

The NSBA project is developing a repeatable, quality controlled production system removing management risk for the backgrounder and providing a production guarantee for the pastoralist.

The Alliance expects the first intake of cattle from the pastoral regions to take place in May 2017. For further information, contact Brooke Forsyth on 0487 281 007.

The department’s NBF project is also developing a backgrounding model to illustrate the economics of backgrounding northern cattle in the southern areas of WA.

Mr Verbrugge said a prototype of the model is being developed into a smart device application which will enable producers to input data specific to their property to see the return from a north-south alliance system under different conditions and using different cattle specifications.

The prototype, which he presented at the North South Beef Alliance field day held in September, received significant interest from producers.

More information can be found at the fllowing links:

For more information contact Roger Verbrugge, Market Analyst, Northern Beef Futures project, Bunbury on +61 (0)8 9780 6166.