Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

The impact of innovation on beef production in far northern Australia

I. Whan A D , G. Bortolussi B and R. Backus C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Alliance Resource Economics, PO Box 1301, Milton, Qld 4064, Australia.

B CSIRO Livestock Industries, PO Box 5545, Rockhampton MC, Qld 4702, Australia.

C Feedlot Industry Consulting, 13/34 Moray Street, New Farm, Qld 4005, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: ianw@ruralmp.com.au

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 46(2) 271-282 https://doi.org/10.1071/EA05175
Submitted: 26 September 2005  Accepted: 6 February 2006   Published: 3 March 2006

Abstract

In this paper we examine the forces that have shaped Australia’s far northern (north of 20° south) beef industry over the past 35 years. This is done for the purpose of tracing its transformation from a state of relative isolation to an integral part of the national beef industry. We note that integration is being accompanied by a greater focus, particularly by corporate producers, on specialised breeding in the far north and this is being assisted by innovations that increase herd fertility and raise the meat quality of the progeny, while retaining adaptation of the breeding herd to the local environment. Among a range of technologies, genetic improvement has significant potential to bring about rapid improvement in the meat quality of tropically adapted cattle. With respect to gene-based technology, however, independent producers will have to be convinced about the rigour of the technology and the prospects of economic gains before they make significant management changes. To this end, innovative marketing systems are needed that will reveal the link between expected meat returns and the offer prices applying to groups of growing cattle in any location. Accordingly, there is an urgent need to develop and introduce a descriptive and informative trading language for growing cattle that incorporates inherent qualities including those that influence meat quality. Innovations that will complement those applying to enhancement of meat quality are more general but will significantly raise herd productivity. We also compare the operating systems of both corporate and independent producers in the region.


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