Capitalising on good times makes sense
THE Hughes family, at the helm of Malarga Grazing in Queensland, are among a number of graziers working towards answering a question that has beef producers puzzled – why artificial insemination conception rates are so low.
Currently industry rates for artificial insemination sit at a maximum of about 60 per cent, and Cam Hughes and producers like him want to find out why.
Cam runs Malarga Grazing – a brahman beef operation located in the Wide Bay-Burnett region of Queensland – with his wife Lisa and father Brian.
Next year the Hughes’ Blairmore property will be used as part of an artificial insemination program trial.
Malarga has been in the Hughes family for about a century. In the 1970s, the Hughes family expanded the business to Blairmore at Ban Ban Springs and has since accumulated numerous other smaller properties along the way. All up, Malarga Grazing has about 8500 cattle across more than 20,230 ha, not including leased land.
The operation sells an average of 2000 head a year, with strong markets in China, Korea and Japan, although it does chop and change a bit, Cam said. With beef performing so well in the market at the moment, Lisa said the family was taking the opportunity to upgrade the properties.
“We chose to increase expenditure on farm last year. We spent the money on farm improvements, fencing and just things that need doing. We were capitalising on good returns and putting the money back into the business,” he said.
The Hughes family has also started carefully choosing their pasture variety to give them greater quality control.
They have planted bisset creeping bluegrass, Rhodes grass and wynn cassia with legumes like Seca stylo.
The Hughes are also planning to invest in a new variety of leucaena, a legume fodder crop, to increase production.
Where they can’t plough due to the undulating landscape, they aerial seed.
“We have been able to improve the pasture and our seeding processes have helped our carcass weights increase to no end. It has come at a cost, but it has also increased our carrying capacity,” Cam said.
Looking ahead, the focus is to build a resilient and robust business that can ride the ups and downs of farming.
Improved and our seeding processes have helped our carcass weights increase to no end... — Cam Hughes
BEEF BUSINESS: Cam, Lisa and Brian Hughes, owners of Malarga Grazing.