Cap­i­tal­is­ing on good times makes sense

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - News -

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.

❝pas­ture

Im­proved and our seed­ing pro­cesses have helped our car­cass weights in­crease to no end... — Cam Hughes

PHOTO: JOHN WIL­SON PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

BEEF BUSI­NESS: Cam, Lisa and Brian Hughes, own­ers of Malarga Graz­ing.

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