Beating the benchmark
Using data and planning to stay ahead in the beef production business
GLEN Arden Cattle Company likes to stay ahead of the game when it comes to producing beef.
The Frith family has run Glen Arden since 1981.
John and Angela Frith run the business in partnership with John’s parents, Charlie and Liz.
The company now includes four Queensland properties – Glen Arden, Glen Hope, Nardu and Uabba – which make up 16,187 hectares. The Friths hosted a property tour of Nardu and Glen Arden for over 250 people as part of last week’s Young Beef Producers Forum in Roma.
The Frith family also owns Neutral Junction Station in the Northern Territory which is 485,623 hectares.
John Frith said the Queensland properties and Neutral Junction were run as individual profit centres.
“The Queensland properties have a carrying capacity of 5500 cattle,” Mr Frith said.
“In the Territory there are 5000 breeders plus followers.
“Our Queensland country is all backgrounding, and in the Territory there’s a droughtmaster-cross female herd, with ultra black and droughtmaster bulls.”
The Glen Arden property is fitted with a feedlot which is not currently in use.
“All our cattle are backgrounded and sold into feedlots for grain finishing,” he said.
“Our heifers go to the Australian Country Choice, Brindley Park feedlot.
“And our steers go to Condabri feedlot.”
The cattle at Glen Arden are grazed on grasses including reclaimer rhodes, premier digit, gatton panic and buffel.
“We typically grow steers to
450kg and heifers to about
380kg,” Mr Frith said.
Glen Arden’s yards have recently been upgraded from a three-way draft to a five-way, over-the-scale draft.
“The yards upgrade was to increase labour efficiency by not having to redraft, and to reduce production losses because you get them back in the paddock quicker,” Mr Frith said.
The Frith family also run a hay production operation at Neutral Junction.
“We learnt about the asset which is the water aquifer, and with no hay production within 100s of kilometres, we saw the opportunity to develop it into a hay farm,” Mr Frith said.
“There is a current 120 hectare irrigation development that grows hay and provides it mostly to the Barkly region.
“We’re waiting on an increased water allocation to increase that further and utilise the amazing asset that sits just under the ground.
“At the moment it produces about 3000 tonnes of hay. The water is pumped from shallow bores directly to the pivot head.”
Mr Frith said objective decision-making was the key to success in their business.
“We try to measure everything we do through benchmarking and other tools to make informed decisions,” he said.
“We benchmark and analyse key performance indicators to make sure we’re moving in the right direction.
“Feed budgeting is another big one, so we know how much feed we have for how many animals through the dry season.”
Mr Frith uses Bush Agribusiness to track the performance of Glen Arden Cattle Company and improve their business.
“I use KLR Marketing to help with our selling and buying decision making,” he said. “Col Paton of EchoRich helps us with our feed budgeting system.
“And Neil McDonald of Advanced Livestock Movement and Management provides us with the framework that all our stock handling is based on.”
Mr Frith grew up on the property and is now raising the next generation.
“We have Charlie, four, Harry, two, and Nancy who is eight weeks,” he said.
“I grew up here and I’ve been involved the whole time, in and out.
“I went away to boarding school at The Southport School and uni to study business, and played a bit of rugby league.
“Then I came back to the family business 2009.
“We love being involved in agribusiness and we are excited about the future in it”
We benchmark and use key performance indicators to make sure we’re always moving forward.
— John Frith
IN THE BEEF GAME: Simon Mollee, Jess Maskill and John Frith from Glen Arden Cattle Company.
The Young Beef Producers Forum visited Glen Arden to see the improved yards on the property.
Simon Mollee and Jess Maskill operating the updated yards at Glen Arden.