Money grows on grass

Processor HW Greenham & Sons is offering producers cash for liveweight gains off surplus pasture. Photo: HW Greenham & Sons

A meat processor is encouraging producers to convert their surplus pasture into cash through an innovative liveweight gain program.

HW Greenham & Sons — which operates processing plants at Tongala and Moe in Victoria and Smithton in Tasmania — is looking for cattle throughout Victoria and southern NSW, with grass-fed and lot-feeding options on offer.

Greenham national livestock agistment co-ordinator Caroline Ronald said liveweight gain was a solution to excess pasture, creating cash flow without capital outlay.

“We do have clients across the country that solely run our cattle on liveweight gain,’’ Miss Ronald said.

“They like it because it allows them to focus on growing grass and fattening cattle.

“There is no running to markets or watching and worrying about cattle prices, and there is no risk.

“As the cattle are all owned by Greenham, the company owns all the associated costs, including freight in and out plus any costs along the way.”

Miss Ronald said the Riverina and Upper Murray was a market with great potential with producers experiencing two good years of pasture growth and potential to earn without the capital outlay on stock.

Speaking at the Pasture Agronomy Service conference in Wagga on May 24, Miss Ronald said the liveweight gain program had been successfully running in Tasmania for more than 10 years and for 12 months on the mainland.

The program backgrounds and lot-feeds British-bred Wagyu and dairy-cross cattle for the Greenham beef brands.

Gundagai agronomist Mark Lucas said producers had immeasurable pasture surpluses over the past two years.

“There was a lot of grass which could have been converted to cash and I encourage farmers to look at the options of selling it,” Mr Lucas said.

“We are at the top end of town in terms of beef prices — we don’t need to be buying animals, but if you can use someone else’s animals to turn that grass into cash, it makes common sense.”

Miss Ronald said preferred turn-off weights for the agistment program were 450kg to 650kg liveweight and with an entry weight of 250kg to 450kg.

“Payment of dollars per kilogram is based on a liveweight gain market price at the time of entering an agreement,” she said.

“We buy heifers and steers with good genetics for our programs — it is in our interests to buy well-bred, healthy animals at all times.

“Greenhams works directly with our suppliers aiming to provide the most convenient and fair option for farmers to sell their livestock, from cull cows and bulls to a fully integrated program for cattle for premium markets.”