Niche industries and diversification potential for cattle

Cattle wait patiently as a cattle sale decides their fate.
Cattle wait patiently as a cattle sale decides their fate. Ren Lanzon

THERE'S a lot to be said for finding a niche.

With 69% of Mackay region cattle farms running less than 100 head, Bowen cattleman Bob Harris reckoned the niche beef industry offered locals the best opportunities.

The first step in catering to a niche market was to get a certain accreditation, such as Meat Standards Australia (MSA) or organic.

While they take time to receive, meat works often then pay a premium back to farmers.

"The premiums pay substantially more a kilo," Mr Harris said.

"The problem is getting local abattoirs on board."

Mr Harris said not all abattoirs in the state offer the premiums, so some graziers are disadvantaged with longer haulage feeds to get the premium prices.

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Freight cost could then offset the premium.

The other challenge in catering to niche industries was winning accreditation.

For organic, farmers need to run a chemical-free operation for four years.

But the farmer of 15 years was not daunted by the prospect and said he had not sprayed for ticks in a decade.

"Just through natural attrition (the cattle learn to cope)," Mr Harris said.

"It's the best opportunity for farmers here."

Another cattle farmer Jane Lindner only ran 50 head of Belmont Reds, a breed known for easy temperament and tick tolerance.

That cut down labour time, so she could quietly earn money on the side while she worked her day job as a nurse.

"I think some people don't even realise Mackay has a cattle industry," she said.

"But we have the meatworks and saleyards here. It's an option."

Do you buy organic produce when shopping?

This poll ended on 04 June 2015.

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This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.


Topics:  abattoir beef industry cattle mackay rural

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