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Stop Press News

January 2008

Welcome to the first newsletter for the Backgrounding web site. Our contact details are on the web site or just call Ian or Lorraine on;

Mobile 0407255939

Home 0260369534

Email ian@backgrounding.com.au

This is an interactive site so you can see available grass and cattle, grain and fodder.

These are some of the services we provide;

  • Link cattle with grass
  • Link feeder lambs with grass
  • Co ordinate backgrounding of weaners for beef and dairy producers, full service monitoring
  • Store grain on farm in Silo Bags
  • Link buyers and sellers of Grain and Fodder
  • Sell NLIS tags

Up coming site improvements will include

  • Grain tendering/auction system for on farm stored grain
  • Grass growth monitoring stations around the country
  • Apply on line for Backgrounder Accreditation. Become a 5 ***** star Grower for better returns.

The logo represents

The grass growth curve

Increasing net enterprise profit

Matching stocking rate to grass growth

The on farm storage of grain will increase net enterprise profit by;

  • Cutting out expensive sideways freight and BHC storage costs [ see diagram and equation below]
  • Controlling the product you have taken 12 months to produce and all the RISK.
  • The grain market fell by $60 in under a week in November, “typical harvest pressure” now it is up $70 +

The Silo Bag Equation

Standard [Not an Option;]

$10 per ton; Bulk Handling Company o/head costs

$15-20 per ton; Sideways freight [farm to BHC]

$2 per ton; Chemical application

$11-14 per ton; Warehouse fees

$46 per ton Total Costs.

Silo Bag Option;

$12 per ton ; Hire machinery in/out/cost of bag

$34 per ton SAVING not to mention hassle free harvest.

Over say 1000 tons that’s $34000; a Boarding school fee or a new kitchen.

Bulk Handing Co


End User


In 1982 we had a dry time similar to 2006, we choose to operate an agricultural business on the world’s second driest continent, therefore we have to design our business to accommodate and take advantage of the dry periods we are guaranteed to have. Most business analysis from past dry periods showed that;

• Firstly, successful businesses were the ones that ensured their overheads were low and able to sustain reduced production.
• Secondly, the GM ratios were maintained at pre dry levels as evidenced primarily by an absence of substitute feeding.
• Finally, the people in the businesses had maintained a positive attitude, had a plan going in and a plan coming out of the dry period.

Please find a grazing budget which is a excel spread sheet. Copy the tool and use it to plan your grazing for the year. Keep it simple.

Some of the photos show various paddock conditions during the dry period just past. All are within a 100 km radius of my place on the same day.They are random and may or may not indicate different business success, but they do indicate environmental and sustainability [non sustainable] issues. See if any of your paddocks look like the ones in the photos and relate them back to your business.

Is it possible to have high average annual stocking rates [DSE/HA] relatively risk free high mid winter stocking rates and high feed utilization, but do it in a risk free and sustainable manner?

The graphs below show two farms with different stocking rates.

The higher stocking rate farm has very small amount of substitute feeding and good net profit per DSE. It also has a sustainable dry matter ground cover to carry through the dry periods.

This farm also has high utilization, or % of potential stocking rate. An analogy of this is a motel occupancy rate of 59%.


Some outstanding results from 2007

  • a mob of steers put on 2 kg per day over 68 days
  • a group of backgrounders made $120 per head in 90 days of winter/spring, that’s just eating excess feed for a gross margin of $240 / Ha
  • a client made $200 / Ha over the whole farm from the backgrounding enterprise with little to no risk, increased their feed utilization from 59 % to 66 % and grew 20 % more grass in a BLOODY dry year.
  • a client backgrounded all his heifers and steers off farm and was able to;

Increase condition score of cow herd

Get more cows back in calf in the first cycle

Wean heavier calves.


SUBSTITUTE = - $$$$$$$$$$$$


Culls grow out to prime or feeder weights.

Replacements end up well grown @$1.20 per kg cost.

Cows in condition score 4/5 at calving

So breeding season is no longer than 60 days.

Attention Cattle Breeders we have 8 backgrounders who have attained 5 ***** star accreditation to give you a great experience from backgrounding your calves on their grass.

Move your steers and heifers off just like the Dairy industry producers do.

Grow out your steers and prepare them for the feedlot sector;

  • socialize the cattle and get their health protocols in order for feedlot entry
  • keep cattle on an rising plan of nutrition
  • keep your cows in tip top order for calving and rejoining
  • extra beef from 70% of calves born in 1 st 20 days
  • % of cows on heat after 60 days post partum based on condition. Thin 46%, Moderate 61%, Good 91%.
  • Calves can be 1.2 kg/day of age heavier at weaning if they are born in the first 20-30 days of calving.
  • The heifer must be at target wgt by her 1 st joining so she doesn’t burden the gross margin of the cattle enterprise

This is reflected in two different joining scenarios, 2 groups of hfs joined. Group 1 wgt 272kg and group 2 wgt 318 kg. after 2 years of weaning calves group 2 [ the heavier group] had 45 kg more wgt weaned per heifer.

For any enquiries please call us.


As of Monday 19 of Dec 2007, we have seen all of the recent full in grain prices from 3 to 4 weeks ago reinstated and some. I think $400 on farm should be our target price for tritacale, wheat & barley. All though yields are down this is a very good start point from which to market your on farm and warehoused grain. In relation to warehoused grain, if it was stored in silo bags,then marketed it would save $15 to $25 sideways freight and bulk handling site fees, and all the other fees.A total of up to $75 dollars per ton from farm gate to FOB in some cases.The buyers got control of the market 3 to 4 weeks ago and over sold the market.Now with on farm storage and a sensible marketing approach we have seen sellers regain the October price points.Even next year if we get average yields, there is no need to rush to sell at harvest, this is generally the low point in the cycle.Watch out when the single desk is deregulated and we will have a more volatile market with fluctuations based on a combination of world and domestic influences and speculators on the mercantile markets around the world.

The Dairy Australia web site is a good rap on market news.

We have 6500 merino ewes, currently in West Wyalong area to find a home for, in B-Double truck lots, minimum 35 weeks, would be good alternative to cattle, based on 45 c/wk/dse this equals $23.40 GM/dse. see available lambs page. We also have to background on a semi permanent basis 20000 to 30000 merino ewes, just manage water health and security, and enough good feed and you could receive up to 55c per week!!!!! thats $550 per week for 1000 ewes.

Some other news regarding backgrounding cattle is for next year in the southern areas is a supply of cattle. This will help all the cattle enterprises that have downsized because of the dry years and high subsitute feeding costs of the last couple of years. The gross margins and the nett profit numbers are very ordinary.

Please contact Ian regarding cattle supply EARLY to plan requirements for backgrounding. If you need to become accredited for our star rating program then do it before the new year so we can get the best cattle and a premium price organised.

We have the latest figures on what it may cost to feed a cow and calf thru to 1 st June 2008; $900 per unit at current feed prices, thats if you can get it!!!! If you can agist the C & C unit for 9 months, that equals $ 25 per week. It therefore stands to reason that agistment at $ 10 per week would be good buying !!!!!!!!!!

We are in the process of setting up an accreditation system for Backgrounders. This will allow cattle clients to have confidence in the managers of their cattle so to get a satisfactory experience from backgrounding. It will be based on a star rating system [1 star thru to 5 star being the highest standard]. This will also allow a premium for the backgrounder.

For example when a cattle client identifies a property looking for cattle to background on the web site, they will see the star rating system indicating say 5 ***** which helps the cattle owner to have confidence in the management of the cattle. He can then just do any paper work, organise transport and induction of cattle. This will stream line the process of getting cattle on to the grass ASAP.

This will involve training and assessment of the cattle managers livestock management skills. For any one who has trained in Pro graze, Grazing for Profit or any Low Stress Stock handling courses will receive accreditation after application and at least one years backgrounding for our cattle clients, please contact Ian, regarding applications or fill in application form in TOOLS.

Here is some food for thought I found.

Eliminating Metabolic Disease in Livestock.

The metabolic diseases that persistently affect our herds and flocks year after year are bloat, grass tetany, acorn calves and Johne’s disease. Today’s conventional agriculture has yet to find the exact causes of these diseases or to eliminate them. Animal health is directly related to the functional availability of nutrients from the food source and the animal’s ability to properly metabolise these nutrients. The health and balance of plants is directly related to the soil food web) diversity, mass, food supply and balance). The soil biology, functional calcium and phosphorus are the base for soil health.

The following definitions are taken from the Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary.

Metabolic Diseases – diseases in which normal metabolic processes are disturbed and a resulting absence or excess of a normal metabolite causes disease.

Metabolism – the sum of physical and chemical processes by which lived organized substance is built up and maintained and by which large molecules are broken down into smaller molecules to make energy available to the organism (animal, plant and microorganisms).

Nutrient – a nourishing substance, food or component of food. These ……..minerals, vitamins, proteins, carbohydrate, enzymes and hormones.

Nutrition – the sum of the process of taking in nutrients and assimilating (metabolism) and utilizing them.

Organism – an individual animal or plant.

This means in a condensed form - “A healthy and energetic organism requires a balance of functionally available nutrients to metabolise for the prevention of metabolic diseases.”

The key to a healthy animal system is understanding the difference between soluble nutrients, biological and functionally available nutrients in the soil, plant and animal. Soluble nutrients are normally acids or salts, which have several detrimental effects on the soil chemistry and biology. Some soluble nutrients, acidulated phosphate for example, will lock up with other soil nutrients and will not remain available, leading to other problems. The lock up takes out otherwise usable nutrients from your soil (e.g. Calcium). The acid effect solubilises a portion of the humus in your soil. As a result you lose more of your buffering and storage decline. The salts will act as a desiccant thereby adversely affecting the microorganism numbers and diversity. These soluble nutrients have the ability to move into the plant through the water transport system without being processed by the microorganisms. The plant can only metabolise soluble nutrients at a 10 - 15% efficiency rate. When nutrients are in the soil solution plants are force fed, rather than via nature’s efficient ‘nutrient on demand’ delivery method. In a soluble nutrient system microorganisms cannot fully convert the nutrients to biological functional plant food, therefore the plant converts only a portion of the total nutrients to usable animal metabolites. Your animals suffer from the lack of nutrition.

A balanced biological nutrient program for pastures is comprised largely of nutrients with low water solubility (incl. BioAgPhos, lime and gypsum), biological liquids and small amounts of soluble nutrients when required (e.g. B, Cu, Mo, Mn, Zn) that deliver fertility to the soil. The biological liquids contain microorganism spores and a very important complex microbial food supply, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, enzymes and hormones. The microorganisms deliver fertility to the plant only as needed “nutrient on demand”, which the plant metabolises almost 100% efficiently. This fertility creates balance in your plants and animals.