The SLM Australia Livestock Fund acquires and operates grazing land in Australia with a focus on grass-fed beef cattle production. It launched in 2012 and has acquired more than 480,000 hectares of land. The fund is managed by SLM Partners (Australia) Pty Ltd.
Australia has many advantages for low-cost, grass-fed beef production: disease-free herds, year-round grazing, reliable infrastructure, large properties, competitive land prices, and good access to markets. It is well-positioned to serve the rapid growth in demand for red meat from China and other fast-growing Asian economies.
With the right management, raising cattle on pastures offers the lowest-cost method of beef production. These systems make the most of what nature provides for free – sunlight, rainfall, soils and the photosynthetic power of plants – rather than relying on purchased grains. There is a growing scientific evidence of the health benefits of grass-fed meat, which is leading to increased consumer demand.
The SLM Australia Livestock Fund acquires properties and implements a management process known as ‘holistic planned grazing’. This involves dividing land into smaller paddocks, putting cattle in large herds, and moving them frequently across the property. It provides a decision-making framework that allows managers to vary the size of herds and the frequency of herd movements according to seasonal conditions. The land benefits from concentrated animal impact, and then long periods of rest, which mimics the behaviour of grazing animals in natural grassland ecosystems.
The goals of the fund are to increase carrying capacity and to reduce the costs of production, thereby building a profitable, sustainable cattle operation. The grazing process is also expected to increase soil carbon, improve water cycles, and enhance biodiversity.
Since its launch in 2012, the fund has acquired 15 properties or property aggregations, covering 480,000 hectares, in Queensland and New South Wales. This encompasses breeding and finishing country, with average annual rainfall of between 350 mm and 475 mm.
The fund is improving stockwater, installing fencing and building new livestock handling facilities on these properties, to facilitate implementation of the holistic planned grazing system. Further details on the development of one property, Padua Park, can be found below.
The fund has aggregated properties to create 7 management units, each under the control of a property manager.