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.