Crops for cattle – Increasing the efficiency of north Australian cattle production systems using local crops to improve dry season weight gain.

Broadacre Cropping
Strategic policy development
Supply chain development
Reference number
CRCNA funding
Total project value
Project length
4 years
Finish date
Project Status
Project Manager
Ian Biggs
Northern Territory of Australia Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (DITT)


  • Northern Territory of Australia Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (DITT)
  • Surf & Turf Cattle Operations Pty Ltd (Legune Station)
  • Northern Livestock Company Pty Ltd (Maryfield Station)
  • National Feed Company Pty Ltd
  • Northern Livestock and Agriculture Pty Ltd
  • T.J Oxley & P.J Thomson (Larrakeyah Station)
  • The Trustee for John Armstrong Family Trust (Gillnockie Station)
  • A.A. Company Pty Ltd
  • Ridley AgriProducts Pty. Ltd
  • Avago Station Pty Ltd


This project is part of the CRCNA's $8 million integrated farming systems Cotton, Grains and Cattle program across Northern Australia.

Low growth rates during the dry season currently limit cattle production in Northern Australia.

This project aims to foster intensification of the northern cattle industry by integrating northern cropping and cattle production systems to increase weight gains of cattle during the dry season.

It will investigate the feasibility and profitability of supplementary feeding strategies (using feeds produced in Northern Australia) aimed at increasing cattle weight gain over the post weaning dry season to achieve a higher proportion of steers being turned off after one post weaning wet season and more efficient heifer performance from increased pre-mating weights. It's expected this work will have flow-on effects on re-conception rates, calving distribution, average weaning weights and subsequently heifer mating weights this increasing the whole-of-herd productivity (as heifers and first lactation heifers make up a significant proportion (> 40%) of the breeding herd).

The project will achieve this through:

1) Demonstrating the increases in dry season growth that can be achieved through feeding different crop products produced in northern Australia. This knowledge is needed for the other points below.

2) Examining the whole-of-herd impacts of increased post weaning dry season growth on the structure, productivity and profitability of cattle herds in northern Australia; and determining the feed cost/cattle sale price combinations at which such strategies are profitable.

3) Examining the impact of increased dry season growth on reducing whole-of-life methane emissions (i.e. steers turned off a year earlier, females are more productive and so fewer breeders are needed) and whether this could be an approved method for obtaining carbon credits

Expected outcomes

The data and information produced in this project will be used to evaluate the effectiveness and profitability of various feeding strategies and provide information to northern cattle producers to better inform feeding and investment decisions. 

It will also help with the sustainability of the northern cropping industry by providing a strong and enduring local market for crops.