Intensification of northern cattle production in WA enabled by feed products from irrigated cropping

Broadacre Cropping
Supply chain development
Reference number
CRCNA funding
Total project value
Project length
3.5 months
Finish date
Project Status
Project Manager
Ian Biggs
Cotton Research and Development Corporation
Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development


  • Western Australian Government Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development - Agricultural Research Collaboration
  • The University of Western Australia
  • Murdoch University
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation


The project will address research questions underpinning the intensification of irrigated crop and beef production systems in northern Western Australia (WA), particularly centred around the Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA). A key focus is to what extent feed products from irrigated cropping can contribute to local cattle finishing systems, ultimately to produce a universally marketable animal and reduce the reliance on live export markets. Specifically, the project will establish a pilot cattle feeding facility using a ‘GrowSafe’ feed efficiency system and utilise a range of tropical feed rations sourced from the irrigated cropping industry (including cotton by-products and corn).

Cattle performance will be assessed using growth, carcass composition and meat quality, along with measures of cattle well-being. Economic analysis of these systems and supply chains will also be undertaken. The social licence for intensification of agricultural production is increasingly being scrutinised and is particularly visible in environmentally sensitive regions such as northern WA. The environmental risks of irrigated cropping and intensive feeding systems, with a focus on water quality through efficient irrigation and use of pesticides and herbicides will be reviewed. Concurrent research to measure livestock methane emissions using a ‘GreenFeed’ system will assist with developing an economically viable supply chain with a small environmental footprint.


Expected outcomes

The intermediate outcome of this work, will be new knowledge of feeding systems which will enable optimal backgrounding and grow-out systems to be developed for cattle in the Kimberley region of northern WA.

The project will assess whether intensive feedlots are appropriate, economic and sustainable for northern WA and support future investment planning.

The long-term outcome will be an environmentally friendly intensification of northern beef production systems based on an affordable source of protein enabling local processing.