Hancock’s tech transformation has animals, staff in mind

Article by Shan Goodwin courtesy of Queensland Country life


THE technology transformation and infrastructure rollout taking place across the 34 cattle properties now in the Hancock Agriculture portfolio is as much about leading the way in animal and worker well being as it is about delivering efficiencies.

From the day of acquisition of each station, Hancock’s Gina Rinehart has expected an allowance be set aside for animal welfare investments.

So far that investment is running in the millions.

Hancock Prospecting pioneered the Australian iron ore industry and much of the learning involved in that sort of trailblazing is now being lent to its agriculture division.

Personal emergency locator devices so staff can immediately advise if they are in trouble and require assistance are also being rolled out.

“The benefit of drones are that they allow us to monitor real time such things as bores, fences and animal welfare from the homestead reducing the risk staff face by having to drive or fly around large properties to perform daily checks with most occasions identifying no issues,” Mr Larkin said.

“Drones mean greater efficiency in costs along with higher levels of safety for staff. It’s a win-win.”

A key part of Hancock’s approach in driving a focus on staff safety and animal welfare is to create a more sustainable workplace but also to roll out as much technological advancement as possible so that staff can live in a regional and remote environment with more urban, modern conveniences.

Some of these investments include satellite telecommunications, UHF connections across pastoral estates, and wifi through homesteads and staff work and home environments.

Marketing strategy

As Hancock acquires properties, its beef marketing strategy is being recalibrated.

The move is away from a heavy focus on live exports and sales at local yards to a diversification strategy with a stronger focus on domestic processing.

This is unfolding on three levels. The first is boxed beef through a custom processing arrangement for the brands 2GR fullblood Wagyu and S Kidman 100 per cent Santa Gertrudis beef. These brands are now available at selected Australian restaurants.

The second is sales through yards to processors where products can end up in the domestic or international markets and the third is the live export market through Darwin and Broome.

While the herd size is expected to soon grow to well above 400,000 head, Hancock’s managers say capacity is relevant to market conditions.

“Our portfolio of properties is diversified across different geographical areas of Australia which continuously present different climatic conditions,” Mr Larkin explained.

“The diversification strategy allows us to move cattle to different properties as required climatically, whether that be for joining, breeding, fattening or any other requirement.

“We see capacity as a variable to the allowable conditions the weather presents in any given season.”

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