The two pillars of our business are animal happiness and ecology. Every decision that is made across our vast supply chains has these as a core consideration. We are constantly striving to implement innovations that address these pillars and maintain our social license to operate. Listed below are some of the technologies that we are trialling.
Cattle yard Shade & Sprinklers
Putting large numbers of cattle in a yard for processing by our staff makes for hot and dusty work. With this in mind, we are implementing shade and sprinkler systems to increase the comfort of both the cattle and our ‘ringers’.
We are also conscious of the happiness of our horses and ensure they are provided shade, water and feed after a long muster.
Genetics & Pain Mitigation
Our mantra is “Happy healthy cattle are the best cattle” and we keep this front of mind in everything we do including animal husbandry practices. Genetics is a key focus across our beef business and we strive to breed cattle that are environmentally adapted whilst being the most productive.
Adaptations we focus on include targeting polled, sleek-coated bulls that can tolerate hot humid conditions and are resistant to pests such as cattle ticks. Where animal husbandry techniques are required, such as dehorning to ensure cattle don’t injure other cattle or our staff, we do so with two forms of mandatory pain relief. These pain medicines provide short-acting and long-lasting relief from the procedures.
Homestead Solar Power
Our Kidman stations are remote and don’t have access to mains power so have traditionally been powered by diesel generators. These are currently being converted to hybrid systems with solar panels and batteries where the generators are only being used when it is overcast or rainy weather.
Many innovations are being trialled across our various properties to minimise our carbon footprint.
Another aspect of reducing our carbon emissions is through the use of electric vehicles rather than internal combustion engines. For several years we have trialled electric side-by-sides and motorbikes. We are also looking to either convert existing farm utes to electric ones or purchase brand-new electric utes.
Whilst many may suggest that cows are getting a bad rap for belching greenhouse gases when the number of ruminants globally has remained fairly static over time and they are simply recycling carbon rather than releasing new carbon, we are not resting on our laurels.
Both in our northern (Kidman) and southern (Wagyu) production environments we are trialing legumes that provide greater water infiltration, store additional carbon and mitigate methane production when included in the diet. In addition, we are trialling Red Asparagopsis seaweed in our intensive feeding rations, which has been found to significantly reduce methane production.
Remote Water Telemetry
With some of our properties up to 100km from one side to the other, it is not uncommon for our staff to drive up to 300km per day to check our cattle have clean, plentiful drinking water. To reduce the frequency that the water points need to be checked we have installed water telemetry devices that provide tank levels and send via a cellular or satellite connection.
This reduces the cost to the business in terms of labour, vehicle maintenance and of course fuel so we are reducing our carbon footprint but also provides peace of mind for our managers to know their cattle are adequately watered.
We endeavour to make our animals’ lives stress-free with plenty of feed and water for them to consume at their leisure whilst minimising external parasites that annoy them. We are trialling various methods to mitigate fly numbers in our rangeland grazing and intensive feeding operations.
We have had great results with a non-chemical attractant that entices flies away from the cattle into a trap. This is beneficial to the cattle, our horses and the staff working in those environments.