W.H. WINTER1, L. WINKS2 and R.M. SEEBECK3
1Division of Tropical Crops and Pastures and
2Division of Tropical Animal Production, CSIRO; and
3Queensland Department of Primary Industries; Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
This paper discusses options available, and projected to be available, to producers in the subtropics and tropics to manipulate beef production and quality. The requirements of future beef markets regarding uniformity, tenderness and juiciness will mainly be achieved by increasing growth rate via managing the feed supply in conjunction with the appropriate animal genotype, and by using chemical growth or digestion modifiers.
Native pastures are the predominant forage, but animal production is highly variable. Generally they provide useful grazing during summer and, with strategic supplementation, may be adequate for breeding cows and for maintaining liveweight of slaughter animals during the cooler months.
Cattle may need to be finished on sown pastures to meet specific market requirements. Growth rates on these pastures are low in comparison to temperate pastures, with maximum rates rarely exceeding 1kg/d during spring and summer. Options to improve productivity include use of legumes and direct supplementation to overcome nutrient limitations. The greatest nutrient limitations occur in autumn and winter on mature and frosted tropical forages.
The economic benefit of improving branding percentage by 15% (an achievable improvement in most situations) and growth by 60 kg/annum (to enable a reduction in turnoff age by a year) are assessed.