Rob Inglis - growing the profitability of livestock businesses - Elders Rural Services
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Rob Inglis – growing the profitability of livestock businesses

Elders livestock production advisors (LPA) assist producers to achieve increased on-farm productivity with expert guidance and experience-based planning. They’re a knowledgeable and result-driven bunch, whose work plays a significant role in growing the profitability of their clients’ livestock operations.

Rob Inglis, Livestock Production Manager based in Wagga Wagga, is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to servicing his clients. With a background in ruminant nutrition and agronomy, Rob joined Elders 13 years ago and has a wealth of knowledge in developing both sheep and cattle to achieve their maximum production potential. We asked him a few questions – click through to read more.

Every property is different. It’s about understanding what the problem is and working with clients to fix it in the easiest and most efficient way.

By sitting on a client’s farm and looking at their property, its physical attributes, soil type, fertilizer history, stocking rates, all those sorts of things, you can understand so much about a property. It’s never a one size fits all. I think that’s where we’re looking at a great advantage, that we can tailor a package for each individual producer based on their operation.

A key difference with Elders is that it has fingers in different pies and a network of professionals you can draw from throughout the business. As opposed to a farmer going out and seeking different individuals to do the job that an Elders LPA can do across their farm.

Elders in the only Australian owned corporate that has national coverage that’s able to offer their clients livestock, wool and property marketing advice, farm supplies, insurance, the whole gambit. Not many companies have access to that.

Every single day is different, a mix of being on farm and meeting clients, and then going back to the office to complete the administration side of what you need to do.

Educating clients is a key part of the role of an LPA. Our teamwork with Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) to facilitate programs and workshops like Lifetime Ewe Management and Heifers for Profit so that our clients are well informed in best practice and keep updated with industry standards.

The farmers that I’m visiting at the moment are facing a myriad of problems to solve. One property that we’re working with are currently losing lambs.

They were losing ewes so we did some faecal samples and other testing, worked out that they had a selenium deficiency and have come up with a program to address that.

We’re also working with a farmer who’s got some cattle agisted who is trying to get some weight on those cattle to go into a feed lot. We’re going to go out and assess them and probably provide them with a supplement to accelerate their growth rates. There is plenty of problem solving and thinking outside the square to solve those issues.

While problem solving is part of our role, we prefer to “play ahead of the ball” by identifying and addressing the cause. This is far more profitable than treating the symptoms.

The first step is to ascertain the breeding objective and then step two is to tailor their management to make sure that they’re using the right genetics to achieve that objective. Then it’s putting the management systems in place to make sure that they’re harvesting that genetic potential.

A producer needs to buy the right rams and bulls to match what they’re trying to achieve. If they are trying to improve fertility rates, then we want to make sure that they’re buying bulls with higher rib fat EBV or higher scrotal circumference and leaning away from some other production traits.

It’s always great to chase high figures, high production or more calves, heavier calves or more wool or heavier lambs, but you’ve got to make sure you’re putting the feed in front of them to achieve that, which is where we can help. We need to ensure that we’re supplying them with the with the food to reach that genetic potential.

Efficiency is important from a nutrition point of view. It’s about utilizing what is available to you and making sure every mouthful of grass has been turned into money, whether that be beef, lamb, wool, milk or anything our farmers produce.

Generally, the conversion rate on a commercial beef herd is about 25 to 1. In other words, you know they’re eating 25kgs of pasture to achieve a kilo of weight gain. If you look at that from a from a carbon point of view, that’s an awfully inefficient system. The more grass they eat or the less efficiently they utilize grass, the more methane and carbon dioxide that’s producing. So, we need to make sure that the livestock are improving feed conversion, carbon mitigation, as well as the economic benefits of turning more feed into more beef.

If we could reduce that and add some clever supplementation, good management, good disease control and parasite control it shouldn’t be too hard to drag that back to 12.5kg feed conversion. From there, you double production per kilo feed and you effectively have halved the carbon footprint per kilo of output. It’s all about maximising feed conversion, whether that be in a pasture system or an intensive feeding system.

We need to understand the whole production system to make it as efficient as possible. From nutrition, good parasite management, good disease control, better utilization of pastures through rotational grazing or refencing where necessary, bringing in agronomists to assist with pasture improvement, or soil improvement through lime, gypsum or fertilizer. There are three or four parts of the business working together and as LPA’s, we’re the stitching that pulls that all in to one piece.

  1. Provide a complimentary service for Elders livestock and wool clients. Our aim is to increase client’s production and profitability through sound, unbiased, practical advice.
  2. Provide a fee for service option for non-Elders clients.
  3. Give you access to industry programs, such as Lifetime Ewe, Heifers for Profit, Winning with Weaner.
  4. Provide relevant content at in-store client information days.
  5. Provide staff training for Elders personnel interested in furthering their livestock production knowledge.