ALFA recently hosted its "Going Under Cover" feedlot tour, looking at shade and covered housing systems fit for Australian feedlots.
On this tour, we spoke with Scott de Bruin from Mayura Station to discover how they came about building their shed at their Mayura Station Feedlot located in Millicent, South Australia.
First established in 1845, Mayura Station is one of Australia’s oldest pastoral operations and today is a vertically integrated full-blood Wagyu operation.
For Managing Director Scott de Bruin, the main driver behind constructing Mayura’s shed was to increase cattle productivity through improved animal welfare outcomes.
'When I was building the shed, I wanted to have something which was class leading, in that the animal husbandry was very strong,' Scott said.
'I wanted the animals to be very comfortable, and hence if they were comfortable, they’d be more productive.'
Mayura’s shed works perfectly to provide protection from the cold and wet Millicent winters, but it was specifically designed to protect animals from wind chill.
'When cattle shiver, they are using energy which is stored as fat within the muscle,' Scott explained, 'We are in the Wagyu market and the more marbling, the more the product is worth, so we’re not only getting paid for the weight, but also the quality.'
‘By having a shed where weight gains are consistent and they’re not using energy shivering in those colder months, the benefits are very clear in the end product.’
Not only has the shed increased animal welfare and productivity, but it has also helped positively impact consumer perception.
'We call [the shed] the Mayura Moo Cow Motel,' Scott said, 'It helps people understand that the cattle are very comfortable, they’re not exposed to the elements, and they are very happy.'
‘It’s a positive experience for not only the cattle, but also the people who consume our product.’
'By using the first shed as a trial, we worked out that the pay back was very quick. Because the animal performance was so level during the year, we didn’t have a loss of production,'
'By knowing that, the decision to build a second shed of this size was a lot simpler.'
When planning on investing in a shade structure, Scott noted the most important aspect is to spend time researching what bedding best suits your business’ needs.
'Bedding is so crucial to managing the pen surface, as well as the welfare of the cattle,' he said.
‘It can be a complicated issue, and you need to find an available by-product from within your geographical area that you can use as good bedding'.
This case study was filmed on ALFA's 'Going Under Cover' feedlot tour, looking at shade and covered housing systems fit for Australian feedlots.
Australian feedlots are working towards providing all cattle under their care with access to shade, demonstrating the strong collective commitment the Australian cattle feedlot industry has towards animal welfare.
The ALFA Shade Hub provides all the tools and information you need to know about the benefits of shade. Visit www.feedlots.com.au/shade