The Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) strives to foster a profitable and sustainable feedlot industry that is recognised and valued by the community.
ALFA does this by working closely with, and on behalf of, our members to deliver industry representation, guidance on strategic levy investment, industry development and membership services.
As we kick off a new membership year, we would like share some of the activities that have been delivered over the past 12 months and recently reported to members in our 2021-22 annual report, ALFA’s Year in Review 2022.
Shade Initiative support grows
ALFA continued to promote the Shade Initiative asking all Australian feedlots to make a pledge to provide cattle under their care with access to shade by 2026. Since the 2020 announcement, the voluntary installation of shade has increased by 2% of feedlot capacity in a period of industry expansion, meaning an additional estimated 29,200 head of cattle now have access to shade.
Antimicrobial Stewardship steps up
ALFA stepped up commitment to AMS, making the Guidelines an auditable requirement under the NFAS from 1 January 2022. While we moved to 100% coverage, it’s important to acknowledge that previously, 62% of NFAS feedlots had voluntarily adopted an Antimicrobial Stewardship Plan in 2021, up from 59% in 2020 and 39% in 2019.
Feedlot TECH platform takes off
ALFA continued to develop and promote use of Feedlot TECH, our online training, education and careers hub. Launched in October 2021, there are now 157 feedlots registered on the platform with 733 individual users, 534 of which are individual feedlot staff. Investment in additional courses is being made in core skill areas of livestock and feeding, and these will be released later in 2022.
Building workforce capability
ALFA is highly engaged in capability building in our effort to attract, retain and grow our feedlot workforce. Our capability-building activities attracted 1,550 participants in the past 12 months. Given there are approximately 2,000 feedlot employees, this demonstrates a very high level of engagement and indicates that the ALFA workshops, webinars, technical support services and conferences that were delivered were valued by our members and the broader feedlot community.
The foundations of consumer engagement – ALFA’s Grain Fed Beef website and Instagram
Since ALFA launched grainfedbeef.com.au 12 months ago, the platform has continued to showcase the attributes of the grain fed beef production system and the people who make up this great sector, to enable the feedlot industry to better tell its story about how we nourish cattle, land and communities.
Helping lot feeders on their continuous improvement and preparedness journey
Continual improvement and striving to operate to best practice are a key focus of the feedlot industry. Key deliverables included:
Release of The Handbook of Best Practice Guidelines for the Australian Feedlot Industry which promotes improved management practices in the feedlot industry.
Release of the Guide on Managing Summer Heat in Australian Feedlots to help lot feeders prepare for and manage excessive heat events. This was prepared specifically to combat the challenging La Niña 2021-22 summer conditions.
Release of facts sheets following the confirmed outbreak of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Indonesia that focus on assisting operators identify these diseases and the importance of reporting them to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline.
ALFA partnering with AUS-MEAT and the Integrity Systems Company to roll out communication and training materials to assist feedlot operators implement key changes to the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme (NFAS). A full communications program was initiated, which has seen increased levels of engagement, especially from smaller operators which is very encouraging.
Partnering with MLA to drive innovation
ALFA, through its Research & Development Committee, continued to partner with Meat & Livestock Australia to undertake effective research on behalf of lot feeders. Key areas of delivery included:
Feedlot sustainability – Demonstration that 3-NOP (Bovaer; DSM Nutritional Products) can suppress methane by 90% in finishing diets.
Shade and shelter benefits – Delivery of initial results of a novel two-tiered shade and shelter tarp system, which resulted in a 7kg HSCW gain in 100-day, short-fed implanted steers over mild wet summer conditions.
Effect of feed withdrawal on truck effluent, animal welfare, carcase characteristics and microbiological contamination of feedlot cattle – Demonstration of a linear decrease in carcase weight (1.8 kg in domestic unimplanted heifers) with feed withdrawal (0, 4, 8 vs 12hrs of feed withdrawal), with no overall difference in effluent captured in tanks for the entire journey, or transport shrink or spillage.
Grain devitalisation - Demonstration of Near Infrared Light Source Penetration Technology to devitalise corn, wheat, barley and sorghum which is exciting early-stage pilot research for the potential importation of grain to meet biosecurity requirements.
Automated bunk management – Successfully delivered an automated bunk management system with algorithms operating at least equivalent to a highly-trained bunk caller.
While ALFA has had a full agenda, we recognise it has been a very busy period for feedlot members.
Cattle on feed continued to remain above 1 million head through 2021-22, which has been consistently achieved each quarter since 2018.
This occurred despite challenging input costs both in increased grain and record feeder cattle prices.
National feedlot capacity also reached a record 1,485,714 head in March 2022, indicating continued strong investor interest in grain fed beef production, which is pleasing to see.
Finally, we would like to thank our members for their continued support, especially as we start a new membership year.
Collectively, our feedlot members account for over 85% of Australia’s cattle feedlot capacity – a fantastic level of support, engagement and representation.
We will continue to be steely focused on delivering value and working in the best interests of our members, their businesses and the broader meat and livestock industry.