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Equipment performance and longevity weigh in Gallagher's favour at Duaringa Station

For Duaringa Station Grazing Co., detailed records on individual animals is a must. The Donovan family has run the integrated cropping, commercial beef breeding, backgrounding and feedlotting business for decades, with Bruce and Beryl Donovan taking over in the 1960s.

The operation is spread across three properties in Central Queensland: a property at Gogango runs up to 1,100 Droughtmaster breeders, with a backgrounding property north of Dingo, while Duaringa Station Feedlot is ideally situated between the two, just off the junction of the Mackenzie, Dawson and Fitzroy Rivers.

Sarah Donovan, who is Secretary at Central Queensland Carcase Classic Committee, manages the feedlot that her parents Bruce and Beryl, set up in the late 1990s.

“Duaringa Station is about 8,000 acres [3,240 hectares] of cultivation or cropping country, 4,000 acres [1,620ha] of tableland country and a 3,000-head feedlot. We produce a variety of coarse grains – wheat, sorghum, corn – and well as pulses, cotton and silage. My parents built the feedlot in the late 1990s. It was never part of the original plan for Duaringa Station, but when sorghum prices kept falling and went below $100 a tonne, it pushed them to diversify.”

The accredited feedlot has a capacity of 3,000 Standard Cattle Units, and custom feeding now represents, on average, half of their feedlotting operation.

“It’s our intention to grow enough grain to supply the feedlot, but being a dryland farming operation, the weather really does dictate whether we need to buy in more grain or not. Predominantly our ration includes dry rolled wheat, but it can also include other grains, such as sorghum and corn, depending on availability.”

Record accuracy

Running an accredited feedlot comes with a host of requirements.

Sarah says, “One particularly is recording the treatments each animal has received — including the dosage and their withholding periods. Administering the correct dosage of each treatment is made far easier by being able to use accurate weights. This, in turn, saves us money and allows the treatment to work well.”

To that end, Sarah says Duaringa Station Grazing Co. has used Gallagher weighing systems for “many years”.

“We’ve used a Gallagher W810 for quite a while. It’s proven to be a very reliable, durable and highly transportable system, which has allowed us to successfully weigh and draft cattle across our three properties — including our feedlot.

“But after many years of use, we finally needed to replace our W810 towards the end of last year. We didn’t really consider looking outside the Gallagher product range, because we were already so pleased with the W810’s performance and longevity. We saw the Gallagher TW-3, which looked really good.”

The Gallagher TW-3 Weigh Scale and Data Collector is an advanced electronic identification-compatible weigh scale and data collector. Simple to operate, it’s a touchscreen weigh scale with the additional functionality of life data and trait recording.

Sarah says, “We were immediately impressed with the TW-3 because it not only has the existing functions of the W810, but it also has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, a much larger touchscreen so it enables more information to be displayed, and a much larger keyboard –which is crucial for fast and accurate data entry.”

Management tool

She says the TW-3 allows weight recording, multiple drafting, recording multiple traits and treatments, and data analysis while the animal is still in the crush.

“We can determine which animals are performing well, which animals aren’t and those that are possibly sick and need treatment. 

“Gallagher’s TW-3 provides information on each animal at their next weighing, such as its corresponding withholding period. The beauty of this system is that this information can be entered at the time the animals are being treated, which saves me many valuable hours in the office.

“Our feedlot has been very fortunate to feed many cattle destined for various commercial cattle competitions, so we need all this data and we need it to be accurate.

“The Gallagher weighing systems have played a major part in allowing us to provide valuable information to our clients on their animals’ weight gain, feed conversion and also how their animals have performed with, and without, the use of hormonal growth promotants.

“This information therefore gives not just ourselves, but other producers, the ability to review their animals’ performance and then apply their management decisions accordingly.

“It’s a really valuable tool that’s also easy to use, and because we can see the benefits in the future, we’re also looking to get into the Cloud with Gallagher’s Dashboard Pro. This will give us more advanced analysis, with access from any of our properties just using a web-enabled device.”

"The Gallagher weighing systems have played a major part in allowing us to provide valuable information to our clients on their animals’ weight gain and feed conversion"