BeefLinks Field Day will have a virtual fencing focus in 2021

The first WA-based research project on virtual fencing technology will be the main focus of a BeefLinks Field Day at the Rio Tinto-owned Hamersley Station on Tuesday 31 August

Droughtmaster cattle part of the BeefLinks virtual fencing project at Hamersley Station. Photo: Evan Casey

BeefLinks is a collaborative research and development (R&D) partnership involving Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), MLA Donor Company (MDC) and The University of Western Australia.

The four-year research partnership is delivering an integrated and complementary R&D program for northern and southern production systems across WA that achieves profitable, consistent and sustainable beef yields matched to consumer expectations.

MLA Group Manager of Productivity and Animal Wellbeing, David Beatty, said BeefLinks aimed to develop a higher valued supply chain that is more productive and sustainable for the WA beef industry.

“BeefLinks aims to deliver $72 million in net benefits to more than 750 producers through increased production of saleable meat, increased weaning rates and a reduction in the environmental footprint across the supply chain,” Mr Beatty said.

“Through this partnership we are able to develop a greater understanding of the opportunities to enhance productivity and value along the red meat supply chain.”

Project leader UWA Professor Philip Vercoe said the BeefLinks Field Day at Hamersley Station, organised by BeefLinks partner West Midlands Group, was a valuable opportunity to share recent research results directly with key stakeholders including producers and extension officers.

“The key to the BeefLinks program is not just linking the research projects and development activities, but also communication amongst the people involved down the supply chain – from producers to processors,” Professor Vercoe said.

“The main focus of this Field Day is the virtual fencing project and the collaboration we have with Rio Tinto, but we will also be providing an update on all of the BeefLinks projects we have running.

“These are targeted on understanding how animals utilise the rich diversity of WA rangeland plants by looking at where animals go, what they eat when they are there and the nutritional value of what they are eating.”

DPIRD Development Officer Rachel Darwin will also be presenting on the pain relief work they are doing through an MLA Integrated R&D Producer Demonstration site project.

“The virtual fencing project is very exciting technology that has the potential to change the way we operate and manage animals in rangelands to improve both beef production and the health of rangelands – leading to long-term profitability and sustainability of the northern WA beef industry,” she said.

The northern beef industry is supported by a mosaic feedbase, and Professor Vercoe said a core research focus of the BeefLinks program was how to manage animals to better transition them across different feed types to avoid any dip in productivity down the supply chain.

“One of the biggest transitions is animals moving from the northern rangelands into southern regions for backgrounding and feedlotting, and the West Midland Group will be talking about the work they are doing as part of this in partnership with BeefLinks at the field day,” he said.

West Midlands Group Beef Industry Development Officer Erin O’Brien said WMG was enjoying the opportunity to work with numerous industry members in the Backgrounding project as part of the BeefLinks program, as well as organising the field day and developing relationships with pastoral stations.

The BeefLinks Field Day at Hamersley Station in the Pilbara Region will be held on Tuesday 31 August 2021 from 10am to 2pm.

This event is open to the public, register online.