September 6, 2013
Many northern pastoral businesses are operating in “survivability” mode, not profitability mode, says vet and beef industry consultant Dr Ian Braithwaite. Dr Braithwaite spoke at the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association (NTCA) Conference, asking producers, “are you production or profit orientated?” In his presentation to the NTCA Dr Braithwaite asked producers to consider what should constitute a profitable business and highlighted the “bleak reality of a production-driven business that was out of balance”. “It’s not enough to focus on production; you must identify and understand the key profit drivers to be successful in the northern pastoral game,” he said. He also said many northern pastoral businesses were operating in “survivability” not profitability mode, due to production-focused habits and behaviours. “Often we as an industry keep doing the same things day in and day out hoping that someday we’ll meet that goal of higher live weight gains or weaning percentages; we don’t take the time to reflect on the structure of our business and really understand what’s working for us and against us” he said. “A balanced business is a profitable business and it starts with understanding the dynamics of your cow herd, business make-up and overall production system.” He said northern beef production systems should be designed around the financial and climatic constraints of a business. “I work with pastoralists from Townsville to Broome. Those who operate with an understanding for their natural environment and economic realities are those that perform at best,” Dr Braithwaite said. Dr Braithwaite said northern producers have a lot to consider when developing a balanced business. “Every region and environment is different. “The business, herd and production dynamics in Katherine will differ to that of Alice Springs; and it’s these differences and how they are accounted for that will make the difference,” he said.