With 180,000 cattle fed and sold each year, Mort & Co is Australia’s largest private feedlot business.

Story by Nathan Dyer

On a warm February afternoon on the Darling Downs, Scott McDouall runs a handful of steam-flaked grain between his fingers. Nearby, a front-end loader scoops a bucket of feed from a batch box and drops it into a purpose-built mixing truck. “Our big focus here is on feed conservation efficiency,” says Scott, above the roar of machinery and the murmur of 43,000 cattle waiting for their afternoon ration. “That’s the profit driver of our business.”
Meat and livestock general manager for Mort & Co, Scott oversees operations of Australia’s largest privately owned lot feeding business, including here at the company’s flagship Grassdale facility. Forty kilometres south of Dalby, Grassdale is an industry leader in efficiency. Behind Scott, the silos of a state-of-the-art steam-flaking mill rise skyward as a case-in-point. “The steam flaking process makes the starches in the grain more easily digestible and makes as much energy available in that grain as possible,” explains feedlot manager, Jordan Peach.
Although the exact mix is tweaked daily for each pen, most cattle here will chomp down a ration consisting of 75 per cent grain – predominantly wheat or barley – with a roughage content of cereal straw, lucerne hay, white cottonseed, cottonseed hulls, cottonseed meats and silage. Vegetable oil and molasses-based supplements round out the mix. “That gives them all the nutrients they need to stay fit and healthy, and it gives them the calorie intake so they can put beef on,” Jordan says. Finisher animals – those on feed for 20 days or more – will consume about 14 kilograms of feed to achieve a target weight gain of 2.3kg per day. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #108

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2016