At the CSIRO-run Belmont Station in central Queensland, every aspect of how cattle are bred, fed and handled is under the microscope.

Story by Suzy Young and Photos by James McEwan

Wide, green paddocks; fat, red cattle; a big, old homestead with a picket fence; tall trees; numerous sheds; various vehicles – it appears to be a typical well-managed Queensland cattle-fattening property after good rain. But on closer inspection, any grazier worth his wire strainers will see that there is something anomalous about this place. The paddocks are abnormally small, the cattle races are unusually long, there are mysterious electronic contraptions on gateposts and collars with radio aerials on some of the stock. In addition, every square centimetre is being watched from space.
This is Belmont Research Station, 32 kilometres north of Queensland’s cattle capital Rockhampton, and possibly the most important 3260 hectares in Australia as far as the future of the beef industry is concerned. Owned by AgForce Queensland and leased to the CSIRO, Belmont Station and its nearby adjunct, the J.M. Rendel Laboratory, are part of CSIRO Livestock Industries, a network of facilities working to improve and develop Australia’s livestock industry using leading edge science and some of the best brains in beef. According to the brochure, the organisation’s purpose is to “ … create, develop and commercialise technologies for novel products, new production options, improved production efficiency, disease control and product quality throughout the livestock industry value chain”.

This story excerpt is from Issue #46

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2006