This is why the fifth-generation farmer, and wife Katy, have decided to put a roof more than 8500 square metres of their Anakie feedlot.
“The idea of the roof is that we’ll be taking our feedlotting to a whole new level,” Mr Gillett said.
“Industry standards are extremely high right now, but we don’t want to just be meeting these standards, we want to be staying 10 steps ahead.”
He said the roof would make a big difference to production, particularly during winter.
“In southern climates where there is a cooler, wetter climate, one of our biggest challenges is keeping the cattle warm,” Mr Gillett said.
“Cattle will spend the last 30 days under the roof on woodchip bedding floors, and when they come out they’ll be a lot cleaner, which saves a lot of work in washing cattle at abattoirs during the winter.”
He said it would also mean they save money on feed.
“The cattle eat more during winter to keep themselves warm, so we’re anticipating that in a warmer environment, feed consumption will decrease, which will save cost on feed,” he said.
He said the renovation wouldn’t be possible without a $500,000 grant that they received from the Coles Nurture Fund.
“We sell to many markets, but Coles is our main market, we’ve been selling to them for about seven or eight years,” he said.
“To have a company like Coles really have confidence in what we’re doing is a big deal.”
He said the business partnership has worked well for so long because they have been able to offer a consistent, quality product, “that’s there every day of the week”.
“The key is that we work very closely with them to develop and supply a constant, quality product,” he said.
“We don’t make too many changes in what we do, we’ve got a system that works and we stick to it.”
The farm has been in Mr Gillett’s family since 1946, where they originally ran a superfine Merino operation, with a bit of cropping.
“We started the feedlot in 1969, but we were originally dealing with the sheep export trade,” he said.
“In the late 1970s, we started doing feeding for Japanese export cattle, and then swung over to domestic cattle.
“At one stage, we were doing both sheep and cattle, but we found it was a better proposition to just run domestic cattle, so by the early 80s, we were just doing that full-time.”
He said they buy cattle at weekly markets all throughout Victoria and into southern New South Wales.
“We have a few commision buyers who buy for us, and I give them a specification of what they have to buy and how much we’re willing to spend,” he said.
“We also have a network of growers who we deal with directly.”
He said they also custom-feed for some clients.
“They own the cattle and we feed them, it goes hand in hand,” he said.
He said cattle are bought at 10-12 months, and kept for 70-100 days.
“The Coles butcher cattle are kept for 70 days, and the finest cattle, which are all Angus steers, are kept for 100 days,” he said.
He said cattle are on a high-energy grain-fed diet, with some roughage.
“We have a nutritionist who has spent all of his life doing feedlot nutrition in Texas, and we work quite closely with him,” he said.
Pending planning approval from the local council, Mr Gillett said they are hoping to get started on the roof towards the end of May, and be finished by the end of July.
“It’s not going over the entire feedlot, just one group of pens, so we will close off that group of pens when the work begins,” he said.
Applications for round four of the Nurture Fund are open until this Friday.