Innovation has been the key to the success of David and Katy Gillett’s Jalna Feedlot, at Anakie, near Geelong.
And a newly installed 8500-square metre roof is the latest innovation on the property, that has been in the family since 1946.
The $1 million project kicked off last year, with the basic objective of providing quality cover for the beef cattle’s last 30 days at the feedlot.
But Mr Gillett said the knock-on benefits were vast and far-reaching.
When exposed to the elements during winter, cattle are often left cold and wet, and the roof allows them to stay warmer and drier, so reduction of stress on the animals was a major aspect both from animal welfare and commercial angles.
The fifth-generation farmer said this in-turn leads to a reduction in the feed required as warm animals eat less, and also means the animals are leaving the property cleaner, saving work down the line.
“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,” Mr Gillett said.
He said the overall amenity improvements for workers on the property has also improved, with less time spent in muddy yards or in the rain.
He said he believes in staying not just a step, but streets ahead of average industry standards.
“The idea of the roof is that we’ll be taking our feedlotting to a whole new level,” he 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.”
The feedlot has also been working on its water harvesting and re-use, installing a rain harvesting and storage system to turn “waste stormwater into a resource”.
Based on the average rainfall for the area, the estimate is that around 3.8 million litres of water can potentially be captured for use every year.
The main catchment tank is a huge 375 kilolitres (KL), with plans to add a second one in the near future.
When this main tank hits 33 per cent capacity, it automatically pumps out to three daisy-chained 260KL tanks, which is where the water is drawn from daily.
Mr Gillett is also looking to add an extra 275KL to these three tanks to increase storage capacity.
He said the tanks have reduced operating costs and increased profitability on the property, also providing a terrific range of environmental benefits.
He said the water storage would also provide peace of mind that they were prepared in case fire ever broke out, like it did in early 2016, destroying $1 million worth of feed that was packed in a hay shed.
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