Beyond the gate

Host: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development — Aboriginal Business Development Project
Written by Daisy Goodwin, Development Officer

The Aboriginal Business Development (ABD) project works with six Aboriginal managed properties throughout Western Australia, the majority of which are pastoral.

These businesses are all in the process of improving the profitability of their businesses through increased technical skills of their people, capital investment in infrastructure, and greater market awareness. It is important they learn about what happens on farm, along with what happens off it.

Beemurra Aboriginal Corporation (BAC) own and manage Yallalie Farm in the Dandaragan shire. Over the last 4 years BAC has worked with DAFWAs Indigenous Landholder Service (now ABD) to investigate ways to improve the productivity of their land. The property has some sandy soil which is not suitable for growing high value grain crops, however research has shown sub-tropical perennial pastures would be highly productive. After assessing their options, BAC decided they would focus on grazing beef cattle and the best way to achieve this would be to improve their pastures and infrastructure.

This required developing a farm plan which involved creating new paddocks and upgrading the water system. The new water system would allow perennial pastures to be established and a rotational grazing system to be implemented. BAC received a grant from the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) which enabled them to invest in these capital items. Constructing new fences and upgrading the water system on Yallalie has been the priority over the last twelve months.

Over this time, BAC worked with producer groups such as Evergreen and Mingenew-Irwin Group (MiG). In establishing this relationship and conducting farm visits, BAC members built on their knowledge about perennial pastures and grazing systems. These systems are vital to efficiently managing pastures.

Once Yallalie had the new paddocks installed, BAC were able to decide on methods of sourcing cattle and establishing their business. Members chose the best way to utilise their pastures would be growing cattle on consignment from other clients. However, in order to provide the best service to their clients, they must have an understanding of the beef supply chain.

In March this year, BAC participated in a supply chain tour run by the ABD project. This tour assisted members to gain an insight into the marketing side of WA beef cattle. Over the trip, BAC members and ABD staff explored some of the various destinations cattle could travel to from the farm. These included:

  • A feedlot specialised in Wagyu cattle, an interesting and exciting market
  • One of the largest feedlots in Western Australia and a main supplier of Coles supermarkets
  • A feedlot where cattle are held before they are shipped for live export
  • A state-of-the-art abattoir south of Perth

Cattle at at the live export feedlot.

Each of the feedlots was a little different and all had specific markets they were specialising in. This included targeting the domestic supermarkets, live export and boxed export markets. With the improvements made to Yallalie, BAC will be able to receive cattle from their clients and enable them to meet the specifications for all these markets.

Kylagh Feedlot (Max Cunnington, Stockwest; Penny Crane, Kylagh Feedlot; Kevin Barron, BAC; Lexine Mourambine, BAC; Madeline Anderson, BAC; Tony Gray, ABD visiting Kylagh Feedlot).

Feed at Kylagh Feedlot.

In exploring these facilities, participants were able to witness largely different beef businesses in WA and the role BAC could play in improving the supply of quality beef in WA.