CATTLE NUTRITION: Beth and Ross Shanks share their innovative farming practices. Photo Kate Darvall/ South Burnett Times
CATTLE NUTRITION: Beth and Ross Shanks share their innovative farming practices. Photo Kate Darvall/ South Burnett Times Kate Darvall

Producer Beth Shanks no longer at the mercy of the weather

BETH and Ross Shanks were burnt out with a wild fire almost three years ago and struggled through three very dry years on their Booubyjan cattle property.

Their pasture and the organisms in the soil were left depleted, and they were at a loss.

At the mercy of the weather, Mrs Shanks said she and her husband knew they needed to take the power back into their own hands and bring the soil and pasture back to health.

Now almost three years later, the couple have noticed better pasture health and greater weight gains in their cattle.

And Mrs Shanks credits it to innovative practices and hard work.

The Booubyjan couple put a lot of time into trialling different treatments to improve cattle nutrition and pasture on the property.

Mrs Shanks said protein intake was monitored through dung sampling their cattle.

Cattle at the Toogoolawah Sale Yards Photo Ali Kuchel / Gatton Star
Cattle at the Toogoolawah Sale Yards Photo Ali Kuchel / Gatton Star Ali Kuchel

After trialling treatments including superphosphate fertiliser and organic bio fertiliser, Mrs Shanks said she noticed fantastic results.

"There's more nutrients in the treated paddock than there is in the untreated," Mrs Shanks said.

"Our cattle never liked those paddocks before they were treated but now they will stick their heads down and graze continually."

The Booubyjan cattle producer said a lot of time was spent looking at practical ways to improve their native pasture.

"Parts are very hilly, stony, tough country," Mrs Shanks said.

She said she and her husband Ross tried a range of treatments but said two in particular surprised her with just how effective they were.

One paddock with huge improvements was fertilised with superphosphate fertiliser and the other was sprayed with an organic bio fertiliser liquid.

She said the extent of the improvements caught her off guard.

"The surprising thing was how cheap superphosphate is and how little you need to use to get a distinct improvement," she said.

Compared to other treatments trialled, she said the improvement in growth, protein and micronutrients in the paddocks went far beyond her expectations.

Quick Summer Cool Off by Patricia Lamoreaux. Judge's comments:
Quick Summer Cool Off by Patricia Lamoreaux. Judge's comments: "A well-constructed photograph with good use of strong lines of the fence breaking the photograph into thirds. It is in the consideration taken in positioning of the cattle, that make this photograph interesting." Photo contributed 195029000786

Mrs Shanks said the couple also incorporated legumes to their innovative trials.

"The legumes put nitrogen into the soil, which means it's higher in protein," she said.

She said this lead to increased weight gain in her cattle, which was the ultimate goal.

Mrs Shanks said the legumes held on longer throughout the year, which meant they were not so reliant on supplement feed.

The producer said their recent success through various treatments made a huge difference to the couple's production.

She said it meant they were in control and no longer at the mercy of the weather.

Mrs Shanks will speak at a forum this month where she will share her knowledge and experience.

She will be joined by other speakers at the pasture forum and field walk in Booubyjan on March 16.

She said speakers would discuss different issues including animal nutrition and different grazing practices.

For more information, or to attend the forum phone Beth on 41686167 or Andrea on 41686004. Alternatively, email ross.shanks@bigpond.com.

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