Third generation Georgetown beef producer Kelvin Bethel, Namuel, says live export remains an important part of his marketing mix, despite a shift to finishing in recent decades.
Mr Bethel and his wife Kelly operate with Mr Bethel’s family and run 1700 breeders across 25,500ha, 10km west of Georgetown, and have aim to finish a significant portion of their steer and cull heifers, depending on the seasons.
Mr Bethel has established good buyers for finished steers at Tully and one on the Tablelands who takes the speyed heifers.
But he said live export still remained an important part of their business.
“It's a good market to have,” Mr Bethel said. “It puts a floor in the market and if you didn't have them - even though you don't use it, it takes a lot of cattle out of the seasons where the meatworks can't handle what they've got now let alone those cattle as well.”
The Bethels have also shifted their focus away from Brahman genetics in recent years, introducing Senepol, Charbray and Brangus bulls to the herd.
The Senepol bulls come from Kingaroy, Mr Bethel breeds his own Charbrays, and the Brangus bulls are purchased from the Atherton Tablelands.
He said the need to change the generic mix of the herd became apparent when weaning rates dropped to a low of 40 per cent. Between a mixture of management and genetics changes, and a turn in the seasons, he is now achieving weaning rates of about 70 per cent.
The family spell paddocks each year during the wet, and open them back up once the season changes. ”We’re getting back to simple ideas - it just got too complicated,” Mr Bethel said.
They do three weaning rounds each year, and depending on the season Mr Bethel said he will wean his maiden heifers at about 80kg-100kg, but the core herd is about 200-250kg before being weaned.
This calendar year Namuel has seen 400mm of rain already, with the wet yet to come. The unseasonably good season has been great for the region.