“We’ve been so inspired and motivated by the young, energetic people in the Challenge. All of us are doing what we love and really making a life out of it. It’s a story of rejuvenation.”

Clients Lachlan and Anna Hughes took part in the MLA (Meat & Livestock Australia) challenge, a 12-month program that saw six farming families make improvements to their businesses with the help of research outcomes, mentors and benchmarking.

Lachlan Hughes is a fifth generation beef producer managing two of the family’s properties at Dulacca, north-west of Toowoomba on the Darling Downs. He and his family run a 7,000-head herd of Angus-cross cattle over four different properties: Banchory Station outside of Clermont, Crescendo near Capella, Dulacca Downs and Heatherlea at Dulacca.

After a year in the MLA Challenge, Lachlan said they have feed on offer for the next year and have increased cattle numbers, with average weights being around 40kg heavier than the same time last year. Drought plans are in place, with cattle removed from pastures when they reach 1000-1200kgDM/ha and orderly destocking ready to go if the area has another dry Spring.

“We put cattle into our feedlot system every two weeks, so we need a constant supply of cattle, the right amount of pasture, and a good monitoring system," said Lachlan. "We didn’t have any of that before the Challenge.  

“Now that we’re using the Feed on Demand Calculator and the Stocktake App, we have structure in how we manage the country and deal with the weather. It has removed the stress of not knowing how much grass is there.

 “We’ve been buying in cattle to make the most of the feed on offer. This time last year we didn’t have enough cattle to take advantage of it, and we lost the chance to convert grass to kilograms.”

Lachlan said the main outcome of the Challenge has been understanding the impact of efficiencies on the business and accepting what couldn’t be changed, such as prices and weather.

“Before the Challenge we thought we were very efficient," said Lachlan. "If things went wrong we tended to blame the weather.”

"We’ve changed our whole attitude now so that we can work with the conditions we have, manage our environment sustainably and achieve astonishing triple-bottom-line outcomes.

“We’ve been so inspired and motivated by the young, energetic people in the Challenge. All of us are doing what we love and really making a life out of it. It’s a story of rejuvenation.”