The $5 billion Future Drought Fund is an investment by the Australian Government to build drought resilience in Australia’s agriculture sector, landscapes and communities. Each year, $100 million is made available to help Australian farms and communities prepare for the impacts of drought.
2024 Nuffield Scholar
Can feedlots play a role in ‘drought-proofing’ Australia’s livestock production?
Caitlin Herbert is a sixth-generation farmer, with her family owning and operating Gundamain Pastoral Co for 150 years. Located in Eugowra, Central West NSW, the Herberts produce grain-fed cattle, Merino wool and prime lambs, as well as a dryland cropping operation.
As part of her 2024 scholarship supported by Future Drought Find, Caitlin is curious about the role cattle feedlots can play in ‘drought-proofing’ the Australian beef supply chain.
“Australia is known for facing weather extremes such as droughts, floods, heatwaves, and frosts,” says Caitlin.
“Drought is a society-wide problem, and research into drought resilience will ensure Australia can endure the changing environment and recover quicker.”
Caitlin says feedlots are a promising solution for drought mitigation, allowing alternate feed sources, increased animal welfare protocols, satisfying risk registry protocols and contingency plans.
As a 2024 scholar, she aims to visit cattle producing areas utilising feedlots during times of drought, such as the US, Canada and South America.
While use of feedlots is common, Caitlin has found there is limited data available on their impact on the beef supply chain's preparation, response to, and recovery from, drought.
A challenge for livestock farmers around the world, Caitlin hopes to add to the growing body of work around using technology to manage climate risks and optimise production.
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