Recently I traveled to Queensland, Australia, to visit a friend of mine. She works as a consulting nutritionist to a number of feed yards in Australia and other countries in the South Pacific. I was fortunate enough to be able to ride with her to a few yards and was able to see how things are done on the other side of the world.
The fed cattle market is very different in Australia. Cattle for the domestic market are fed to a certain days on feed (65-70 days) as set by 2 domestic grocery stores. The reason being is shelf space. Each cut has a specific dimension that it must fit into and the short fed, lighter cattle have a smaller carcass that won’t exceed the dimensions of the designated space. What the consumer sees in the case, are packages of steaks which are very uniform in size that would grade select at best in the US. The cattle that won’t make it to the domestic market are sold heavier to the US and other countries.
Waygu cattle also fill a few yards around Australia. They are either pure bred or crossed with dairy beef and tend to be more heat tolerant than British bred cattle. These cattle are in the yard for the long haul. We visited a yard in northern Victoria with several pens of cattle that were over 600 days on feed, weighing in the neighborhood of 1,980 lbs. and still had days to go. The Waygu cattle are sold for the Kobe beef market. The front half of the carcass holds the most value and looking at the cattle, you can see that they are bred with that in mind. There’s not much in the rear half like you would see with British or Continental bred cattle.
The feedstuffs utilized in the yards are similar to what is used in parts of the US. Barley and wheat are the main grain sources, cereal grain hay and some silage for the roughages and the supplement is carried by liquid molasses. If they are using a distillers’ product it’s sorghum rather than corn.
When you get down to it, cattle feeding doesn’t differ that much regardless of where you are. Everyone is feeding to suit their market, using what resources they have near. All that differs is the slang used by the hired hands and the units of measure on the scale.