Agistment - Some properties have
areas set aside for agistment; others use the whole property.
Graziers can pay to bring in a mob of cattle to be agisted on these
areas. This may be necessary if feed on the herd's home property is
poor, or if the graziers wants to fatten them more quickly to
target a specific market.
Annual - plant which lives only one year. Of less value
in pastoral context than perennials, which tend to be hardier.
Brahman - A breed of cattle widely
used for cross breeding in northern Australia. They have a special
tolerance to heat and drought and are also somewhat tick-resistant,
unlike more temperate breeds.
Branding - process necessary to ascertain how many head
of young cattle have been added to herd each year. In addition to
marking animals with branding iron, castration and inoculation are
also carried out at this time, as all new cattle are in yards.
Breeder - cow mature enough to be used for breeding.
CALM - Computer Aided Livestock
Marketing System: Electronic auctioning system which details
specifics of animals on the market. Allows producers to buy without
having to go to market. Even more significantly for some of the
remote producers in the savannas, it allow producers to sell
without having to truck their stock to market before sales are
certain. If cattle are not sold, it costs the producer nothing to
take them off the market.
Fire management - The role of fire
is very significant for the pastoral industry in the tropical
savannas. It is used in managing woody plant distribution,
maintaining pasture condition, managing grazing pressure, and
increasing the amount of nutritious feed available to cattle. It
can also have a role in aiding the establishment of improved
pastures, controlling exotic weeds and maintaining
Forbs - non-woody broad leaved plants.
Green pick - the first green
shoots (usually high in nitrogen/protein) that occur after a
Growing season - season during which grasses are
growing/gaining bulk. Coincides with time of available nitrogen/
protein since green growth indicates these nutrients. Also time
during which cattle gain weight. Often period during which
phosphorous supplement will be required in the areas of northern
Australia lacking in it.
Hays off - When the standing
matter dries out and turns to hay. Can be a positive thing, or
negative, depending on the time of year in which it occurs, and the
particular grass. When Mitchell grass hays off, the standing matter
maintains its nutritive value. The majority of grasses in northern
Australia however lose much of their nutritive value when dry.
Heifer - a cow that has not produced a calf and is under
three years of age.
Hot burns - refers to high intensity fires, usually
occurring later in the year, when dry fuel has accumulated.
Herbage - all non-woody plants in a pasture.
Herd management - This term refers to ways in which
managers can manipulate the age/ sex structure of a herd. Via
practices such as controlled mating, strategic weaning and
pregnancy testing, the number of calves produced per year can be
controlled and predicted. Without these practices, herd growth may
be excessive and could result in overstocking which is good neither
for the condition of the animals, nor of the land.
Herd composition - Refers to number of animals in each
different category (eg. breeder, heifer, steer, weaner) Composition
of the herd is altered by breeding, by buying and selling stock and
by mortality rates. All of these can be strategically manipulated
to maintain ultimate herd composition for production. Different
enterprises will aim for different composition, depending on
Improved pastures - generally
exotic species which have greater productive potential than native
grasses in the same environment. However, also require more inputs
of capital and labour, and may become pests outside of a pastoral
environment. See: The value of improved pastures (NT DPIF); and the
Pasture species sowing guide for the Top End (NT DPIF). Both are
available as PDFs from the NTDPIF website, links at the end of the
Live export - many cattle which
would normally have been turned off to be fattened on richer
grazing country to the south and east, or to feedlots, are now
exported and fattened in their country of destination. Some of the
requirements of buyers of live cattle have necessitated more
intensive management strategies. Major live export markets include
Egypt, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Native/exotic weed - In the
tropical savannas both native and exotic plants can be considered
weeds in certain contexts. With changing fire regimes some areas
have seen the density of native tree species increasing to unheard
of levels. This can make mustering difficult, and shades out native
grasses. Broader ecological impacts are not well understood. Exotic
weeds are plants out of their original environment, although not
all plants in this bracket become weeds, only those that cause
trouble, either for production or for ecology.
Pasture availability - The amount
of pasture available to be consumed over the dry season is what
limits the number of animals to be run in paddock for that year. A
generally accepted figure is that 25% of the pasture available at
the end of the growing season can be utilised without causing
detrimental changes in pasture health.
Over utilisation can lead to:
Under utilisation can lead to:
Pasture condition - The complex distribution of native
pasture communities, across the savannas, is primarily dependent on
the region's local climate, rainfall, soils, geology and hydrology.
However, management strategies implemented can modify native
pasture lands through grazing pressure, fire regimes, land
clearing, introduction of exotic pasture species and weed invasion.
Assessment of their condition is, therefore, important in their
It is considered that the vegetative composition of pasture
lands may be a key indicator of their condition (Wheaton, T. 1994).
Therefore, the presence or density of particular plant species, in
specific pasture communities, can suggest their overall condition.
Generally, in evaluating the state of pasture lands, a combination
of vegetation condition, soil condition and management capabilities
are assessed. From this they may be ranked as either pristine,
deteriorating or degraded in relation to the degree of damage.
Pasture grass communities - The term 'pasture' refers to
the mixture of all grasses growing in a certain area. Tothill and
Gillies (1992) have broken them up into three simple brackets:
Perennial - pasture grasses that last longer than one
year. These grasses tend to be more stable under grazing.
Perennials such as mitchell grass can provide valuable feed over
the dry season.
Selective grazing - Cattle have
preferences when grazing. Under extensive conditions, they will
return to previously grazed patches, and ignore areas of rank
mature pasture. Repeated grazing of these patches can lead to a
lessening of plant yield, death of desirable species and
development of bare areas.
Steer - castrated male bullock
Stocking rate - Measured in terms of either number of
beasts per hectare, or hectares required per animal. It is probably
the single most important factor in grazing management. It will
influence the long and short term land condition and the live
weight gain per animal and per hectare. Set stocking rates, which
do not account for seasonal fluctuations, are still common. Because
of the annual variations in pasture quantity and quality, stocking
rates should be adjusted on a seasonal basis. While this would be
conducive to improved pasture and animal performance it is often
difficult in terms of cattle management.
Store cattle - this refers to cattle which are sold off
to be fattened elsewhere. 'Store' cattle can also refer to live
export market since these tend to be fattened by feedlot at
destination. During lean times, this is a way of controlling herd
growth and managing impact. During good seasons, or if the price is
low, stores can be bought to be fattened or to make up herd
numbers. Store cattle markets include:
live cattle exports
Supplementary feeding - very important development for
the pastoral industry in the tropical savannas. Certain nutrients,
which are severely lacking in pastures at certain times of the
year, can be supplied via blocks or licks to tide herds over. To
generalise, phosphorous is severely limited in higher rainfall
areas, whereas nitrogen/ protein more important for inland areas,
especially during dry season and/ or droughts. There are many
regions where both must supplied, depending on the season and
condition of the pasture.
These can supply protein, energy and trace elements which may be
lacking in the pasture. Examples include molasses, urea (which can
be toxic if not fed correctly) and grains.
Tillering - as the plant grows
tillers emerge. These are new leaves which emerge from the root or
bottom of the original stalk.
Turkey nests - raised earth dams for watering cattle.
Top feed - shrubs, bushes and trees which are
Turn off - refers to numbers of cattle either sold or
agisted from a given property. Numbers from any given property will
fluctuate from year to year depending on market factors, seasonal
fluctuations, herd composition and so forth.
Vectors - in this context, an
insect or other organism which transmits agents of disease. Feral
pigs for example have the potential to harbour diseases which would
be disastrous to the cattle industry such as foot and mouth.
Mosquitos are another example.
Weaner management - important
because it reduces the stress on breeders, and has a major
influence on the future temperament and productivity of the
animals. Early weaning reduces cow mortality and increases calving
rates. Also, weaners need to be "educated". That is, well handled
cattle are easier to muster and handle, and will be less stressed
when transported and marketed. Animals with a calmer temperament
also sell more easily on the live cattle market.
Weaner - young cattle only recently weaned off their
Woody weed - Tree or shrub which is growing outside of
its normal habitat. Can be introduced or native.