A cattle producer near Anakie has received a $500,000 Coles grant to embark on an innovative project which will enhance animal welfare and is expected to save more than 170 tonnes of animal feed annually.
Jalna Feedlot will use a grant from the Coles Nurture Fund to build a specially-designed roof over a portion of its feedlot, which will enhance animal welfare standards by protecting cattle against the winter climate, resulting in cleaner animals and reducing the amount of feed they consume to keep warm.
Fifth-generation farmer David Gillett and his wife Katy run the cropping and cattle operation on around 6,000 hectares in the Anakie area, where David’s family has farmed since 1946.
Pending planning approval from the City of Greater Geelong Council, the 8,500 square metre roof is expected to create efficiencies at the farm, offer an enhanced environment for cattle and create 11 new jobs.
“In southern climates where there is a cooler, wetter climate, one of our biggest challenges is to keep cattle warm and clean in the winter time. Cattle also consume extra feed to keep themselves warm, so building this roof will increase cattle comfort and help to reduce their daily feed intake,” David said.
“Building a roof structure like this has not been done in Victoria on such a large scale. Without funding from the Nurture Fund the project wouldn’t have gone ahead, it’s a pretty substantial cost to do it,” he said.
“The funding gives us really good security going ahead for the business and our staff. We estimate the project will create six new jobs during construction and five local jobs ongoing to help with pen cleaning and the resulting increase in compost operations.”
Jalna Feedlot has supplied cattle to Coles for around seven years now, directly for the Coles butcher range and custom-feeding for the Maconochie family which produces Coles Finest cattle.
Coles Managing Director John Durkan said the Nurture Fund grant would help to ensure customers were able to buy great tasting beef produced with high animal welfare standards.
“We’re really pleased to support this innovation at Jalna Feedlot which has the potential to benefit the whole feedlot industry in the future,” he said.
“Coles has invested significantly in our beef supply chain in the past few years to ensure we are offering customers high quality Australian-sourced beef in all our stores. It is projects like this in the beef industry that work towards improving meat quality for our customers.”
The project at Jalna addresses a total supply chain approach to animal welfare and quality, food safety, and has the potential to influence Victoria’s entire feedlot industry once other producers see the benefits.
“By reducing the amount of mud and dirt that attaches to the animals’ coats during the winter, it creates benefits throughout the whole food chain,” David said.
“Currently cattle need to be washed when they go to the abattoir, which can create stress for the animal and impact the meat quality. It can also lead to challenges in food safety standards.”
The new roof will be designed to provide natural ventilation and airflow for the cattle and will also help to reduce water consumption at the farm by diverting rainfall off the roof into holding tanks, resulting in a saving of approximately 4.6 million litres of mains water each year.
David said having the support from Coles builds confidence for the business and its staff for the future.
“If Coles is prepared to support our business, it gives us great confidence that the relationship is working well and hopefully will continue to work well,” he said.
David and Katy are aiming to build the roof structure before winter 2017, with construction to be undertaken by a family-owned business located near Geelong using Australian-made materials.
Pictured - David & Katy Gillett