In 2014, the Lloyds constructed an additional row of pens, to take the feedlot’s capacity from 5,000 head to 7,000. It was a significant investment that necessitated a review of operations and greater embrace of technology.
While relishing opportunities to remain hands-on – “We still truck cattle together in the afternoons when the workers have knocked off early, and we both love doing that” – the couple recognised that to survive and thrive they needed to delegate and systemise.
“Our staff numbers had to go up. We were sourcing more cattle and more grain. We knew we had to put technology in place to monitor the animals and get everything running smoothly,” Katie says.
“Expanding successfully meant looking at the bigger picture and part of that was acknowledging that our cattle are a really valuable commodity – particularly in the past five years with markets being very high – and that we really needed to have our finger on the pulse, with where we were, day to day.”
Implementing the StockaID and Feedlot3000 animal management systems has provided access to a large amount of data that wasn’t available in the old days of stock sheets and physical inspections.
“Being able to track animals from the day they arrive to the day they leave gives us a picture of how they perform, both individually and as part of a lot of cattle,” Katie says.
“There’s the ability to really hone in on a particular animal and perhaps work out why they haven’t done well, what the story could be.”
The feedlot’s capacity increased again in 2017, to 9,500 head, following the addition of another laneway of pens. The purchase of a neighbouring 445-hectare property the same year has also enabled the operation to produce more of its own fodder.