Grazier banking on growing industry with Allora feedlot
A FORMER Charleville grazier is turning his hand to feedlotting in the Toowoomba region, banking on a resurgence in the southwest sheep industry and the success of exclusion fencing across the state.
Stephen Schmidt, of Schmidt Grazing Industries, has broken ground on a sheep feedlot in his new home of Victoria Hill, near Allora, and expects to be in business before the year is out.
When completed, Victoria Hill will hold up to 16,200 sheep at any given time, and is tipped to be a big job creator in the growing industry.
Its potential as a job maker has been recognised with a $250,000 Regional Economic Development grant from the state government, which are awarded to rural enterprises that bolster local economies.
Mr Schmidt said the new branch of his business in the Toowoomba region will boost jobs not only in its current construction phase, but well in to the future.
"It can create a lot of jobs and a bit of stability in the market," he said.
"We (sheep feedlots) are a relatively new industry here, and we're looking forward to setting up relationships with producers and livestock agents to source lambs, and local hay and grain growers to supply feed.
"The primary production value chain will be impacted at all stages: sheep producers, contract mustering, livestock agents, livestock transport companies, vets, grain, hay and silage farmers, freight companies, livestock supplement suppliers, saleyards and abattoirs, meat packagers, butchers and meat wholesalers."
By Mr Schmidt's knowledge, Victoria Hill will be one of only a few sheep feedlots in the region, with others located around the Southern Downs and Balonne shires.
The location also puts him in prime position to a region which is collectively running more sheep, thanks to an extensive network of exclusion fencing.
He said the success of the fences in protecting flocks - and by consequence increasing numbers - on Schmidt Grazing Industries' Charleville properties, Cairns and Burrandilla, has played a big role in starting the Victoria Hill venture.
"Through western Queensland, definitely, sheep numbers have come up and people are going into more of a mixed enterprise … instead of only being able to run cattle," he said.
"About two years ago we started putting up 120km of exclusion fencing on our Charleville property; we can control the dog pressure from within our own boundary and know we're not getting any new wild dogs coming in to the area."
When the Allora feedlot first opens it will complement Schmidt's grazing operations, but Mr Schmidt said they are looking to open in stages, and expand to their full capacity.
"We want to set up a model similar to what the cattle feedlots do, and people will breed the lambs and have the opportunity to sell to the feedlot," he said.
"It gives everybody a bit more, or another option for their business, to where they can market their lambs and sheep."