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Reaching for the roof: partial & covered housing research

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Australian lot feeders made a pledge to provide cattle under their care with access to shade by 2026 – let’s check in with Matt van der Saag from MLA to see how industry is stacking up to the target and what progress is currently underway with experiences shared by lot feeders, Alex Smith of Rangers Valley and Andrew Talbot from Killara Feedlot.

There are many different designs of shade and shelter, with complex and often quite site specific reasonings underpinning lot feeders’ choices.

As part of this session, Alex and Andrew will explain the design and type of structure that they decided upon, and the pros, cons, and learnings that they have discovered along the way.
Join our presenters as they share their experiences and learnings with shade/shelter.

Matt van der Saag | Project Manager, Feedlot & sustainability, MLA

Overview of Feedlot R&D Program and research into shade, partial and fully covered housing systems. Discussing the launch of the new MLA manual on partial & fully covered housing.

Andrew Talbot | General Manager, Elders Killara Feedlot

Sharing Elders’ Experience, learnings and positive performance outcomes from installing partial pen coverage with a two tiered waterproof tarp based system.

Alex Smith | Feedlot & External Cattle Operations, Rangers Valley

Providing an update on the MLA research project being conducted on site on partial pen coverage with an Entegra shed system.

With an increasing body of R&D on shade and shelter becoming available thanks to industry funding, combined with the openness within the lot feeding industry to share learnings and experiences with fellow lot feeders, our industry is making great progress towards its 2026 shade and shelter adoption target.

Join us on this rotation to find the missing piece to your shade/shelter solution, or simply converse with likeminded individuals going through the same infrastructure improvements as you.



Matt van der Saag

Matt is a Project Manager in Feedlot and Sustainability with Meat & Livestock Australia, with the overarching objective of delivering R&D outcomes that meet the needs of the Australian Lot Feeding Industry.

Matt is an animal scientist with post graduate qualifications in animal health and disease. He has worked in in numerous roles across government, university and commercial sectors prior to joining MLA. Within the feedlot program, Matt’s main areas of R&D focus are new methane mitigation technologies, new animal health treatments and products, animal welfare assessment, manure and effluent value adding and shade and covered housing.

Andrew Talbot

Andrew began his career in 1986 with Elders and specialised in livestock sales, supply chain management, procurement and in 2002 started his involvement in the feedlot sector in backgrounding cattle for feedlot entry. Today Andrew is the General Manager of Killara Feedlot in Quirindi NSW: a 20,000 head feedlot turning over 65,000 cattle per year. Andrew continues to be heavily involved in the livestock procurement and supply chain aspects of the business.

A passionate advocate of pre-conditioning cattle to better manage the challenges of feedlot life, Andrew has worked across the beef supply chain in eastern Australia providing feedback to producers on the benefits of yard weaning and pre-vaccinating. Andrew has also worked with industry stakeholders to hold trials on cattle performance and new technologies to create value and efficiency gains, as he recognises the power of sending information and feedback across the supply chain.

For Killara branded Angus beef, Andrew is heavily involved in the beef distribution chain into Asia. Over his career to date, Andrew has delivered and purchased over a million grain fed cattle to both domestic and export customers.

Alex Smith

Alex Smith is the Feedlot Manager at Rangers Valley Feedlot located at Glen Innes in the New England area of Northern NSW. Prior to Working at Rangers Valley, Alex has worked in various roles in lot feeding starting in 2007 with Mort & Co at Gunnee Feedlot, then Grassdale Feedlot in Dalby.

Rangers Valley specialises in Long Fed Angus and Wagyu cattle, currently feeding 40,000hd with up to 15,000hd in custom yards.


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