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FEEDMAN - a pasture and crop decision support system

Rickert, K. Dr; Ph: (07) 5460 1113; Fax: (07) 5460 1324;

Research Organisation: School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, University of Queensland, Gatton College, Qld 4345;


Mr. P Thompson, PT's Property Planning Service; Dr G. McKeon, QDNR


Australian Meat Research Corporation


  • Create and validate FEEDMAN, an easy to use decision support package that evaluates options for different pastures and forage crops, herd husbandry and beef marketing in the endowed zone of northern Australia.
  • Commercialise and distribute the package to industry after a favourable evaluation in a wide range of beef farms.
  • Identify the deficiencies in the knowledge of forage systems for beef production in the endowed zone.

Specifically, FEEDMAN had to:

  • enable users to input actual farm information such as rainfall, type and area of soil in each paddock and relevant costs and prices;
  • cater for a range of forage types including:
  • native pasture of varying condition, fertility status and tree density;
  • sown grass pastures of high, medium and low fertility status;
  • forage crops of oats, lablab and sorghum;
  • grain crop stubbles;
  • legumes such as leucaena, stylo, medics and lucerne;
  • temperate grasses;
  • contain a comprehensive range of market specification for beef cattle;
  • evaluate different livestock and paddock management options such as stocking rate and grain feeding;
  • calculate a partial budget analysis for each growing and finishing activity;
  • estimate sustainable stocking rates for a given scenario;
  • provide a comprehensive range of reports and graphs of results;
  • ensure convenient storage and recall of different management scenarios: and
  • operate on default values for different regions or customised inputs for individual farms, including historical or current rainfall.


The challenge in developing FEEDMAN was to create a package that was user-friendly, catered for complexity in the farming system and accurately simulated the key biological and economic processes on beef farms in the endowed zone of northern Australia. A prototype of FEEDMAN was created by a development team consisting of a research scientist, an agricultural adviser and a computer programmer. The mathematical descriptions of the underlying biology were derived from results of past research and a simulation model called GRASP, and validated against independent research results. Following a further evaluation by a panel of four potential users in a range of locations, the final version was published and distributed by the Queensland Department of Primary Industries. The purchase price included after-sales service. Registered users may obtain phone advice on the operation of FEEDMAN and attend a one-day training workshop. To aid management of the ongoing commercial arrangements there is a memorandum of understanding between the Australian Meat Research Corporation, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, and University of Queensland.

Progress: FEEDMAN developed and distributed.

Period: starting date 1993-05; completion date 1996-06

Status: completed

Keywords: Decision support systems, grazing systems, feed year planning, beef production, growing cattle


Thompson, P. J. M. (1996). A Decision Support System for Beef Cattle Production in the 'Endowed' Region of Northern Australia. M Agr Sc Thesis, University of Queensland, 119 pp.

Rickert, K.G., Thompson, P.J.M., Pritchard, J.R. and Scattini, W.J. (1996). FEEDMAN - A feed-to-dollar beef management package. Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane, Queensland. QI96091.

Rickert, K.G. (1998). Experiences with FEEDMAN, a decision support package for beef cattle producers in south eastern Queensland. Proceedings of International Symposium on 'Applications of modelling as an innovative technology in the agri-food-chain', 29 November - 2 December 1998, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Rickert, K.G. and Thompson, P.J.M.(1994). Deficiencies in beef production systems in the endowed zone of Queensland. Milestone Report. Australian Meat Research Corporation, Sydney.


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