Evaluating carbon offset options for beef production systems in central Queensland

Whole farm systems analysis from the WFSAM project

Beef cattle businesses in northern Australia can participate in the Emissions Reduction Fund by either of two methodologies: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by feeding nitrates to beef cattle or Beef cattle herd management. The former provides credits for emissions reductions achieved by substituting nitrate for urea in lick blocks, while the latter is based on emissions reductions achieved through efficiency gains, where emissions are reduced through dietary or management interventions while beef production is maintained or increased.

This study was conducted to compare the required Australian carbon credit units (ACCU) or supplement prices for a 2% return on capital when feeding a low or high supplement concentration to breeding stock of either urea, three different forms of nitrate, or cottonseed meal, to fasten steer entry to a feedlot, in a typical breeder herd on the coastal speargrass land types in central Queensland.

Increasing the weight of steers at a set turnoff month by feeding cottonseed meal was found to be the most cost-effective option, with or without including the offset income. The required ACCU prices for a 2% return on capital were an order of magnitude higher than indicative carbon prices in 2015 for the three forms of nitrate. The likely costs of participating in Emissions Reduction Fund projects would reduce the return on capital for all mitigation options.

Key researchers


Cottle D, Eckard R, Bray S, Sullivan M (2016). An evaluation of carbon offset supplementation options for beef production systems on coastal speargrass in central Queensland, Australia. Animal Production Science, 56, 385–392, http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AN15446.

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