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The Western Australian biofuels industry is in its infancy. There is currently only one small commercial biodiesel manufacturer in the State but there have been several announcements of new biofuel projects in 2006 that will be commercialised by 2010. The projected growth of a new biofuels industry in Western Australia (WA), will create greater competition with other industries that rely on grain as an input in their enterprises. Intensive livestock industries such as beef cattle lot feeding, pig rearing, fattening lambs, growing poultry for meat and eggs and feeding dairy cows depend on a consistent supply of high quality whole or compound grain products and biofuels will create additional competition for these inputs. WA is the largest grain producer and most reliable and consistent marketer of grain in Australia. These conditions have provided a competitive advantage for Western Australian grain growers and livestock producers alike to enjoy continued growth in their respective businesses. This report identifies the opportunities and impacts of an emerging biofuels industry on the livestock feeding sectors in the State. These include: • WA produces 12.2 million tonnes of total grains per annum based on a five year average which represents 32 per cent of national grain production. • In WA, there is a large grain surplus particularly wheat, which allows opportunities such as the expansion of a biofuels industry. However the availability of high energy grains is currently restricted and a new industry such as biofuels will increase competition with the livestock industry to purchase this type of grain. • Western Australia’s livestock industry is small compared to other States in Australia. In total, all livestock sectors combined in WA utilise 0.6 million tonnes of feed grain for both energy and protein inputs in rations compared to 7.48 million tonnes in the Eastern States; Victoria (2.25 million tonnes), New South Wales (2.68 million tonnes) and Queensland (2.55 million tonnes) (Table 10). • The demand from a potential ethanol industry would create significant competition for low quality wheat on the domestic market in the absence of industrial wheat. • Western Australia’s current potential ethanol projects could deliver 740 million litres of ethanol per annum utilising 2 million tonnes of wheat. • This volume of ethanol would produce 587 000 tonnes of DDG potentially available for livestock compared to current potential inclusion in rations of 57 000 tonnes. This would mean that there would be some 525 000 tonnes surplus of DDG surplus to requirements for livestock. • Western Australia’s biodiesel projects are currently planned at approximately 200 million litres of biodiesel per annum. • If all of the canola crop was used for biodiesel, there would be over 275 000 tonnes of canola meal surplus to domestic livestock requirements. • It is unlikely that all the projected biodiesel plants will go ahead in WA due to the shortage of feedstocks, unless the biodiesel manufacturers could rely on lower priced imported palm oil.
Therefore WA has a strong surplus of food quality wheat and some capacity to produce ethanol from lower quality wheat although the availability varies each year. This situation would improve significantly if new industrial wheats were bred and commercially available. There is not sufficient capacity to supply the State’s total demand for biodiesel from canola and other local feedstocks such as tallow and used cooking oil which highlights the current need for an industrial oilseed.
In summary, there will be a significant surplus of co-products from the biofuels industry which will be readily and cheaply available for livestock feed. The supply of protein from dry distillers grains (DDG) will mainly benefit the ruminant livestock industry, because the variability of the amino acid profile makes it unsuitable currently as a feed source for monogastrics. However, researchers in the United States have started trialling DDG in monogastric diets, which if successful, could increase the market for DDG in WA in the future. There could also be a large surplus of canola meal which would also be a cheap protein source for the livestock industry in WA however there are limitations to inclusion rates in rations.
Number of Pages
Biotechnology | Meat Science | Sheep and Goat Science
Burggraaf, W, and Wilkins, A. (2008), The impact of biofuel production on the Western Australian livestock industry. Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, Perth. Bulletin 4731.