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Weebollabolla Field Day the perfect lead-in to historic 50th annual bull sale

AN industry brimming with opportunity that is maximising returns and capitalising on collaborations was the focus of Moree’s recent Weebollabolla Field Day.

Jen Jeffreys of Weebollabolla Shorthorns organised the event, and says the format was the perfect opportunity for producers to network and gain valuable industry insights.

“It’s a bit of a golden era of beef at the moment and we really wanted to bring industry heads together to see how we can all make gains and stay at the top of the game,” Ms Jeffries said.

Held as a pre-cursor to Weebollabolla’s historic 50th On-Farm Bull Sale this September, the impressive line-up of speakers included Sarah Strachan of MLA, Andrew McDonald of NH Foods, Sam Newsome of Newsome Ag and Lambpro’s Tom Bull.

Opening the event with a soon-to-be released Weebollabolla promotional video, Ms Jeffreys engaged the attendees outlining Weebollabolla’s current opportunities for clients in terms of markets and genetics, and its relevance to each speaker’s presentation.

“It’s a big year for Weebollabolla as we celebrate our 50th on-farm bull sale and a recent collaboration with NH Foods, we wanted to share this experience with other producers,” Mrs Jeffreys said.

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Field day speakers included Tom Bull (Lambpro), Jen Jeffreys (Weebollabolla), Sarah Strachan (MLA) and Sam Newsome (Newsome Ag). (Image: Georgina Poole).

“The Shorthorn market is re-positioning in the industry and there are currently a number of opportunities in red meat production that can be further explored.”

NH Foods’ export sales manager Andrew McDonald has been collaborating with Weebollabolla, providing branded beef into the Chinese market.

“We began exporting Australian Shorthorn branded beef into China about five months ago and it’s had a very positive reception in China,” Mr McDonald said.

“While traditionally branded beef products such as Angus and Wagyu have always been popular in the marketplace, we feel Australian Shorthorn will provide a point of difference that will prove popular with consumers.”

He said the field day provided a rare opportunity to incorporate the whole supply chain, from farm consultants to producers, processors and exporters.

“To be able to talk about what is achievable from a production side and a supply side, everyone goes home a little wiser,’ he said.

In light of the recent NH Foods branding venture, MLA’s Sarah Strachan discussed the tools available at a producer level to help interpret carcass quality feedback.

Ms Strachan used a consignment processed on July 20 out of Weebollabolla Feedlot to give an actual example in the real world.

“Weebollabolla has always had a focus on marbling and weight for age and will continue to strive for improvement to benefit the brand,” she said.

“Compliance with the brand and specifications can be controlled by producers, and by taking this feedback on board they’re putting profits directly into their pockets.

“The new myMSA benchmarking program was able to demonstrate that the entire lot of Weebollabolla cattle recently processed by NH Foods performed in the top 50 per cent for grain fed beef eating quality when compared to the rest of the country and the same region in NSW.

“This new tool allows for more meaningful feedback, particularly considering non-compliance can equate to a potential cost of $400 – $500 per head.”

With attendees impressed by the carcass data results, she felt the information provided practical relevance to the day.

Tom Bull of Lambpro spoke on the need to accurately identify profit.

“Producers need to understand what facilitates profitability in genetics and what’s driving market demands, then they can actively select that in their genetics programs,” Mr Bull said.

“A breeding program that can identify and understand these key factors will always be at the forefront of the game.”

With a focus on the top 20 per cent of producers, Sam Newsome of Newsome Ag also discussed imperative drivers of profits in a beef operation.

“Kilos of beef per hectare is the key to income so I look at where to focus expenditure in terms of growing feed to convert into beef,” Mr Newsome said.

“I also explore how producers should be resourcing their business using labour and plant and how their overheads and debt servicing reflect the scale of their business.

“The variations in farm performance can be vast – a three per cent return compared to a six per cent return on a $10 million dollar asset equates to $300,000.

“That’s $300,000 up for grabs that could cover education or succession, so the opportunity cost of under-performing is quite alarming.”

Mr Newsome congratulated the Munro family on the field day initiative, and said that while anyone can ‘google’ information these days, nothing compared to traditional networking opportunities.

“Field days like this are a great way to get everyone off farm and offset some of the professional isolation farmers can experience,” he said.

“There is a lot to be said for getting everyone together, meeting new people and really digging deeper into some of the issues currently facing the beef industry.”

The Weebollabolla 50th On-Farm Bull Sale will be held Friday, September 22.

Words and Photo: Georgina Poole