As I write this note, seasonal conditions are so mixed with Northern NSW and Queensland remaining very dry, whilst in southern parts of the eastern states, the season is looking very good. A very mixed bag. There are a number of variables out of our control such as a depressed cattle market as a result of supply due to dry conditions, labour issues in processing plants, and a large amount of meat in storage in some of our key international markets impacting demand. As we look ahead, there is new processing capacity coming online – AMG at Cootamundra, Greenhams Tongala plant expansion, the re-opening of TFI’s Murray Bridge and a second shift at JBS Dinmore (which alone will increase production by 1700 hd per day). It may take a while to have an impact on the market however these are positive signs for 2024. With much of those drivers out of our control, it is important we continue to build from our strengths and back up any claims we make with data and evidence in order to position our cattle in the best possible way for the appropriate market segments.
I recently attended the Australian Lot Feeders Association Smart Beef conference where 350 industry people gathered. One key outcome from the event was the launch of the Immune Ready program. Immune Ready is the latest industry wide approach to improving livestock health preparation and performance on feed. It is not tied to any particular animal health company and can be achieved using a range of available products. The use of the logo is approved upon the completion of an animal health declaration where you would add the treatments and health information which will then accompany your NVD with the consignment. With dry seasonal conditions, the feedlot market options are really important. Speaking with a number of feedlot operators over the few days indicates we still have a reputational issue with feedlot health performance. On a positive note, if we are to engage with this program, there are a number of opportunities to market our cattle into a range of feedlots. I recommend taking a look at this program and speaking with your customers about how they would value this declaration when marketing your livestock to feedlots: https://www.immuneready.net.au/
On the data front, my starting point in joining Herefords Australia was to look at the available carcase data from the membership. Through voluntary contributions, we now have 35,000 MSA carcase records from QLD to Tasmania. This data allows us to do a number of things:
- Benchmark the individual data contributions with the rest of the breed
- Benchmark the breed against the national and state MSA grading data benchmarks
- Opens up commercial conversations about the carcase performance of our breed
Most recently, this data has also opened up conversations about how we can link all data in the supply chain back to the breeders. The influence the seedstock sector has on the commercial profitability of the supply chain is directly linked yet very little commercial data is flowing back to the people making those genetic decisions. This is a big opportunity going forward. I recommend the use of this data when you are talking with your commercial bull buying clients, commercial customers and your neighbours (or anyone) who may challenge the carcase credentials of our breed. We have quality to burn.
I have also had a lot of positive feedback on our sustainability strategy and messaging. If we can amplify the messaging when there is an opportunity to do so it will make a big difference – one message, many voices. The key components to leverage are:
- Fertility – more kilograms per cow joined
- Longevity – less bull breakdowns means lower cost per calf produced
- Weight for age and feed efficiency – faster to market reducing cost of production and less emissions
- Superior quality beef – measured by MSA – higher eating quality compliance, higher returns, improved profitability, less food waste.
You will see coming up a major promotion with the Norman Hotel in Brisbane who are showcasing Hereford beef through the month of November. This in a unique opportunity to highlight these benefits and connect with our key messaging.
We are also working closely with our commercial partners so keep an eye out for upcoming webinars where we connect our partners with our membership. This will continue into Beef Australia in Rockhampton 5th to the 11th of May 2024 and into Wodonga National Show & Sale where we will run a forum ahead of the AGM on the 14th of May before the Show and Sale 15th and 16th of May.
Stay well and I hope we can see some changes in the weather and markets in the not too distant future