With a third generation knocking at the door keen to take over the reins, Hereford breeder Geoff Bush has advice for young people wanting to pursue a future in the beef industry.
“Having a sound basis to run a commercial herd is the start. Be realistic, watch your costs and inputs. It is critical to keep aiming at that commercial market and don’t lose sight of the big picture, it is the only way to remain sustainable,” Geoff said.
He and his wife Heather run twin studs, Kirraweena and Glenholme, at Cootamundra, in southern NSW, and their children Sam, Jack and Cassie, are now actively involved.
The couple have been strong advocates of the Hereford youth movement and mentors to many potential young breeders over the decades at Sydney Royal, regional shows, heifer shows and youth camps.
The family joins 160 cows across the two studs, finishes around 50 steers a year off grass and sells 30 unjoined heifers to commercial producers.
“We aim to breed a steer suitable for all markets and that’s the beauty of the Hereford, whether it is export, domestic or feedlot,” Geoff said.
“At the moment, we are turning off 600-750kg milk and two tooth steers through the prime market.”
Geoff, along with regional beef producers, has welcomed the substantial investment by Australian Meat Group in the multi-species Cootamundra plant capable of processing cattle, sheep, lambs and goats.
Australian Meat Group purchased the old Manildra Group abattoir at Cootamundra and after five years of refurbishment will be sourcing livestock from southern states to supply frozen and chilled beef and lamb export markets including the US, Canada, Japan and Korea.
Accommodation has been established to cater for 150 international workers.
The internal fit out included a cold store with a capacity of 7500 pallets, 4500 pallets of frozen product and 2700 pallets of fresh product. The beef chiller capacity is of over 1000 head and a sorting chiller of 350 head. New stockyards can hold 1000 head under cover.
AMG is keen to procure livestock from a wide area of NSW and northern Victoria for the Cootamundra plant.
Geoff is looking forward to selling Hereford steers over the hooks at the AMG plant, with the investment creating much anticipation and boosting confidence among local cattle producers.
The Kirraweena/Glenholme bulls traditionally sell into all regions across NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.
Geoff said Herefords perform well in all conditions including the harsher cold country southern areas and out to the drier Riverina and western areas.
“The Hereford is known for its toughness and many of those properties don’t have the country or resources to take their steers through. They aim to breed a female that will survive in the toughest conditions and produce a saleable calf able to be fattened for domestic, export or feedlot markets.”