THE willingness of all sectors of Australia's beef supply chain to change and adapt is enormous and it is something to be proud of but never complacent about.
That was just one of the many and varied thoughts expressed during an entertaining panel discussion on beef supply chain dynamics run at the lot feeding industry's Smart Beef 2019 conference in Dalby.
Tom Maguire, value chain general manager for Teys Australia, said agriculture's reputation for being set in its ways was 'rubbish'.
"The acceptance of people to put down what they are doing one day and try something completely new is remarkable," he said.
Brett Campbell, livestock manager at Mort & Co, agreed. The degree of progressiveness among producers, backgrounders and growers supplying feedlot cattle was strong, he said.
"All are picking up changes that can be made to help in terms of weight gain, marbling, performance," he said.
"The key is communication between producer and feedlotter - knowing what your feedlotter is chasing," he said.
Mr Maguire said that unlike supply chains with competitive animal proteins "we don't have to own all the cattle, we just have to be smarter about how we transfer information up and down the supply chain."
He has been with Teys for 14 years and said the business he first joined was unrecognisable today.
While brands had been a major development, the technological innovations coming down the pipeline were also phenomenal.
"We are now following the lamb industry and automating beef cutting, with a big project at Rockhampton," Mr Maguire said.
"It will take five to seven years and it's not about trying to save labour so much as improving yield and return.
"If we don't grow revenue, our high comparative costs will get us into trouble.
"We also have another project at Wagga Wagga where we are tackling the energy challenge head-on and taking the plant off the grid. Fourteen years ago that would have seemed crazy."
Mr Maguire said a critical issue for meat processing was the need to become far more exact in how everything was measured.
"All the measurements taken at the moment that go into a grading result are done by humans. We need to utilise technology to become more precise," he said.
By the end of the year, Teys expects to be using x-ray cameras at its Wagga and Beenleigh facilities.
"Right now abattoirs are big averaging factories. They can only manage a batch of cattle. We are working on different technologies to allow us to give individual results - that will transform how meat processing works," Mr Maguire said.