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Herefords Australia champions sustainable beef breeding

Voluntary contributions of 35,000 carcase records from MSA grading data from Hereford producers situated in Central Queensland to Tasmania have been received to date. Picture supplied
Voluntary contributions of 35,000 carcase records from MSA grading data from Hereford producers situated in Central Queensland to Tasmania have been received to date. Picture supplied

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Connecting productivity driven sustainability outcomes throughout the whole supply chain using collaboration was a key focus at the Herefords Australia Breed Forum.

Held at Wodonga on May 14, the Breed Forum was opened by immediate past Herefords Australia CEO Michael Crowley, who told delegates Herefords are the superior choice for fertility, weight for age, feed efficiency, carcase quality, longevity and docility.

"All of those add value to producer's businesses and they complement nearly every other breed in the country in crossbreeding programs," Mr Crowley said.

"Our industry still pays us on averages, there is a lot of value placed on livestock based on coat colour and yet there is still so much variation in value and outcome," he said.

"We have seen a proliferation of beef brands and brand equity is becoming a driver of value as well - there are really three components driving value and how we connect with those brands and brand specifications in addition to delivering better quality and yield will ultimately determine how we are paid in the future."

Past Herefords Australia CEO, Michael Crowley said Herefords are heavy cattle at young skeletal maturity which is a big driver of the MSA index. Picture supplied
Past Herefords Australia CEO, Michael Crowley said Herefords are heavy cattle at young skeletal maturity which is a big driver of the MSA index. Picture supplied

Mr Crowley said Herefords Australia had continued research and development work collecting carcase data for evaluation in Breedplan.

He said voluntary contributions of 35,000 carcase records from MSA grading data from Central Queensland to Tasmania have been received.

"It shows the breed is doing a really good job and sitting in the top 25 to 30 per cent of all carcases graded nationally on the MSA Index.

"It also shows, as in every breed, there is natural variation. What drives the MSA Index is carcase weight and ossification. What stands out here is we have heavy cattle at young skeletal maturity which is a big driver of the MSA index.

"Our marbling outcomes were spread out basically from nothing through to the highest marble score of six or 860 on the MSA scale from a grass-fed animal from Tasmania - that's up there with 500-day grain fed Wagyu. We can do it and its about how we identify those animals earlier and produce more of them.

"We have a whole range of partners we have been working with throughout the course of the year that will help us with more precision in the production system, how we make money out of sustainability, driving productivity, building soil carbon, how we use technology to obtain better information in real time, the innovations we can use as the seedstock sector to drive the commercial industry, what we can learn from our international partners, and how we work with the supply chain."

Equipping members with tools to increase productivity and profitability are among the aims of Herefords Australia chairman Marc Greening. Picture supplied
Equipping members with tools to increase productivity and profitability are among the aims of Herefords Australia chairman Marc Greening. Picture supplied

Fostering domestic and international collaboration, and equipping members with tools to increase productivity and profitability are among the aims of incoming Herefords Australia chairman Marc Greening.

Mr Greening is principal of the southern New South Wales-based Injemira Beef Genetics, one of the nation's leading Hereford seedstock and commercial operations and has served on the Herefords Australia board as a director and deputy chairman for four years.

Mr Greening said Herefords Australia was positioning itself long term to assist members, pointing to the Breed Forum as an educational tool for commercial and seedstock producers.

He said Herefords Australia was collaborating with domestic commercial partners and internationally with the American Hereford Association.

Herefords Australia hosted the American Hereford Association executive vice president Jack Ward and chief operating officer Shane Bedwell at Beef Australia 2024 and at the 2024 Herefords Australia National Show and Sale.

"The AHA aligns with what we are achieving in Australia in terms of sustainability, the ability to prove that Herefords are a maternal source and position Herefords as the number one choice for crossbreeding with Bos indicus cattle," Mr Greening said.

"We can collaborate on a range of things in the future from performance recording and data sharing for projects, evaluating their marketing and messaging strategies, right down to their youth programs and potentially getting Australian youth involved in those American programs.

"Jack and Shane spent two weeks in Australia, and they have been well received from Rockhampton all the way down to Wodonga. I can only see that relationship growing stronger for the benefit of Herefords Australia."

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