Zanda McDonald 2022 recipient Charlie Perry was determined award co-sponsor Te Mania Angus was on his wish-list for the Australasian agricultural tour that is part of his prize.
Because he was not going to miss the chance to pick the brains of the business, which he says he has “watched as it has pioneered change after change in how the beef industry goes about its business”.
One of the newest, but already amongst agriculture’s most prestigious, awards, the ‘Zanda’ identifies the next generation of movers and shakers – and entries are only open to people aged 21 to 35 and working in agribusiness.
Charlie runs Trent Bridge Wagyu at Guyra on the NSW Northern Tablelands – that’s as many as 700 F1 breeders and around 200 fullblood bulls sold privately.
The third generation at the helm of 8000 acres, spread across four properties between Guyra and Ebor, he took over management in 2016 and just three years later was fighting to survive the grip of the region’s worst drought – ever.
He’s also president of the Australian Wagyu Association. And a regular presenter at industry events. Six months ago he and wife Georgia welcomed their arrival of their first child – daughter Isabelle.
So, with not much going on in his life right now, Charlie has decided to use all that spare time of his to launch the family’s first annual on-property bull sale for later this year.
Which is one of the reasons he insisted on visiting Te Mania Angus, along with the other genetic enterprises on his list.
“We turned to Wagyu in 2004 – a great decision by my parents Jen and Wal – and have been building the business ever since. The 2019 drought presented a significant challenge, however, like many seed stock businesses, we were determined to maintain our core herd” Charlie recalls.
“Selling bulls privately has worked historically, however, we have reached a point where many of our clients want more autonomy of the bulls they select, which is difficult to manage in an allocation system – so the best way to solve this is through a sale” he says.
“We are targeting spring this year, with 150 fullblood bulls – and that’s why I was so keen to meet Tom Gubbins and the team at Te Mania Angus.
“Te Mania Angus, indeed all four genetic operations I visited, blew me away with the generosity of the time they made available and their willingness to share – their collaboration, their willingness to progress the industry and making their genetic programs available to anyone interested is amazing.”
Although Charlie says he is a “little jealous” of the Angus industry and its immediate access to an almost unlimited selection of outcrosses, while the Wagyu industry still has to work within the constraints of the Japanese not releasing any new genetics since the early 1990s.
He agrees his tour of the studs almost became a case of not knowing what he didn’t know.
“Te Mania Angus was unbelievable, they are doing some very clever things there – and there’s a reason why its genetics are so dominant in Breedplan/TransTasman Angus Cattle Evaluation figures,” Charlie adds.
“Innovations such as Team Te Mania, sister farms – they bring incredible sophistication to the business and I was happy to soak it up as much as I could,” he says.
“Te Mania Angus runs a very analytical genetic program but has not discounted the importance of structure and type.
“There is no question what I learnt from Tom Gubbins, and the families running the other enterprises I spent time with, will influence how we go run our business – I got hundreds of ideas, big and small, and the whole tour was such an amazing experience. You don’t normally get so much relevant information in such a short time.”
The Zanda McDonald Award is now in its 9th year of assisting young agriculturalists across Australia and New Zealand to help take their careers to the next level. Zanda (Alexander) McDonald was a prominent identity in the Australian beef and livestock industry, and this award was established in his honour.
To find out more visit zandamcdonaldaward.com
Pictured above from Left: Charlie Perry (2022 Winner), Charlie de Fegely (mentor), Jack Raharuhi (2020 winner), Richard Rains (Chair), Tom Gubbins (Te Mania Angus) and Rhys Roberts (2021 winner).