It was a meeting between a cutting-edge, fully integrated Wagyu enterprise and Wellington Lodge and Poltalloch Station, founded almost 200 years ago and steeped in rural history.
It was the word from one of Australia’s leading animal geneticists and the latest from one of the architects of MLA’s Pasture Paramedic technical manuals to boost pasture production.
It had to be Future Genetics, the annual Team Te Mania workshop, staged this year in Adelaide from Monday to Wednesday last week.
And Team Te Mania director Hamish McFarlane has rated it as one of the best yet held.
Hamish says the member feedback was encouraging and positive, starting when the group arrived at Thomas Foods International’s new state-of-the-art robotic abattoir for an exclusive guided tour, and right up to the culmination of the Workshop’s Q&A panel of guest speakers on Wednesday afternoon.
He says he felt everyone was engaged for all three days and adds the “powerful messages” from the impressive suite of speakers “left everyone with a lot of new information and a lot to think about”.
“I was really pleased, even after the workshop was officially finished, to see members sitting down with some of the speakers for further information – and it was fantastic our guests were happy to share their time,” Hamish added.
“TFI was very generous with its time, showing us right through its new processing operation, which when fully operational will provide hundreds of jobs, the very latest in robotics and have a daily throughput of 1200 cattle,” Hamish says.
“The visits to Richard and Emma McFarlane’s Wellington Lodge (founded 1845) and Keith and Kirsty’s Poltalloch Station (1876) were a window on our industry’s foundation years, with their amazing settings and homesteads.
“Although near neighbours, the two members also provided a fascinating study of two very different production programs both achieving outstanding results for their owners,” he says.
“And even our Tuesday dinner had an educational course, when Adelaide Oval executive chef Philip Pope gave an entertaining insight of the complexity of feeding a large slice of 50,000 people with everything from chips in the grandstands to five-star dining in the corporate suites.”
However, Hamish says the serious enlightenment was saved for the last day, starting with MLA’s Australia/North America category and market insights manager Amy Chow’s rundown of the global premium beef opportunities for our producers.
He says she highlighted the drivers of the American market in particular, and the impact the current economic environment there will have on demand for our products.
“Cam Nicholson, from Nicon Rural Services, delivered an enthusiastic presentation of the MLA Pasture Paramedic Tool, explaining how to analyse pasture in every geographic and climatic zone of Australia. In partnership with Southern Farming Systems and MLA, Cam’s work is a landmark achievement and the tools he and the team have developed for use on individual properties is simplicity itself but provides such a rapid and accurate assessment of pasture conditions in just two steps,” Hamish explained.
“That Cam and his wife Fiona Conroy are also Team members is just an incredible bonus for us all because they have been contributors in so many ways since joining.”
Hamish says Rob Banks, the recently retired director of the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit, and now a member of the Te Mania Angus genetics committee, was spot on with his comments on how breeding values for things such as methane emissions could be so quickly implemented.
“Rob is as evolutionary and revolutionary as the impressive work he has been doing for decades, and his comparative work in fields such as oysters, bees and trees and the genetic analogies was remarkable – and his explanations clear and concise as always,” Hamish added.
“He has been an asset to agriculture and we know he will be an incredible addition to our own genetic program and its flow-on to the Team Te Mania members,” he says.
Mayura Station’s Scott de Bruin raised eyebrows when he explained his 12,000 head fullblood Wagyu herd does not put him in the cattle business.
Instead, Scott says he is in the luxury meat business, and unlike every other producer in the room, he says his entire business starts with the consumer and works its way back to the genetics to ensure the meat he does produce is exactly what the market wants.
“And at the luxury end of the business it wants consistency above all else,” Scott says. “Which we have achieved through an intensive data capture program from birth to chiller assessment, run in parallel with our own progeny testing and the very, very selective inclusion of outcross genetic in a line-breeding operation.”
Hamish says it was one of the most eye-opening presentations he has seen and challenged perceptions.
“The presentations ended with Tom Gubbins giving an update on Te Mania Angus itself, and the key influencing factors with the work currently being done there before he compered the Q&A session, which involved all speakers.”