Habbies Howe, Highlands near Seymour, joined Team Te Mania in 2001 with a seriously basic business model according to owners Scott and Julia McKay.
It was, they said, 80 per cent about “what goes down the throats of our cattle” and 20 per cent about cutting edge, next generation genetics that would refine their finished product into something very special.
That strategy is still there, but it now underpins a remarkable branded beef marketing enterprise that sees 550 Habbies Howe Beef carcasses a year go direct to Melbourne (mostly) based butchers.
Scott says the family is running 1000 Angus cows and heifers producing weaners at Habbies Howe.
“Soon after we joined the Team in 2001, I remember saying our 80/20 program would remain, with 20 per cent genetics to which I added: ‘But by gee, you (have to be right) with the genetics’,” he laughed.
“Well fortunately our decision to join Team Te Mania would prove our best genetic decision – we now annually join 300 heifers to AI with the very latest Te Mania Angus genetics and cover the rest of the herd (and use as backups on the AIs) with our 18 Team bulls.”
Incredibly, Scott says the direct selling to butchers started with just one carcase a month to a restaurant, and “sort of grew from there”.
And COVID was no problem, he says, with business growing, not shrinking, as more and more people shopped at butchers and did all their meals from home instead of a lot of eating out – and it isn’t slowing down.
“But we don’t do restaurants anymore,” Scott said. “It’s all butchers, and we handle every step of the program up to delivery at the shop”.
“We process them through Hardwicks and have a grid of 450kg to 550kg and obviously, the better they marble the better the response from consumers.
“And boosting our marbling was one of the big ticks for Team Te Mania when we joined. We get great feedback from our customers and that’s where genetics play their incredibly important part.”
The other big change at Habbies Howe headquarters is the ownership. The McKays have been joined by David Webb as a partner. Scott says David’s connection with the property stretches back to his grandfather, a long-time manager there.
“We offered David a role on staff but he said that wasn’t what he was looking for so I said ‘right, we’d better make you a partner then’ and it has worked very well for the past five years,” Scott says.
Patties Meat Pie advertisement, filmed at Habbies Howe
Doing the ordinary, extraordinarily at Habbies Howe, by Sheena Coffey, Stock & Land, 5 January 2016
- Team Te Mania member since 2001
- EU Accredited
- Johne’s Status – Beef Only
- Calving period: Autumn and Spring