Joining delegates at the 2017 #GrowAngus National Conference were two young Angus Youth Members, Staci Jennings from Craigmore in South Australia and Kaiti McGregor from Bell in Queensland.
Both Staci and Kaiti were awarded an Angus Foundation National Angus Conference Scholarship earlier in the year, giving them the opportunity to attend the events associated with the conference including the pre-conference tour, welcome cocktail evening, gala dinner and the conference itself.
The #GrowAngus conference gave both recipients the prospect to broaden their horizons and expand their knowledge in the technologies available to beef breeders and the latest developments in marketing, along with a number of other topics.
Here are their reports:
The National Angus Conference was held in Ballarat this year and as a recipient of one of the scholarships I was able to attend the 2 day conference. I would just like to thank the Angus Society for this opportunity as it has provided me with relevant information about the breed and where it is headed. I believe that I can use this information at home and at the World Angus Forum, that is held in Scotland this month.
Australian Angus beef has multiple values on a national and global scale, for a small country with a national herd sitting at a lowly 29.3 million we contribute and greatly impact the beef market on a global scale. Australian producers are able to meet the market criteria and the consumer demands through the use of EBV’s, feed requirements and adoption to the various environments that one has to endure in Australia. We provide high end quality beef to the live and beef export market, top quality genetics and traits in the stud programs and overall above average consistency in beef proceed through our feedlots. I really enjoyed the whole conference although the first day was a stand out, Dan Moser flew over from America to speak about the genetic improvement technologies that they are currently using to improve American Angus EBV’s and numbers.
The technologies include improved data collection and accuracy and increasing the amount of animals being tested. One thing that I learnt from Dan’s talk was that he mentioned that Angus Australia’s data based and herd record book is immaculate, the numbers recorded provide vital and relevant information that are used on a daily basis. The American Angus society can only hope to further improve their technologies to create a data base much the same as the Australian one so that numbers, scales and EBV’s can cross over and cattle from both countries can be measured and compared against each other using the similar formats to produce the most accurate numbers for that animal.
The talk from MLA and Tey’s Australia was very insightful in that all the information was generally targeted to the Australian beef market. I gained a perspective on how little beef we eat compared to how much is exported, what our target market is both nationally and globally and where the meat market is heading in the sense that the national herd is slowly getting smaller and the demand for beef is increasing; produces cannot keep up with demand however, abattoir’s can get enough work because there isn’t enough cattle around.
I have taken a lot away from this experience, in particular the history of selling lifestock and how the sale yards have revolutionised animal health, and well-being in terms of low stress interactions with people in and around the yards. How to improve an animals health to improve and maintain weight gain while travelling, being in stressful situations and different environments to usual. The most interesting talk of the conference I found was about the future of Angus genetics in Northern beef production, it is showcasing how this European breed is very versatile in production, adoption to climate and the environment and finally how each time the beef is meeting the market specifications for both northern and traditionally southern buyers, producers and consumers. The conference was a great learning tool, where I gained more experience and knowledge about the current market and stature of the breed, I have created new networks around the country. Overall I have learnt more about the breed that I love and where the future of Australian Angus is headed.
This year I was lucky enough to be awarded one of the Scholarships to attend the #GrowAngus National Conference organised by Angus Australia which was held in Ballarat from the 18-19th May. The scholarship also included the opportunity to attend the Pre-conference tour, welcome cocktail evening and Gala dinner.
Day 1: Pre-conference tour!
The pre-conference tour consisted of two parts. The first was a tour to a local Angus stud; Murdeduke Angus who is also a mixed farming facility with cropping, sheep and also a smallholding of sows co-owned by Pastoral Pork. It was incredible to experience such a diverse farming operation run by people who were genuinely interested in providing as much information as possible and were open to all kinds of questions by the producers, as well as myself who attended. I was quite inspired by the sow management side of the property where they have adopted the “Bred outdoors, raised indoors on straw” approach system for pork production where welfare is definitely of highest importance.
We were also given the opportunity to assess the breeding lines Murdeduke are currently utilising in their breeding programs. Four groups of PTIC heifers representing four sire types they use which range from Aus/local, NZ and bulls from the USA and it was amazing to see how different sire types have a big influence on the frame and structure of the progeny.
The second half of the day involved travelling to Genetics Australia where we were given a series of talks about their beef program and collection regimes before going on a tour of the laboratories and collection centre. On the tour we were showed how semen is assessed and packaged into straws ready for shipping to clients, as well as learning how to properly have your semen verified for export. As part of the tour, we were introduced to some of the new bulls with semen available where we could discuss pedigree and arrange purchase of genetics for our respective breeding programs.
I think I speak for everyone who attended the tour when I say that it was an incredibly informative day that was invaluable to both young and seasoned beef producers.
The evening commencing after the tour consisted of the welcome cocktail evening. This night was a great opportunity to meet a range of different people from all areas of the industry from all over Australia.
Day 2 & 3: #GrowAngus National conference
The national conference was an opportunity to hear from a range of speakers in areas of our choosing provided in sections. I went to the conference keen to hear specifically about the advancements in genomic and reproductive technologies in the beef industry and I wasn’t disappointed! The speakers included Dan Moser, Andrew Byrne, Susan Bibby and Sophie Edwards who provided a detailed insight into the technologies available for producers to aid in breeding decisions and genetic gains. I also opted to attend the marketing session of the conference where we had Garry Edwards, Jon Condon & Ben Simpson speak about how selling livestock has changed with the digital age and how we as producers can utilise social media and technology to market our product successfully to the public as well as prospective buyers during bull and female sales.
The Gala dinner was another awesome opportunity to network with prospective employers, stud farmers and company representatives from the trade stands. I left with many more connections then when I walked in which was great. The auction was a lot of fun with lots of great items up for grabs!
I’d just like to thank Angus Australia and Angus Youth Australia for the opportunity to attend the conference and pre conference tour. It was an invaluable experience and I hope to attend the conference regularly in the future.
Top Image: Angus Foundation #GrowAngus National Conference Scholarship recipients, Kaiti McGregor and Staci Jennings enjoyed the great learning opportunities the conference had to offer them.