Long time supporter of the Angus Youth program Peter Collins, of Merridale Angus, was on ground at the NH Foods Angus Youth National Roundup to make his selection for the 2024 Merridale Angus Aspiring Breeder Award.

Following a selection process from a group of exceptional young members of the beef industry, Peter with the help of 2022 winner, Darby McClaren, was very pleased to award Thomas Febey as this year’s recipient, presenting it to him at the Roundup Gala Dinner, held January 13th, 2024.

The Merridale Angus Aspiring Breeder Award is in recognition of an Angus Youth member who does not already have an Angus stud or the financial backing to start their own immediately but has a strong desire to breed their own Angus cattle.

Thomas hails from Sheffield, Tasmania, and was competing in his first – and final being the eldest participant – Roundup event.

When asked about the selection of Thomas for the award, Peter said, “Thoroughly deserved. Champion bloke and a champion young person.

“I have followed him for a little while, but his interview and his ability to teach young people around him was fantastic. Thomas is the oldest contestant here and his ability to actually teach the young people that he had in his team was amazing.

“There also was a photo, that really got him over the line. It was amazing and it was him, sitting with a little boy who was at his first Roundup. They all end up with lots of friends at the Roundup, but at that stage, no friends were with him and here was Thomas, sitting next to him, the oldest and one of the youngest competitors, sitting side by side, having lunch and having a yarn, talking about cows and life, I’d imagine.”

When asked about how he felt receiving this special Roundup award, Thomas said “I didn’t really know what the award was. This obviously is the first Roundup I’ve been to, and it’s something that I’ve been wanting to get into for a long time and finally made the “swim”, I suppose, to come over and have a go.”

“It wasn’t actually until the selectors approached me yesterday and asked if I’d be interested in an interview, which is obviously really humbling.

“Pete’s been someone who I’ve had around for a long time as he has been coming down and judging shows in Tasmania and is a guy that I really consider as quite a major role model and I really enjoy every bit of information he has provided me.  It’s just a real honour.”

So where to now for Thomas? “What this award means for Thomas is that he is now able to come to my place, pick out a heifer and I will help mate the heifer if I have to,” Peter explained.  “This allows him to next year to have either a heifer calf or a bull calf.

“He’s an agent, so he’d be able to sell a bull calf easy. He gets a heifer calf, all of a sudden, he’s got two Angus females and before you know it, he’s got ten. Black’s very powerful at the moment, the Angus breed is so good, and I’m sure he’ll be able to market his cattle really well, and I’ll be there to help him all the way.”

The Collins Family have long championed youth within the agricultural industry, and believe it is important to support them to give them as many opportunities as possible to start their own cattle breeding operation.  With the Merridale Aspiring Breeder Award offered annually at Roundup, Pete reflected on what the contribution of this award means to him and in turn what he hopes to see for the recipients.

“When I come to Roundup, I’ve got no one in mind about who’s going to win this award,” said Peter.

“This is something my family is very passionate about, with my wife Maria and my son Brody and his wife Darcy. We love looking after young people, helping them start and following it through.

“Last year’s winner, Darby McLaren, has now got a little heifer calf, and he’s up and away. All of a sudden, he’s got two females, and he has rung me up and asked me, “who are we mating this animal to?”

“How good is that?” he continued, “With Thomas, he knows where I am, and he knows he’ll come along and pick his own heifer.

“Maria and I will certainly support the award next year, and I hope that Thomas can help me interview the next lot of young people coming through, because that’s what last year’s winner did.

“It’s not just about getting an award, it’s about leadership, interviewing people, talking to people – all those things. It’s the future of our breed, so Maria and I will be there, we’ll support it 100%, and I will help Thomas as much as I can.”

–  Cheyne Twist, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer

– IMAGE: Showcase by Branded Ag