Hailing from the central-western plains of New South Wales, Cara Fagan has been involved in the beef industry for as long as she can remember. Today, Miss Fagan runs a commercial Angus herd based at Coonamble, NSW, alongside her mother, Suzie.
Since finishing school, Miss Fagan has been involved in the breeding programs, bull selection and all aspects of animal husbandry and management within the family’s commercial breeding operation, having completed an Agribusiness degree from Marcus Oldham in 2020.
Comprising of 600 females, Miss Fagan’s current business model focuses on turning off steers, targeting the feeder market.
When it comes to their operation and the selection of an Angus influence, the Fagan’s have been running commercial Angus cattle since 1963, when the herd was started by Miss Fagan’s grandfather Brian. Following her father, Suzie Fagan has since managed and grown the herd alongside Cara.
Speaking on the benefits of the Angus breed, Miss Fagan said, “They’re hard to go past. Between the adaptability, fertility and marketability, you have a very well rounded and consistent product.”
“I believe the breed will continue to grow, and in particular become more present in northern Australia. Their performance is consistently impressive, and I believe this speaks for itself.”
With the key drivers of success of their herd being pregnancy and weaning percentage, much of the Fagan’s trait selection falls to maternal and carcase traits.
“We take all traits into account, but the foundation ones we focus on are calving ease, a moderate mature cow weight, docility, short days to calving, a high carcase weight, positive rib fat and excellent foot structure,” said Miss Fagan.
“Together, these help us focus on breeding a profitable, tough animal driven by longevity.”
Looking to the short-term outlook of their business, Miss Fagan will incorporate more Artificial Insemination into the operations’ joining program in order to increase comprehensive performance recording.
In the long term, Miss Fagan and her mother endeavour to transition the top 25% of their commercial herd into a small seedstock operation. Furthermore, the grassfed market is an area of interest for the Fagan’s for the future of their business.
“(The long-term goal) is to sell a consistent line of bulls annually – founded on calving ease, docility, high carcase weights and bulls that are adaptable and resilient and produce high-quality grass-fed beef.”
Looking into the future aspirations of the business, the Fagan’s also aim to have an established relationship with a meat processor that provides consistently high-quality grass-fed beef and a team of staff members whose own skills and goals are fostered in a safe and positive work environment.
Miss Fagan was a member of the 2022 cohort of the GenAngus Future Leaders Program, joining 12 fellow up and comers in the beef industry for an intensive three-day workshop covering beef business fundamentals.
Reflecting on her experience taking part in the program, Miss Fagan had some notable take homes from several the presentations made during the workshop.
“’The Outlook for Australian Beef’ was really good to zoom out and see how we fit into a global food system, and it was also very interesting to see the projections for the American market during drought and how this will impact prices going into 2023,” said Miss Fagan of the presentation made by Simon Quilty of Global Agritrends.
“Another standout was ‘The Secret to Success’ with Angus Street. I found this particularly beneficial, as it’s very important to recognise the power of soft skills and the positive impact they have on your business.”
“Angus spoke a lot about consistency is greater than intensity, which is key to a positive trajectory.”
“The presentation ‘Implementing Change’ with Simon Vogt was a standout as I enjoyed the practical nature of this session as it tied everything together so well, from people to production. I particularly enjoyed delving down into the production costs for a kilo of dry matter and the niche nature of this.”
Miss Fagan believes that her time as part of the GenAngus Future Leaders Program was of great benefit to her professional and personal development and encourages those with a passion for the industry to apply.
“It was an incredible three and a half days, and I am so grateful for the speakers, the conversations we had, and the networks I developed.”
“I would highly encourage anyone who is keen on enhancing their skills to apply to the program.”
By Cheyne Twist, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer