It has been a period of change and development for Emily Read in recent years, as she works to make her mark within the agricultural industry. 

Mrs Read hails from Coonabarabran, located in the divide between the Central West and Northwest Slopes regions of New South Wales, and alongside her husband Joe and her parents Ambrose and Lisa Doolan, is part of a multifaceted family business. 

Since her return home to the family business in 2018 after several years building herself in a different career avenue, Mrs Read has been immersed in the operations running Isla Angus and a mixed cropping and commercial cattle operation, comprised of 1000 Angus breeders. 

“After university I worked as a town planner and tried my hand in a few government roles,” said Mrs Read. “Eventually, I asked my parents if I could return home to work for them and get involved in the family business. I’m so glad they said yes. 

“Whilst I grew up with involvement in our family business it wasn’t until I returned home in 2018 that I began to pursue a career in agriculture and really get excited about the business and what my role could look like. I have now been in the industry for five years officially and am learning something new all the time.” 

The day-to-day operations Mrs Read is involved in are varied across the diverse nature of their established businesses. 

“There are a few arms to our business operations with commercial cattle, Isla Angus and my husband and I starting our own beef enterprise and running Doolan’s Precision Seeding, selling air seeders and tillage machinery. 

“We all pitch in and help out in the different businesses depending on the task at hand. It is busy but it’s what we love to do and fortunately, we all enjoy each other’s company.” 

The family’s herd is 100% Angus, having been involved in the Angus breed for 30 years commercially, and for 20 years in the seedstock portion of their business. 

The commercial side of the operation breeds cattle typically targeted for the feedlot market, with the family selling directly to feedlots or online. The herd also has EU accreditation and participates in MSA grading. 

When asked about the selection of genetics within their Angus herd, Mrs Read prioritises calving ease, docility and good carcase quality. 

“When selecting bulls, we do look at Estimated Breeding Values and if we’re happy with the figures we’ll go on to ensure good confirmation and sound structure. When integrating bulls into the herd we confirm good working condition and a vet check to guarantee they are up to the job.” 

When it comes to their female herd, the family cull with a focus on docility and the female’s ability to get calves on the ground. 

“Temperament and fertility are important traits in our females. Structure and feet are also important considerations,” said Mrs Read. 

“Fertility is a very important part of our production; we focus on moderate birth weights and modest mature cow weights to maintain reliable fertility and calving ease. Success for us is healthy calves on the ground that can then go on reach their full potential.” 

This year, the Doolan/Read’s joined approximately 1000 cows. The joining period for the herd is typically 6–8-weeks, however due to the fact that the operation is still recovering from a run of tough years due to drought conditions, the family currently works with an 8-10 week joining period. 

Within their herd operations, Mrs Read and her family utilise artificial insemination and embryo transfer programs, citing that they are an excellent way to accelerate genetic improvement in both their commercial and stud cattle. 

Managing their operations with a low stress management philosophy and ensuring a high level of care for their stock, when it comes to joining time the Doolan/Read’s like to keep their cows on a rising plane of nutrition and in a good weight range. They also take advantage of mineral supplementation throughout the joining process, which they monitor throughout. 

The herd is then pregnancy-testing at weaning time to gauge joining rates. 

When asked about the retention rates of heifers in the herd, Mrs Read said, “This year we have kept more heifers than we usually would, with the number of heifers retained varying depending on the season and management of older cows. About 1000 cows were joined this year and we have retained 30% for in herd use.” 

Mrs Read highlights that her family’s driving objective for their businesses, particularly their seedstock enterprise, is the want to breed quality Angus cattle that perform for the industry. 

“Our driving objective is an interest in genetics and a desire to continue refining our herd with traits we desire, which is what began Isla Angus. Our objective is to have cattle that continue to perform and are known for quality.” 

When looking to the future of their business, Mrs Read looks to continue to grow the quality of the cattle they are producing. 

“We hope to be producing 50-60 high quality bulls each year, continuing to improve our genetics and achieving recognition for quality bulls and commercial cattle.” 

Emily takes on GenAngus 

Mrs Read was selected as part of the 2022 GenAngus Future Leaders Program, which saw her congregate in Adelaide with her fellow participants when the event was hosted in June. 

“I applied for GenAngus after my Mum showed me the program, it looked like an exciting opportunity to learn and a chance for me to get out of my comfort zone,” said Mrs Read. 

“Where else will you get the best industry leaders in agriculture together and have the opportunity to talk with them and ask them questions?” 

When asked how the three-day intensive program affected her and her personal development, Mrs Read said, “I learnt a lot about myself and how I operate. Professionally and personally, I gained so much insight into my behavioral styles and motivators. I learnt skills that have been valuable for improving communication and conflict resolution.” 

Mrs Read also highlighted the company of the other participants at GenAngus, and how she was impacted through spending a number of days with other up and comers in the agricultural industry. 

“The tight knit group was such a privilege to be a part of and foster open discussions. After meeting the other participants of GenAngus it gives me a lot of excitement, as the future looks bright for the Angus breed. 

“I’m excited to see how technology will continue to influence our lives and create transparency and traceability.” 

When it comes to implementing what she learnt at the GenAngus Future Leaders Program, Mrs Read had some clear take homes for her family business, with the learning experiences beginning from the opening presentation of the event. 

“It was a very well thought out program having Pete Clark (of 21 Whispers) teach us the value of mindset on day one and set the intention to form one new habit to take home from each presentation. 

“There were certainly valuable take homes from each presentation, I left with a full notepad. There is the importance of building a brand and marketing. 

“I learnt some great tips that we are starting to put into practice to create awareness of Isla Angus, who we are and our objectives. We all have an interesting story and people want to hear from the individuals behind the operations.” 

“I learnt some valuable tips to develop brand recognition and how to build a following organically and authentically.” 

Mrs Read also encourages other young members of the beef industry to apply for the program. 

“You will be inspired and go home with fresh ideas and a big to do list!” 

By Cheyne Twist, Senior Marketing & Communications Officer