Whyalla Beef, owned by NH Foods Australia, is Australia’s largest feedlot, located 20km northwest of Texas, Queensland in the Goondiwindi region.
Whyalla Feedlot was built in 1988 with the purpose to source quality Australian beef to grain finish and supply beef into Japan.
Today Whyalla Beef stands at 60,000 head capacity with approval to increase by another 15,000 head to reach a full capacity of 75,000 head.
Along with Whyalla Beef, NH Foods grain finishes cattle in 5 other locations around Australia, including Tamworth, Gunnedah and Rowena in NSW, Wangaratta in VIC and Dalby in QLD. The combinations of these locations give NH Foods a significant turnover of cattle annually, clearly cementing NH Foods as one of the largest feeders of cattle in the country and a significant influencer of the local beef market.
As a complement to NH Foods grain feeding business, they also have the capacity to background up to 30,000 steers at any one time that are moving through their system. These steers are backgrounded to a range of 300 – 440kg in various locations across QLD, NSW and VIC.
While recently spending times with Whyalla Beef’s National Livestock Manager, Greg Krarup, it was an opportune time to ask Greg some key questions about supplying steers to Whyalla Beef.
What does the perfect feeder steer look like?
“There are 3 key visual characteristic we are looking for when purchasing cattle. These are young steers that show good maturity and have the structural ability to grow out to and carry 800kg by the time they finish in the feedlot”
What preference do you have when purchasing the right feeder steers?
“Our first preference is black Angus steers” Greg proclaimed. “We also prefer steers that have been bred and raised with good vaccination management, particularly those treated with Bovilis MH + IBR, which we pay an additional incentive to the producer for. Yard weaning is not a requirement for Whyalla Beef, however quiet, well handled and educated steers that are not naïve to handling, people and transport are preferred”
If we drill down to specifically to Angus steers, what % of Whyalla Beef is taken up by Angus steers currently and where would you like that to go moving forward?
“Only a brief time ago, Angus steers made up 62% of the cattle on feed, now that number is 90% of cattle on feed. As a business we are investing heavily in the Angus breed. We always get quality and consistency with Angus cattle and that is important to our customers”
What importance is placed on sourcing those quality Angus cattle?
“The better-quality Angus steers that we can purchase, the higher quality product and superior eating experience we can offer to the end consumer. This is what we focus on. If the consumer is satisfied, then it gives us the ability to build on the volume, and that means more quality Angus steers will be needed”
When you’re sourcing your Angus steers, how important is it to Whyalla Beef to build relationships with producers?
It is very important to us. Having to purchase over 700 Angus steers per day, our procurement team puts trust in our producers to deliver the right quality animals for our specifications. Without the producer we don’t have a product. Without having an open working relationship with the producer, we can’t improve our product nor grow”
Your Angus Reserve brand that is processed through your Oakey and Wingham plants is verified for Angus breed content by Angus Australia, how important is that to Whyalla Beef?
To Whyalla Beef the most important thing is the customer. Our customers want to know that they are purchasing 100% genuine Angus beef. Having the independent third-party verification by Angus Australia provides important added assurance and value to our customers.
From a feeder purchasing point of view, its important for us to know that we are buying quality purebred black Angus steers and the Angus Australia verification helps maintain integrity through this process.
Where to from here for Whyalla Beef?
“For our customers, it’s working hard to maintain loyalty through the supply of consistent high-quality product and for our suppliers, it’s keeping our producers involved to secure quality Angus steers for the future”
To find out more about supplying cattle to Whyalla Beef, contact Greg Krarup, National Livestock Manager 0429 795 993 or firstname.lastname@example.org