Industry leader calls for whole-of-sector approach

Anzco Foods agriculture general manager Jamie Gordon, who is also general manager of  New Zealand's only large-scale cattle feedlot operation, Five Star Beef, spoke at the Farming for Profit field day last week. Photo by Ruth Grundy
Anzco Foods agriculture general manager Jamie Gordon, who is also general manager of New Zealand's only large-scale cattle feedlot operation, Five Star Beef, spoke at the Farming for Profit field day last week. Photo by Ruth Grundy

More beef calves on the ground, growing more quickly, could ''shift the whole supply curve'' and that ''would not be a bad thing'', a meat industry spokesman says.

Anzco Foods agriculture general manager Jamie Gordon, who is also general manager of New Zealand's only large-scale cattle feedlot operation, Five Star Beef, was speaking to a group of about 130 people at a Beef and Lamb New Zealand South Canterbury Farming for Profit field day at Godley Peaks Station, Lake Tekapo, last week.

''It has to happen,'' Mr Gordon said.

For beef cattle farming to be a competitive land-use option, all parts of the supply chain needed to contribute, he said.

New and more demanding markets were pushing the change.

It had to be made at all levels, from getting the right product to the right customer, in meat-processing efficiencies, better prices for grain to feedlots, improving on-farm productivity and genetic input.

Customers wanted safe food produced with minimal effect on the environment, and a consistent quality of product which was value for money and available year round.

The growth of calves from birth was important and had the largest impact on the value chain provided fertility was maintained, he said.

Farmers needed to change how they looked at beef cow efficiency and measure it through to slaughter, not just to calf weaning.

As an industry, bringing in the best of global genetics was important to remain competitive.

''The future beef supply chain needs to aim for 90% to 95% weaning and a post-weaning growth rate of more than 1kg a day.`This will require the best genetics and management.''

Focused objective genetic selection was required.

In a panel discussion, Mr Gordon said fertility was easy to select for, so if farmers selected ''hard on that'', the benefits would flow through.

''The job of the seed stock industry is to try these things out ... try the extremes and see what works,'' Mr Gordon said.

- by Ruth Grundy