THE largest feedlot in the southern hemisphere has launched a niche hereford program with great success.
NH Foods Australia, Whyalla Beef's 120 day program was designed to target a market saturated by black angus cattle.
The program processes 14,000 white-faced cattle per year and Whyalla Beef national livestock manager Greg Krarup said it had been going great.
The Hereford Reserve product has extremely high meat quality coupled with well-bred genetics according to Mr Krarup.
"The meat is distributed by NH Foods Australia and goes into countries like France and Beligum," he said.
"100% of the product comes direct from producers in the paddock.
"The customers have been very happy with the product, commenting on the quality, taste and marbling."
The hereford steers are finished to a carcass weight of 300-380kg, fat depth of 12-22mm and a minimum marble score of two or better.
Cattle are sourced direct from producers in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania.
A pre-feedlot entry vaccination of Bovilis MH + IBR (Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis) is recommended between 14 and 22 days before entry, with a booster shot given at feedlot induction.
Mr Krarup said pre-feedlot entry vaccination had a positive effect on average daily gain and feed efficiency.
He said the voluntary Bovilis MH + IBR vaccination program could eventually become a feedlot pre-requisite.
Mr Krarup encouraged hereford producers to contact the feedlot to offer cattle for the program. Whyalla Feedlot, Texas currently employs 104 staff. The feedlot is on 20,000 acres surrounding Texas on the Queensland / New South Wales border.
Mr Krarup said the feedlot takes cattle 365 days of the year and the benefit to producers is they have a live price every day of the year.
Mr Krarup said the cattle are fed three times a day on a need-to-feed basis.
"The stock handlers watch the cattle, if they are sitting down chewing their cud and the feed bins are empty, they don't need feeding," he said.
"If they rush over to the fence when the handlers walk past they will feed them.
"Every pen holds around 280 cattle and the feed trucks are on computer integrated programs so we know down to the last kilogram how much feed each pen has had," he said.
Like most places in regional Australia the feedlot struggles with quality internet coverage.
"It's just about knowing the cattle and factoring in the weather, obviously if it's a hot day the cattle will drink more water," he said.
Mr Krarup said their induction system is live and if the producer wanted they could access all the details about each animal as they are individually processed.
Whyalla inducts up to 1000 head of cattle per day, 7 days a week.
The pens are cleaned every few weeks with a dozer and the manure is screened and sold.
As national livestock manager it's Mr Krarup's role to watch overseas markets to determine the price they pay for cattle.
"Saleyard prices don't give you a true indication about what's happening in the market," he said.
"The saleyard price can be skewed on the day by one really good pen.
"Every Monday I look at the overseas markets and factor in operational costs and supply and demand to work out our live price for cattle."
On site the feedlot has its own airstrip and restaurant so overseas visitors can fly in and literally try before they buy.
Mr Krarup said the opening of Wellcamp Airport on the Darling Downs just outside Toowoomba had made it even more convenient to showcase products to the world.
Whyalla is almost totally self-sufficient and the operation alone would keep over 1000 people in a job from farmers, truck drivers and abattoir workers.
The feedlot has won various awards which Mr Krarup said was a testament to the operation considering its size, and its dedicated staff.
FAST FACTS ABOUT WHYALLA
The Japanese owned Whyalla Feedlot was purchased in 1988.
The feedlot is licensed for 75,000 head.
Whyalla Feedlot is one of the largest and most technically advanced feedlot operations in the southern hemisphere.
Along with the Whyalla Feedlot, Whyalla Beef operates out of 6 other feedlots throughout QLD, NSW and Victoria.
Whyalla Beef also operates farming country, two cattle breeding operations in NSW and Tasmania and backgrounds up to 30,000 steers per year.
Whyalla Feedlot is primarily made up of angus, british and wagyu breeds with cattle sourced from all over Australia.
Whyalla Beef turns off in excess of 180,000 head cattle per year with cattle processed at company subsidiaries Oakey Beef Exports and Wingham Beef Exports.
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