A SOUTHERN NSW Angus breeder has pointed to economically grass-finished beef combined with intelligent grain finishing as the future for industry sustainability.
Mark Lucas, Reiland Angus, Tumut, said demand for lower carbon footprint beef production, or grass-fed beef, had never been higher.
Mr Lucas pointed to long-term grain-fed beef as being a “luxury’’ product with a large carbon footprint, or environmental impact.
He said production systems relying heavily on excessive grain consumption over a long period were not environmentally sustainable.
“Tasteful, flavorsome beef does not require the consumption of four to five tonnes of grain per animal,’’ he said.
“Admittedly, there will always be a niche for such indulgence, but inevitably grain prices will rise and challenge profitability of such a production system.
“Smart farmers know how to grow great pastures and embracing sustainability should be high on all grazing-focused businesses.
“Lower carbon footprint production is here to stay.’’
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The Reiland stud herd was founded in 1973 by Roland and Eileen Lucas, having run commercial Angus cattle for many years prior.
The strength of the Reiland herd is the strong maternal traits that all cows reflect.
Mark Lucas said Reiland Angus genetics were targeted at “intelligent” feedlot finishing to express marbling and ensure consumer satisfaction.
He is committed to beef sustainability and commercial profitability using science and genetic selection all within the environment cattle are expected to perform within.
It is critical for the Angus breed to remain easy care, low maintenance and fertile, he said.
This equates to a balanced selection criteria of calving ease, short gestation, fertility, adequate/high growth, moderate fat and positive retail beef yield coupled with uncompromising type and conformation.
“Australia’s point of difference relative to our global competitors is we can adapt to change,’’ Mr Lucas said.
“We can grow grass economically and we are selling on the basis of a beef product being naturally raised on pastures with a limited or minor carbon footprint within a feedlot finishing system to maximize profitability along the production chain.’’
Mr Lucas said the consumer focus on clean, green beef was not a fad.
“The demand from Australian and USA top-end restaurants and chefs means seedstock producers should not lose sight of the fact the Angus breed needs to remain versatile across a range of markets rather than a single focused market outcome,’’ he said.