2022 Conference Wrap-Up

The 2022 biennial ABS Beef Conference & Progeny Tour was held in Tamworth over three days in mid-March. This year our conference had a specific focus on the macro issues affecting the Australian and global beef Industries, specifically addressing the challenge of how sustainability and profitability can work hand in hand. Another focus of the conference was to explore how genetic innovation can be the key to a more sustainable and ethical meat supply chain. With over 180 beef producers and representatives in attendance across the three days, the event was a tremendous  success and offered a fantastic opportunity for those attending to catch up in person after a challenging two years of COVID restrictions with little to no social contact between states! Fortunately, this year saw keynote speakers from around Australia as well as international guests make the trip for the three-day Conference & Progeny Tour.

Day 1 saw the Tamworth League Club conference centre at near capacity, with guests enjoying an action-packed line-up of keynote speakers. Hamish Chandler of MLA opened the morning session with an insightful presentation exploring the ability to adapt genetics for MSA markets. Of particular interest to attendees was Hamish’s reference to consumer expectations with regards to sustainability and carbon neutrality, and how we begin to build these expectations into our own breeding programs. It was noted that genetics can now be accurately utilised at a commercial level to improve consumer outcomes, particularly around eating quality traits.

Dr Breanna Roque of FutureFeed continued the focus on sustainability with a fascinating insight into how seaweed, specifically Asparagopsis seaweed, can be used to dramatically reduce the methane output of beef and dairy cattle. Breanna presented research conducted by FutureFeed that demonstrates Asparagopsis’ role in persistently inhibiting methane production in beef cattle. In one trial, FutureFeed were able to reduce methane output by an astonishing 98% while only feeding at a rate of 0.2% of total dietary ration!

Dr Matthew Cleveland & Mark Barnett

Director of Global Beef Product Development at ABS, Dr Matthew Cleveland travelled to Australia to deliver an inspiring update on ABS’ pioneering NuEra Genetics™ program. Specifically, Matt addressed ABS’ role in using genetics to deliver on the three core pillars for global beef supply chain sustainability – efficiency/profitability, environment, and animal well-being. Outlining ABS’ beef innovation pipeline, Matt offered thoughts on gene editing to combat costly diseases such as Bovine Respiratory Disease and Feedlot Heart Disease.

Monday’s conference day was wrapped up with afternoon speakers Enoch Bergman of Swans Veterinary Clinic and Bill Cornell, ABS Australia Beef Product Manager. Enoch, as always, delivered an incredibly entertaining update on the benefits of incorporating Fixed Time AI (FTAI) in commercial settings and covered some important new findings and analysis of recent MLA trials to demonstrate the effectiveness of FTAI to deliver profitability to customers. Bill Cornell offered a product update from ABS and outlined the ABS transition plan that will see Fletch Kelly step into the role of Australian Beef Product Manager in July 2022, while Bill looks to transition into a lesser workload and focus on some specific ABS Beef projects moving forward.

The ABS Conference Gala Dinner and Charity Auction, presented by Auctions Plus, followed the day 1 conference

L-R: Marcus Rees, Annie Pumpa, Bill Cornell, Kim Hodder, Fletch Kelly, Dr Matthew Cleveland

session and saw attendees enjoy a cocktail hour on the lawns of the Tamworth Leagues Club, followed by a sit-down dinner with a massive surprise in store! Unbeknownst to Bill Cornell, a ‘secret squirrel’ plan to have him awarded an honorary life membership with Angus Australia had been brewing since late last year. Presented by Erica Halliday, Vice-President of Angus Australia, Bill was awarded the highest honour within the Australian Angus breed in front of a standing ovation from lifelong friends, colleagues, and fellow Angus members in what he now declares as one of the special moments in his 40+ year career.

Following the excitement of Bill’s award, the ABS Charity Auction in support of ‘The Naked Farmer’ was conducted, with Enoch Bergman of Swans Vets taking to the stage to auction items generously donated from across the industry. After a fierce hour of bidding, all items were sold for an astonishing total of $12,800, with funds directed by The Naked Farmer to support the worthy cause of rural mental health.

Annie Pumpa with the Booroomooka team

With an early start to day 2, the first progeny tour day for the Conference saw attendees travel two hours north to Bingara to visit Booroomooka Angus, a fifth generation Angus cattle seedstock operation run by principals Jo & Sinclair Munro, spanning over 11,000 hectares. The Booroomooka program is centred around integrity, commitment, reliability, and innovation. Attendees were treated to a fantastic and diverse selection of the 1,000 HBR cattle and 3,500 commercial cattle that make up the Booroomooka herd, including exciting young progeny by GB Fireball.

The second stop of the day was an hour south to Peakes Bowen Angus and Poll Hereford, ahead of their March female sale. With over 58 years and three generations of breeding Hereford and Angus cattle, the Bowen herd is focussed on a sound, practical breeding program producing functional, efficient performance Angus and Poll Hereford cattle. A selection of stunning Wirruna Matty daughters and Matauri Reality 839 great granddaughters were standouts of the tour.

Colin Keevers, Lisa Martin, Rodger Pryce, Nicholas Morgan inspecting cattle on Day 3

The final day of the 2-day progeny tour program commenced at Kentucky, with a striking display of cows and calves

from the Bulliac Angus herd. Stud principal Ben Hill gave a great insight into the breeding philosophy and history of the herd, alongside lifelong friend Marg Will, who together had a cracking line-up with cattle enthusiasts eager to explore the deep maternal bloodlines on display. Calves by GB Fireball and Square B True North were absolute standouts, with Northern NSW Beef Manager Kim Hodder noting the tremendous depth, thickness and quality of True North progeny coming through across her region.

Last for the Conference, but certainly not least, was an eagerly anticipated visit to Ben Nevis Angus, run by Stu and

Group at Ben Nevis

Erica Halliday, alongside trusted assistant four-legged farm managers Digbee and Yogi. Ben Nevis is now in the fifth generation of the family with Angus cattle first coming to the 4,000-acre property in 1902. Bruce Steel served in WW2 and his commanding officer, HG Munro of Booroomooka, inspired Bruce to start the Angus stud herd in 1947. While cattle, particularly the Paratrooper P15 sons, were the central focus of this tour, guests were treated to a delicious lunch and a complimentary gin & crafted beer tasting, which was extremely well received after a long three days of all things beef! The icing on the cake for the day was quite literally a cutting of two cakes to celebrate Cherry Steel’s birthday & the 75th anniversary of Ben Nevis Angus!

The team at ABS Australia Beef would like to extend another huge thank you to all who attended the Conference and Progeny Tours. A special thanks also goes to the West Tamworth Leagues Club and its staff, our dinner sponsor Auctions Plus, our trade stand partners Neogen Australia, Zoetis Australia, Insignia, Simmental Australia, Herefords Australia, Angus Australia and Vetoquinol and our progeny tour partners Booroomooka Angus, Peakes Bowen Poll Herefords & Angus, Bulliac Angus and Ben Nevis Angus.

Stay tuned for the next biennial ABS Beef Conference!