WA cattle producers were provided with a wealth of information at last week’s Know and Grow Workshop conducted by the WA Lot Feeders Association, in conjunction with the Irongate Wagyu stud at Albany.
Attendees were provided with an overview of the Irongate operation and future plans for both the stud and the Wagyu breed in general.
A highlight of the day was the opportunity to enjoy a Wagyu taste experience at lunchtime with the Irongate team serving up Wagyu tenderloin carpaccio, Wagyu brisket, topside and sirloin.
After lunch attendees were taken through a variety of subjects that related to the feedlot industry as a whole.
These included changes to the National Feedlot Accreditation Standards (NFAS) and what these changes mean to lotfeeders; preparing for internal audits; heat load mitigation strategies for feedlots; and how to build the best team possible for feedlot businesses.
Some time was spent by Australian Lot Feeders Association technical services officer Jeff House on what implications recent changes to the NFAS had for WA lotfeeders.
Mr House told attendees that a review of the NFAS started in 2014 to assess the standards and see if they needed to be modernised.
“It is important from an ALFA point of view to ensure all feedlots have access to market premiums for grainfed beef,” he said.
A number of stakeholders in the beef industry were consulted and this included lotfeeders, processors, meat suppliers, beef brand owners, cattle producers, nutritionists and vets and animal welfare experts and researchers.
Mr House said most of the feedback for the review related to continual improvement to address changing perceptions around animal production generally and ensuring grainfed beef remained a relevant category in the beef supply chain through adequate product integrity mechanisms.
“Another point was broader adoption of the standards across feedlots nationally,” he said.
“There are about 400 feedlots accredited nationally, and we all know that there are a lot of feedlots out there operating that aren’t accredited and aren’t in the tent.
“It is important we try and get as many of those in as we can.”
Mr House said there was also feedback to increase consumer awareness of the scheme.
“It is a QA program that has been around for 20 years and it underpins animal welfare and our environmental credentials, but we don’t really promote that any further down the chain,” he said.
“It was suggested there were opportunities there to promote it further and there is potential to have a trademark that can be used further down the chain.”
Mr House said there were 17 recommendations in total and a committee put together to look at recommendations and changes were formulated from there.
One of the key changes centred around the definition of a feedlot.
“This definition has tightened up on what was the previous definition,” Mr House said.
“A feedlot means a constructed facility with designated water points where cattle are confined with a stocking density of 25m2 per standard cattle unit or less and are fed only a prepared ration for purpose of production.
“The previous definition didn’t have an actual value in it in terms of stocking density.
“It was identified in the review that as an industry we can differentiate our production system from a number of other production systems that are out there now.”
Mr House said lotfeeders should have received communication on the changes last week and there would be a period for feedback with the changes to come into play in March next year.