Blue-sky concepts as variable as an on-property abattoir, a feed compound that saves the use of antibiotics, and genetic gains made through sexed semen run through the entries chosen as finalists for the MLA Producer Innovation Award to be presented at Beef 2018.
Consumer resistance to grain- finished stock that had been fed antibiotics or ionophores is behind the development of a dry-form probiotic compound, which is at the heart of the entry from ProAgni Pty Ltd.
The trio that make up the NSW-based business – Lachlan Campbell, Fiona Soulsby and Robert Bell – say their goal is to remove antibiotics from the red meat food chain, “and make our children’s food safe”.
Their recognition of a significant pain point for producers, that they could no longer supply their grain finished stock to large processors because of their use of products containing antibiotics or ionophores, saw them develop the unique feed supplement, branded ProTect AIF.
In doing so, other benefits, such as improved feed conversion and ease of use, as well as a potential 75 per cent reduction in induction times, have been identified.
From north east Tasmania, Greg Bradfield has presented a case for AI using sexed semen, combined with genomic measurement, to increase the genetic merit of a herd in comparison with breed averages, and boost the profitability of a herd.
The managing director of Musselroe Beef commissioned a report by University of Adelaide honours student, Jenna Alexopoulos, to model his concept, which concluded that “the value proposition...becomes compelling”.
He said the long-term benefit was that it would generate more superior heifers that could continue to breed replacement heifers and bulls, while gaining a large premium for culls.
The final innovation competing for the MLA award is the Australian Micro Abattoirs concept devised by Michele Lally and Paul Barnett, based in South Australia.
When Michele and her husband Phil built the state’s first on-farm small scale red meat abattoir to enable vertical integration in their supply chain, in a way that they could control, many farmers wanted to know how to replicate their success.
The business was born and units are said to have a return on investment of two years at 75 per cent capacity in an on-farm branded system.
Michele said it reduced exposure to large fluctuations in price and gave users value-adding capabilities.
The MLA Producer Innovation Award will be made to the entry best demonstrating desirability, feasibility and viability.
MLA’s managing director, Richard Norton, said the award recognised beef producers who were using innovative management techniques, new technologies or bespoke business models.
“All three finalists have put forward extremely strong and innovative concepts for Australia’s beef industry,” he said.
“In particular, all of the projects demonstrated a high level consultation across the industry to ensure there was demand for their concepts, with significant preparation done to develop a viable business model.
“While all three are strong concepts, we note that they each need further trials in order to bring them to market – which is the next phase of the journey for each of the finalists.”
The finalists and the winner were chosen by a selection panel of made of representatives from MLA and a producer representative.
The winner, who will receive the award at Beef Australia 2018 as part of MLA’s packed program of activities, will have the opportunity for their innovation to be showcased to the red meat and livestock industry.
MLA will also offer the winner ongoing support to refine and develop their concept further.
The award is part of the 2018 Rabobank Beef Industry Awards, a joint initiative between Rabobank and Queensland Country Life.