Hereford and Brahman genetics have contributed to Fig Trees Organic Farms from northern NSW winning the 2012 NSW Barbecue Challenge.
The Fig Tree team led by Glenn Morris won the regional final at Inverell then travelled to Sydney where they competed against the regional winners. The barbecue was organised by Inland Tourism to promote local produce.
The team from FigTrees Organic Farms – Glenn, Henry Sheehan and Katie Dudley – presented an elegant plate of first class local produce.
The plate’s centre-piece was Fig Tree certified organic grassfed beef taken from a whole tenderloin from a three-quarter Hereford, one quarter Brahman animal.
Judges commented on the exceptional flavours of the grassfed Fig Trees beef and the outstanding taste and quality of all the regional ingredients.
They were also impressed by the connection made between healthy food and a healthy environment.
After experimenting with several breed blends, Fig Tree’s general manager Glenn Morris hit upon what he believes to be a winner; a three quarter Hereford quarter Brahman produced from using Hereford bulls over F1 Brahman x Hereford cows.
When he took over the property’s management, Fig Trees ran an environmentally-adapted Hereford herd. He experimented with Brahman bulls over those cows to gain hybrid vigour and he is now convinced that the F1 female is ideal for their production systems on both the company’s properties, Wilton Park in the NSW Northern Rivers near Grafton, and Billabong, near Inverell in the NSW New England district.
Simmental and Shorthorn genetics were trialled but the need for more softness and finish led him to use Hereford bulls from Glenwarrah as terminal sires and that is the genetic blend that has been found to work the best.
“We have found we didn’t lose any growth and were able to maintain a good muscle pattern using the Hereford sires and Hereford sired calves grow as well as any breed we have tried,” he said.
No females are kept and ideally, Glenn would like to be able to buy in the F1 Brahman X Hereford females but has found that difficult.
“There seems to be a real market in the US for those F1 females and I wish we could get them here,” he said.
The three-quarter Hereford, quarter Brahman animal is versatile allowing turn off from Wilton Park as six months old milk vealers straight off their F1 dams providing a 120kg Certified Organic carcase for local and Sydney speciality retailers and restaurants.
“The F1 females are absolutely superb at punching out a well-finished calf – they do not miss a beat,” he said.
At Billabong, the calves are grown-out to two years of age to produce grass-finished Organic beef.
While Glenn is keen to get the genetics right, his real passion is in his commitment to organic and holistic farming.
“Our products not only taste great but they are also taking care of consumers’ health, farm health and the health of our surrounding environment and water systems,” he said.
“Quality beef should be determined not only by visual appeal but more importantly on the degree of healthy fats and protein it contains.”
Glenn claims that beef produced off well-managed organically-certified pasture creates a positive chain of health effects. These include an overall improvement in the health of water systems, of soil microbes, of fertile soils, of plants, of animals and ultimately on the health of people.
He also claims that Organically-grown pasture-fed beef contains higher levels of Omega 3, vitamins E, A and D and other essential minerals.
The cattle are grazed exclusively on pastures to ensure the nutritional quality and flavour is of the highest possible standard but also that the cattle are raised ethically in a natural environment.
The yearlings and two year olds at Billabong graze a diverse high-quality native and improved pastures. At Wilton Park, top-quality milk veal is produced off healthy pastures on the Clarence River flood plains.