Better business management for seedstock producers

Beef Central, 26/02/2020

WELL-KNOWN agribusiness advisors Ian McLean and Phil Holmes are planning to establish a business skills development group specifically tailored for seedstock producers.

The pair have for many years worked with groups of commercial cattle producers across the country to improve their business performance, but now see a need for a similar group-based program tailored for bull breeders.

Phil Holmes

An information session will be held in Brisbane on March 23, where Messrs McLean and Holmes will provide more information on the proposed group, how it will work, and answer questions. The group is open to all breeds and will not be aligned with any individual breed or breed society.

The information session will take place at the Century Room at Allan Border Fields, Albion, running from 9am on March 23, and will include morning tea.

Mr McLean, principal of Bush AgriBusiness, said the idea was to bringing together a group of leading northern Australian seedstock producers to learn from each other about improving their individual businesses, and the genetic gain of the industry as a whole.

“The group will provide a structured forum for progressive seedstock producers to collaborate, build and share their knowledge of profitable seedstock production,” he said.

“The founding principle of this group is that genetic improvement is best achieved through objective selection for traits that drive commercial profitability.”

“Phil and I both work with a number or cattle producer groups – we find they are an effective way to harness the collective wisdom of producers to provide valuable high-level business insights based on hard-won knowledge and experience,” he said.

Ian McLean, Bush Agribusiness

Messrs Holmes and McLean facilitate the groups and undertake a detailed analysis of their financial and production performance to underpin discussions.

Forming a group specifically for seedstock producers would provide an opportunity for progressive people to come together and learn from each other, Mr McLean said.

“There are a couple of areas where we believe seedstock producers require a high level of expertise to be successful, which commercial producers do not,” he said.

“The obvious one is genetics – having a thorough understanding of what genetic traits will boost the bottom line of commercial producers is essential – as is having the ability and passion to achieve continuous, balanced and measurable genetic improvement in these traits.”

While commercial breeders needed a good working knowledge of genetics, they did not need the expertise a serious seedstock producer did, he said.

“The second area is marketing. Commercial producers do not, and probably should not, focus on marketing. They need to be clear on what market they are producing for, and what specs they should meet to maximise their bottom line.”

“Beyond that they can focus on production: producing as much as they can at as lower cost of production as they can. There will always be someone to buy it, a phone call to the feedlot, the processor or the agent is generally all that is required.”

For seedstock producers it was different, Mr McLean said.

“The seedstock producer not only needs to produce a good product, but they then need to find buyers who are prepared to buy those bulls, at a price that adequately rewards them for the additional effort of producing superior genetics,” he said.

Some seedstock producers focussed more on marketing than genetics at the moment, and vice versa.

“We believe both is essential, with genetics having the primary focus. For those with a serious focus on genetics linked to commercial profitability, it can be a long row to hoe. Particularly in an industry where the amount of grain poured down an animal’s throat can have a big influence on how much a bull is ‘valued’.”

Mr McLean said the proposed seedstock business group would have a focus on both genetics and marketing, along with overall business performance, strategy, and the other issues that inevitably arose in such a business.

“We are primarily seeking progressive seedstock producers that supply the northern beef industry. Seedstock producers that do not embrace objective measurement, or are more focussed on show ribbons than business performance, would be wasting both their time and ours by considering involvement.”

He listed some of the potential benefits for participation as:

  • Tapping into the collective wisdom of other like‐minded leading seedstock producers
  • Providing participants with an opportunity to gaining a deeper understanding of their business performance (financial, genetics, marketing), and how they are performing relative to their peers
  • Improving marketplace differentiation for their product
  • Access and input into to the latest genetics research and development
  • Linking genetic progress to commercial outcomes
  • A focus on objective description and producing sound, quantified genetics to improve client profitability.

Mr McLean said solid business and scientific data would underpin all group discussions.

“Knowledge gained will be evidence‐based and subject to economic scrutiny,” he said.

Potential group members would need to have an openness about their business, genetics and marketing within a group of like‐minded peers.

Group members will have their businesses benchmarked annually by Bush AgriBusiness to  provide an understanding of their current position, and to provide a basis for comparison.

“The benchmarking is simply a diagnostic tool; the focus will be on the profitable production and marketing of quality genetics,” Mr McLean said.

It is proposed that the group will meet two to four times a year, either on‐property or in a central location. Meetings will include discussions, case studies and external speakers to assist group members to learn from each other, and others, on all aspects of profitable seedstock businesses.

Information session:

Where: Century Room, Allan Border Fields, Albion, Brisbane.

When: From 9am, Monday, March 23.

Registration is requested for catering purposes.

More information: contact Ian Mclean ph 0401  118  191  or email, click here. 


About Bush AgriBusiness

Bush Agribusiness is an agribusiness advisor  to  the  extensive  pastoral  industry,  providing  independent  analysis  and  insights to the sustainable and profitable pastoral businesses of the future. The company acts as a facilitator of commercial producer groups across northern Australia, and advises a number of pastoral enterprises, from small family businesses through to large companies. The company is an industry  leader  in  measuring  and  understanding  the  beef  industry’s  financial  and  production performance.



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