Three names synonymous with the northern Australian beef industry – Dr Stu McLennan, John Bertram and Paul Smith, Tieyon Station – were presented with NABRC medals last Tuesday, 13 August 2013 at the Northern Beef Research Update Conference held in Cairns.
The medals acknowledge the achievements of people who excel in three fields respectively – production, research and development and communication/extension in North Australia.
(Click on images below for pictures of medal presentations)
Winner of the Scientist/Research category Dr Stu McLennan graduated in 1972 and has spent his entire career in northern Australia with a brief period in Armidale while he completed his PhD.
He has worked the bulk of that time at Swans Lagoon Research Station, at the Animal Research Institute, Yeerongpilly and at the Ecoscience Precinct (QAAFI) with research on Swans Lagoon Research Station, Brigalow Research Station, Brian Pastures Research Station, Mt Cotton Research Station UQ and QASP UQ.
Research highlights include being part of the team that developed the M8U supplement used widely in the north and instrumental in drought survival and welfare of animals.
He was also a member of the group that developed supplement feeding regimes for urea which now underpins the northern beef industry.
Dr McLennan also developed molasses feeding regimes and his PhD showed how molasses could be used at high levels to fatten animals with appropriate supplement addition.
Winner of the Communicator/Extension medal John Bertram has devoted the past thirty nine years to the northern beef industry.
He has played a pivotal role in ‘translating’ the findings from major research programs such as the Beef CRC and Bull Power into practical selection and management strategies for stud and commercial producers.
He is without peer in northern Australia in the field of practical genetic improvement and bull selection and regularly delivers workshops to pastoral companies, commercial producers and cattle veterinarians.
Since 2007 John has been contracted by the University of Queensland’s veterinary school to provide regular tutorials to 5th year Veterinary Science students in bull soundness examination and rural practical experience training for 2nd year Veterinary Science students.
John has also played a major role in developing strong linkages between northern Australia and beef cattle industries in New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
The recipient of the Producer medal, Paul Smith also acknowledges the extension efforts of John Bertram who worked with his father during the late 80s on station AI programs as a catalyst for his being involved in research, development and extension activities.
Nominated by the Alice Springs Pastoral Industry Advisory Committee (ASPIAC) primarily for his role in the ground breaking heifer research that was carried out at Tieyon Station from 2005 through to 2012 Paul’s achievements are many.
They include chairing ASPIAC from 2004 to 2006, representation of the southern Alice Springs region on the Centralian Land Management Association, promotion of financial benchmarking, development of the Central Australian Grazing Land Management workshop and input into other NT Department of Primary Industries Fisheries research projects and policy.
There are only a few published reports of the performance of cattle recorded on commercial stations in central Australia but never through a period of extended drought.
CSIRO researchers studied the performance of cattle in Kunoth Paddock (Hamilton Downs) from 1970 to 1976 and the average annual rainfall during that period was 443 mm.
Cattle performance was also recorded at Mt Riddick from 1991 to 1996, but when the rainfall fell below 300 mm performance recording was suspended.
By comparison the average annual rainfall received at Tieyon from 2004 to 2009 was 143 mm.
The fact that the work at Tieyon continued through such a dry period was only possible due to the great commitment of Paul, his family and staff to allowing the performance of heifers to be measured objectively for the first time during extended dry conditions in central Australia.
This has provided very rare information which enabled a much better understanding of heifer performance during well below average as well as above average seasons in central Australia.
In presenting the medals NABRC chairman, Ralph Shannon acknowledged their contribution to the role of NABRC as an alliance of beef producers, research, development and extension providers and funders operating across the Northern Territory, Queensland, and the Pilbara/Kimberly regions of Western Australia.