Howard Smith leaving with a grass-fed legacy

Good rain will see the grass-fed market in the producers' favour


Beef Cattle
At home: Howard Smith, Mt Panorama, Rolleston, with a line of Angus heifers bought from NSW. Pictures: Helen Walker

At home: Howard Smith, Mt Panorama, Rolleston, with a line of Angus heifers bought from NSW. Pictures: Helen Walker

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After four years at the helm of the CCA Howard Smith is back doing what he enjoys best.

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After four years at the helm of Cattle Council of Australia, beef producer Howard Smith, Mt Panorana, Rolleston, stepped down last November and is back doing what he enjoys best.

Mr Smith was the driving force behind the development of the Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System and was determined to find opportunities for producers to gain premiums and increase transparency.

He said the current market is in the hands of 'supply and demand', but as soon as there is good rain the grass-fed market will be in the producers' favour.

"This is the first time we have enjoyed a growing generation of middle class who can afford our product," Mr Smith said.

"One of the my biggest achievements is that pasture-fed beef has been re-classed as a premium product. Before that grain-fed beef was seen as the superior product."

Another achievement was working with government to negotiate improved market access for Australian beef through Free Trade Agreements with several key markets including South Korea and Japan.

Targeting the PCAS market

Howard Smith, in partnership with his brothers Andrew, David and Matt, runs about 6000 Brahman cross cattle and Angus over four properties near Rolleston.

The properties, spanning 24,000 hectares ,include Mt Panorama, Glencoe, Purbrook and Uranus.

It is predominately brigalow country with alluvial creek and river flats sown to buffel and Bambatsi panic.

Included in their herd are 2500 Brahman based breeders and they are joined to Angus bulls that throw a Brangus progeny to target the premium grass-fed market.

As well the family partnership buys in up 500 trade cattle annually to finish.

Gail and Howard Smith, Mt Panorama, Rolleston.

Gail and Howard Smith, Mt Panorama, Rolleston.

When the seasons permit, they sell their steers into the 300 kilogram weight range grass-fed market to Teys Australia, Biloela and Rockhampton plants, and into the Stanbroke Pastoral Company's branded market.

"We really look to chase the premium PCAS grass-fed market developed by Cattle Council of Australia," Mr Smith said.

More recently due to the prevailing dry, the family sold a line of 800 steers onto the feeder market.

All breeders are joined for three months from October, and calve down in spring the following year.

When the progeny hit the 250 kilogram weight range in late autumn they are weaned aged between six to eight months.

Yard weaning takes place over 10 days and the cattle are tailed out and worked with dogs.

"At times we walk the cattle 10 kilometres in Rolleston and we lend them to the Rolleston Cutting Competition," Mr Smith said.

"The is a great form of education as they see people, and become desensitized."

The Smiths keep between 300 to 400 heifers as replacement breeders.

The balance of the progeny stay in the system and are finished for the grass-fed market or sold as trade cattle.

"We use the trade market to give us a buffer zone within our business," he said.

The Smiths are great believers in the use of Tri-Solfen for pain relief for dehorning and castrating calves.

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