Angus has reached the top of the beef cattle industry but the breed is going to have to work hard to stay there.
That was the farewell message to last week's Angus Australia national conference in Albury from the society's CEO, Peter Parnell.
About 250 delegates attended the conference which also marked the 100th anniversary of Angus Australia but Dr Parnell said most of the focus had been looking ahead rather than celebrating the Angus breed's past successes.
He said most of the key speakers had given delegates the message the breed faced big challenges in staying ahead of a pack of other breeds that wanted to replace Angus at the top of the beef supply chain.
Dr Parnell said current breeders had the opportunity to shape the breed so it was successful for the next 100 years.
"The very clear focus of your breed society, Angus Australia, over the past decade has been to provide industry leading services to our members and the industry to enhance and promote Angus.
"Not everything we do we get right the first time but I can guarantee you that there is a huge emphasis on being industry leaders in everything we do," Dr Parnell said.
He said for him one of the features of the conference had been the great input from supply chain participants and their strong endorsement of the increased role and importance of Angus beef.
"We've had a really strong engagement with the supply chain (at the conference) and that is an endorsement of our focus over the last couple of years to get closer to the supply chain," he said.
The supply chain participants included Marcel Moodley, global retail giant Costco's assistant general manager of merchandise in Australia; Melbourne celebrity chef, Adrian Richardson, and high-profile Sydney boutique butcher, Anthony Puharich, from Vic's Meat.
Dr Parnell said they had given the conference the strong message that Angus was finally valued in the supply chain but much more work had to be done to stay at the top in terms of consistency and quality.
"Angus (beef) is not a commodity and we don't want it to be a commodity product, it's got to be a premium product to command a premium (price)," he said.
Dr Parnell said the presentation by leading New Zealand geneticist, Dorian Garrick, from Massey University, had posed challenging food-for-thought for all Angus breeders.
In his presentation Dr Garrick had warned about the dangers of continuing to select for larger cattle without a focus on some of the things that were going to be important in the industry in a decade's time, Dr Parnell said.
"I think it was very important to emphasise to us that in breeding cattle to make genetic improvement we need to understand what we want to achieve in 10 years time and start making decisions now.
"We have the tools to move performance in any direction we like. But we have to be focused on those long-term important things which may be different to what they are today.
"Things like environment hoofprint, welfare of animals, the importance of maternal performance back in the herd."
Dr Parnell said balancing that with high quality end-product was going to be a big challenge.
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