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2016 Preview for Stock & Land Beef Week

14/01/2016

 IN November last year YavenVale Herefords received a phone call that most beef producers only dream of.

On the line was George Vardis, the owner of Sydney’s prestigious Vardis Group - a restaurant empire built on serving the best steaks in town.

“He ended up ringing Dad, and was eating one of our steaks at the time, and he was very favourable in his comments,” YavenVale principal James Pearce said.

“It’s a bit of a plug you don’t expect to get. You always think ‘Geez it’d be nice to know where our meat ends up’, and when you get direct feedback like that it’s really exciting".

The menu at Steersons Steakhouse, where Mr Vardis was calling from, reads differently to your average restaurant. Cuts of steak are grouped according to where the beef is sourced and there’s an accompanying explanation of why the origin matters.

The YavenVale sirloin steak made its way to Steersons via a consignment of steers the Pearces sold to Herefords Australia’s new premium label, Hereford True Beef.

James and wife Nicki supplied cattle for Hereford True for the first southern kill at Cootamundra, NSW for the brand, which aims to boost the breed’s name on high end plates.

Their selection was little wonder, given YavenVale’s focus on breeding top eating-quality traits.

YavenVale has been concentrating on improving carcase quality in their herd since the stud was founded to the point over 350 of their stud females are in the breed’s top 5pc for IMF on Group Breedplan. 

Carcases supplied for Hereford True must receive very high Meat Standards Australia (MSA) eating quality scores of 60 or above after processing to be sold under the label.

YavenVale passed this test with flying colours, obtaining a 100 per cent compliance rate for their 187 18 to 20 month-old steers and heifers.

“We didn’t get a dark cutter,” Mr Pearce said.

“Our MSA index average was 63 and average MSA marbling was 433 (or Ausmeat marble score 2.2). That really shows great eating quality - and these steers that got killed were grassfed and are the brothers of the bulls we’re selling soon.”

Grazing the undulating hills near Adelong are the 114 bulls which made the grade for this year’s February sale from over 300 male calves in YavenVale’s 2014-drop.

“From an EBV and index point-of-view it’s the strongest lineup we’ve ever had,” Mr Pearce said.

“I think it’s a reflection of the direction we’ve been going in for a number of years.

“We’ve been trying to get more ‘curve-benders’ - progeny with moderate birth weight and high growth rates.

Intra-muscular fat (IMF) scores had also increased substantially in the past few years, Mr Pearce said.

This year will be the largest offering yet of YavenVale genetics under the hammer.

Numbers are up mostly due to a strong-performing cohort from their 2014-drop, Mr Pearce said, which made it hard to leave bulls out of the catalogue.
“Even our last 15 bulls average in the top 10% of the breed for the Grain Fed Index,” he said. “We’ve got decent bulls the whole way through and I’m really pleased with how they’ve turned out this year.”

James and Nicki are hoping the momentum will continue from last year’s auction, where 95 bulls sold for YavenVale’s highest average of $6500.

 “The beef industry is as profitable as it has been in the last 30 years in real terms and it’s great to see producers getting well rewarded,” Mr Pearce said.

“With new marketing options like Hereford True becoming available I think it is an exciting                      time to be breeding Herefords.”

By DANNIKA BONSER

Story courtesy The Land Newspaper