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Keeping a finger on the industry pulse

21 January 2021

South-west NSW sheep producer Angus Whyte is always on the lookout for new ideas and resources to use in his business.

He’s not one to sit back and wait for these ideas to arrive, as he believes the key to maintaining a productive enterprise is a two-way flow of information.

Angus is regional chair for the Southern Australian Livestock Research Council (SALRC), which gives producers the opportunity to drive the future direction of MLA’s levy-payer funded research and development for their area.

He’s helping to organise the new series of MLA’s MeatUp forums across southern Australia, to keep information flowing and build networks for producers.

“These forums allow producers to hear what research is being done, what requirements and expectations consumers have, and what options are out there to assist us in livestock production,” Angus said.  

The MeatUp events also keep producers informed about MLA’s other programs so they can tap into a broad range of information and support.

“If you walk into the room with a clean slate – an open mind that is looking for ideas – then the opportunities are huge,” Angus said.

“There are so many options to manage livestock – refocusing your current business a few degrees might just align you with a different, more lucrative, market.”

Ready for opportunity

Angus has seen the impact to his own business from being flexible and aligning to opportunities as they come along.

Angus, with his wife Kelly and 17-year-old son Mitchell, operates 31,000ha along the Anabranch River, via Wentworth. This area includes the 12,500ha Wyndham Station – which they own – as well as land they lease from Angus’ mother.

They are currently restocking after prolonged drought, and Angus takes a pragmatic approach to rebuilding the business.

“Restocking is about lining your expectations up,” he said.

“We buy stock that we can make money from – they don’t have to be our perfect animal. We go and buy a mob here and a mob there and over time build them up.

“But for your own peace of mind, it’s good to have some stock that you are really happy with, some that know your country, that you hang on to during the drought. It’s tough on your psyche to have to sell everything.”

Angus said it’s important to stay focused on moving forward.

“You can’t just put your head down and work hard and expect to get paid and respected. You have to make sure you know where the market is going and that you’re up to date with new technology.

“If today I think I have a good system and I don’t need to change anything, one day it will be broken and then it will be a huge upheaval to change it.”

His tip for other producers in the search for continuous improvement is to tap into the resources of skills and people that MLA has and to help influence the direction of research that matters to their region.

“My experience in SALRC has taught me that there are so many skilled people with a huge resource of information that are only too happy to help producers improve what they do,” he said.

Lessons learned

  • Take opportunities to learn from others.
  • Be prepared to constantly improve and change the way you do things.
  • Look after your psyche as well as your pocket.