Quality and consistency key for Kerwee Feedlot

11 September 2019

Never compromise on quality is the message from Kerwee Feedlot, winners of the 2019 MSA Excellence in Eating Quality Awards for Most Outstanding MSA Feedlot in Queensland.

Located on the Darling Downs, Kerwee Feedlot is an integrated family business involved in breeding, backgrounding, lot feeding, processing and marketing of high-quality beef.

The business has a 20,200-head capacity, operating as part of the vertically integrated Kerwee Group, supplying Wagyu and long-fed Angus cattle for its Stockyard Beef brands.

Kerwee Feedlot registered as an MSA producer 20 years ago and according to the feedlot’s Livestock Manager, Stevie-Lee Wayman, it’s become a valuable tool for the business.

“It provides consistent measurements to manage variability and provide feedback to suppliers,” Stevie-Lee said.

“The myMSA tool benchmarks our product against the national herd and allows analysis specific to our cattle and feeding types compared to other similar programs.

“We use myMSA on a weekly basis to view customised reports for each of our feeding programs, and these reports feed our monthly performance Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

“We also use MSA feedback to guide our suppliers in which traits need improvement.”

Through a program of continuous improvement, the Kerwee Group has made significant investments throughout the entire supply chain in animal genetics, breeding and backgrounding cattle, lot feeding programs and processing innovation in order to guarantee quality and consistency.

Every step in the production chain is monitored for quality and safety to ensure Stockyard Beef meets the highest expectations from the world’s leading chefs and retailers.

Cattle are fed a balanced diet consisting of nutritious, steam-flaked, white grains. This ensures they produce a consistent light meat and fat colour.

“We feed cattle the same ration every day so we consistently turnoff the same product all of the time,” Stevie-Lee said.

“Feed efficiency is more critical than growth rate for our own high value product.”

And while nutrition plays a critical role in Kerwee Feedlot’s desire to meet MSA compliance, Stevie-Lee says it’s also about transport, staff and facilities, and simple things like making sure that water troughs are clean.

The feedlot, which underwent state of the art expansion and investment in 2017, is designed for the cattle to enjoy a clean and stress-free environment.

“Our stock people are all trained in animal welfare standards in order to minimise stress and eliminate any injury or bruising,” Stevie-Lee said.

“Good weaning practices and pre-arrival vaccinations keep cattle in good health through the feeding period.

“Daily handling of stock mean they are kept calm at exit and trucking scheduling is managed weekly to ensure hot weather and time in lairage does not affect the carcase grading results.”

The combination of consistent high energy nutrition and managing the cattle to minimise any stress is a winning combination to meet MSA minimum requirements. It’s why Kerwee was able to achieve 99.1% compliance, in addition to an average MSA Index of 64.40 across 36,000 head consigned to MSA during 2017-19.

Stevie’s advice to other producers who are managing cattle for market compliance is to never compromise on quality and make the most of the data provided through the MSA program.

“The data is only useful if you do something with it. It can be incredibly valuable to inform other areas of your farm business,” Stevie-Lee said.

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