Meet the 2018 Young Lot Feeder of the Year Award finalists.
For more lotfeeding stories, see the September Lotfeeding journal.
Fiona McDiarmid, Terence Vale Feedlot, Theodore
A typical day in the life of feedlot manager Fiona McDiarmid can include inducting livestock, mixing rations, managing animal health and cleaning troughs and pens, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Ms McDiarmid has been working at Terence Vale Feedlot, at Theodore, for the past three years.
She got hooked on lotfeeding while studying at Dalby Agricultural College, after growing up at Guyra, and moving to the city for high school.
Terence Vale Feedlot is a 500-head private family-owned feedlot, with 4850 hectares of backgrounding country.
“I love being busy, and the diversity of the jobs appeals to me,” she said.
“If we need forage planted, I’m getting on a tractor, and I also put lick out, spray and fence.”
It’s the 29-year-old’s third time as one of the finalists for the Young Lot Feeder of the Year Award, having made the top six in the past two years.
Ms Diarmid has already made invaluable connections through the competition, and said it was a great opportunity to network and learn from others.
“I’ve met a lot of people and been able to call them for advice, which is great.”
Her essay topic for this year, which focused on the potential use of camels to encourage good gut health in cattle, was a bit out of the box, but she said she’s always been interested in the nutrition side of the business.
“It’s based around bacterium in camels, and the possibilities to transfer good bacteria into cattle to stop lactic acid build up and improve digestibility of feed, enhancing feedlot production.
“If I win, I’d like to use the money for a study tour, to see how the industry operates overseas, and maybe bring back some ideas to use.”
Ben Attewell, Australian Country Choice Brindley Park Feedlot, Roma
Ben Attewell has been in the lotfeeding industry for 10 years, starting as a teenager at the Australian Agricultural Company’s Goonoo Feedlot.
“I really got into it by accident,” he said.
“I left school and got a job as a pen rider, then just worked my way up.
“I’ve been the feedlot manager at Brindley Park since the start of July, but I’ve been with the company since October 2015, and I was previously the manager at the Brisbane Valley feedlot.
Brindley Park has a capacity of 22,000 head and 36 full-time staff.
Mr Attewell said he like the intensity of working in a feedlot, and he works across all areas, including livestock, feeding, maintenance and administration.
“I enjoy managing these intensive operations and managing the people.”
He said he also liked that, as everything can be measured, you can make goals and work towards them.
“I like that if you make a change in the business today, you can see the outcome of that,” he said.
This year was his first time applying for the Young Lot Feeder of the Year Award.
“It’s something I always wanted to do, but hadn’t worked out the right topic, until now.
“My essay was on the true cost of induction shrink, which is an issue across the industry.
“Most people have a reasonable idea of induction shrink, but some haven’t worked out the cost to the business.”
Georgia Birch, Smithfield Cattle Company, Proston
IT’S Georgia Birch’s first time applying for the Young Lot Feeder of the Year Award, and the trainee manager is passionate about her essay focus – delivering useful data back to producers to streamline the beef supply chain, boosting profitability and sustainability.
Miss Birch has worked her way up from pen rider to trainee manager in the past 22 months at Smithfield Feedlot, Proston, after studying agricultural science at the University of New England.
She grew up on a cattle property at Tenterfield in northern NSW, and always wanted to be part of the beef industry.
“It wasn’t until I was at university that I recognised an opportunity in feedlots, because it’s an industry with a lot of growth, and we’re always going to have a demand for beef.
“There’s still a lot of growth within the industry, with technology coming out to improve efficiencies, and with new markets.”
Her essay topic – information sharing is the key to beef sustainability – focused on the ways to meet consumer expectations by providing detailed feedback to producers to improve their stock.
Miss Birch is passionate about integrating the grass-fed and grain-fed industries, and the need to report back to producers, to help with genetic selection and their farming practices.
“It’s about how we can give feedback to producers to help them give produce an article that’s profitable,” she said.
“In feedlots, we all have so much data that we collect that’s not used, but if we can get that back to our producers, reporting how each individual animal has killed, their average daily weight gain, meat colour, and marbling, that gives the producer more information to make decisions with their business.
“I’d like to see more integration between the breeders and feeders.
“I’ve got an appreciation for both sides, growing up with in my parents’ cattle business, but I’d like to get the whole supply chain working together towards one goal.”