DROUGHT has prompted a shift in focus for Greg Scurr, who this year has set up a paddock to plate business, supplying the local butcher and a restaurant at Texas, Queensland.
Mr Scurr, principal of Tahlan Poll Herefords, decided to diversify his operation in response to the long dry spell, as he was forced to destock all his commercial cattle.
He started supplying Poll Hereford beef to Texas Butchery in December, and added the family-run Texas Motel to the program a few months ago.
The Scurr family owns the butchery and Tahlie's restaurant, which serves a range of cuts, including sirloin, t-bone, rump and rib eye.
"We're trying to keep a handle on every part of the operation and limit the need for middle men," Mr Scurr said.
"We had identified this as an opportunity a while ago but the dry weather forced us into it a bit earlier
"We've downscaled our cattle operation, back to just the 200 stud breeders.
"We were running 500 cows before this drought, and we've had to destock all commercial cattle."
Mr Scurr was targeting high end coastal butcher shops previously, with his commercial steers and heifers being finished on crop in a good year.
"We started the stud in 1998, but for a long time the bulls were secondary to the commercial operation."
Heifers and steers that don't make the cut for stud production go into the paddock to plate program.
"We like to get them to about 250 kilograms dressed, so liveweight, from about 480kg to 500kg.
"We have a small opportunity feedlot and some irrigated oats. It's not a big area, but it's better than nothing."
It's a whole family operation, with Mr Scurr and his wife Heather managing the business, son Lachie handling the farm, and daughter Tahlia managing the motel and restaurant.
Mr Scurr supplies a couple of bodies each fortnight, with the cattle processed at Millmerran before being delivered to the local butchery.
- Quality line up from Courallie J
- Glen Innes sires fit for stud, commercial use
- Top quality whiteface cattle at Glen Innes
"The best cuts - sirloin, t-bone, rump and rib eye - go into the restaurant and local supply soaks up the rest," Mr Scurr said.
"The feedback from the butcher has been very good, and we're becoming known for the steaks in the restaurant.
"Texas is a very friendly little town, with a lot of grey nomads stopping to camp on the river, and we had people from Melbourne who had heard how good the meat was.
"We also supply boner cows for mince and sausages as well, but some of those are also grading very well with no excess trim."
To ensure continuous supply they've chosen to source beef - also pure Hereford - from Scott and Libby Glasser, Yagaburne Beef, Goondiwindi.
"At this stage we can't supply the lot, but we wanted to keep it Hereford beef," Mr Scurr said.
"We've always been carcase conscious in the stud, and that's really paying off now that we're seeing the end results.
"Yagaburne have been doing the same over a number of years."
The Scurr family is returning to the Glen Innes Hereford Bull Sale this year.
Tahlan Poll Herefords has six bulls - Tahlan National N052, Tahlan Naiades N051, Tahlan Navigator N034, Tahlan Notorious N046, Tahlan Nitro N014, Tahlan Now Or Never N027 - on offer.
Lachie's stud Lachdale Poll Herefords, who had the grand champion bull at last year's Dubbo Poll Hereford National, has Lachdale Nostalgia N003 in the catalogue.
"We used to sell at Glen Innes in years gone by, but we went away from it as we had our own on-property but we're back in after downsizing stud numbers," Mr Scurr said.