Commercial Angus producer Geoff White, Tatham via Casino, has an eye for quality breeding and intends to do next year what he has done since he was a boy - deliver better progeny.
So when he sourced a draft of Angus heifers to boost his breeding herd, he investigated the option of blockchain-verified animals that could prove their background through crypto-calculation.
A former detective and stock squad inspector, Mr White has farmed alongside his profession throughout his career and while he favours line breeding when crossing game bantam chickens, and has amassed an inter-state following in the process, he much prefers outcross when he brings new cattle home.
Along with blood from Texas and Wattletop there is Te Mania and Stern, plus Clarence-bred Coolarmagh and Brooklana from Dorrigo.
Last week he received delivery of two dozen heifers from the Mackenzie family, Macka's Beef, off their extensive Gloucester country. This mob came with a different ear tag and an unusual guarantee - one that could not be tampered with.
"I background heifers every year and I'm always on the lookout for replacements," Mr White said. "I'll join these heifers and calve them out, keep the best and sell off the others."
"At my age temperament is number one along with doing ability. Feed conversion off grass is very important along with fertility. They have to rear a calf."
Mr White's bull selection is for an older type, heavily muscled on a moderate frame. "I'm not keen on heavy cattle. Here on the coast they don't finish. And when I buy from the Tablelands I only select from the eastern fall," he said.
The son of his old agent, Blake O'Reilly at Ray White Guyra, suggested he consider Macka's Angus Verified heifers being offered on AuctionsPlus. Robert MacKenzie is an early adopter of this program.
Angus Australia's Liz Pearson can't hide her enthusiasm for the new program that has only been running for six months, and while there is no other year to compare it with, the data clearly points to increased prices paid for verified cattle.
"This is about fostering a culture; building confidence, trust and integrity around purebred Angus cattle," she said. "Integrity is important. This is valuable to the purchaser and to the producer, who sees the value in maintaining this program.
Ms Pearson said the idea for the program was hatched by a need from feedlotters and processors who were frustrated by other black hided breeds of cattle that performed under expectation and after 50 days on feed sometimes presented very different breeding lines than had been advertised at the point of sale.
Ms Pearson points to the critical fact of a calf's sire being proven when a computer fact check of the information stored in the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database shows a certain bull as being on the same Property Identification Code (PIC) as the producer's cows. This proven item is called an oracle and from many such truths a blockchain of information is constructed.
"Farmers take all the risk but don't always get rewarded," says Aglive CEO Paul Ryan, who has teamed up with Angus Australia to create the verified program.
"The good operators must be rewarded with a premium. This is about bringing value back to the farmers and integrity to the transaction."
Hunter Valley producer Barry Shearman, Fullerton Cover, Williamtown, topped recent Maitland sales two weeks in a row offering Angus Verified steers, one lot at 167kg making 838.2 cents a kilogram and another at 220kg bringing 786c/kg.
At a recent Maitland female sale he sold 10 Angus Verified heifers for $2000/hd which at an estimated weight of 210-220kg made 908c/kg
"This is about obtaining best quality breeders without paying stud price," he said. "You pay for what you get. If you put your money in the returns will come.
"I see it as the way of the future. If it brings an extra $50 a head then it's worth it.
"The key to the program and data entry is the NLIS and tag reader. I started learning the program at 60 years of age, it gets easier once you get used to it," he said.
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