Rangers Valley, Glen Innes, named NSW's top grainfed beef producer at 2017 MSA Excellence in Eating Quality Awards in Tamworth

Rangers Valley managing director Keith Howe.
Rangers Valley managing director Keith Howe.

THE title of NSW’s most outstanding grainfed beef producer has gone to Rangers Valley, Glen Innes, at the 2017 MSA Excellence in Eating Quality Awards in Tamworth last night.

This was the second win for Rangers Valley, after its 2016 NSW MSA Producer of the Year award at the inaugural awards.

There were almost 100 registered producers in NSW who consigned grainfed cattle during 2015-17, making them eligible for the award.

This title recognises the operation for producing cattle eligible for Australian Grainfed Beef Standards, with high compliance to Meat Standards Australia (MSA) minimum requirements and consistently high eating-quality performance on the MSA Index.

It was open to producers with cattle consigned during 2015-16 and 2016-17 in each state and territory. 

Rangers Valley managing director Keith Howe said the MSA platform underpinned the company’s world-famous beef brands and enabled him to build stronger, long-term relationships with domestic and global customers.

Mr Howe said MSA’s science and practices ensure the ‘back end’ of the supply chain produces a consistent and premium product, and that gives him the freedom to work on the ‘front end’ of the business.

This includes customers in Australia and the 30 countries to which Rangers Valley’s beef is exported.

Jac Wagyu was named the state’s most outstanding beef producer at the awards night at Quality Hotel Powerhouse Tamworth.

Backgrounding settles

In Australia, Rangers Valley supplies MSA-accredited Angus beef to the Coles Finest program, turning off about 11,000 head annually for the brand from the company’s base north of Glen Innes.

Mr Howe said Rangers Valley sourced young Angus cattle from breeders throughout NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

“After being transported to Rangers Valley, the cattle are backgrounded in the feedlot’s surrounding paddocks and, depending on seasonal conditions, may be supplementary fed,” Mr Howe said.

“The cattle are backgrounded for a minimum of three weeks as part of a pre-conditioning program allowing the cattle to settle – and, very importantly, with their mob – before going into the feedlot to start their feeding term.”

Low-stress stock handling was key to Rangers Valley’s success in consistently producing cattle with high compliance rates to MSA.

Another animal welfare initiative was the installation of woodchip bedding in pens, to boost the comfort of their long-fed cattle during the year.

“Our livestock procurement strategy is also an important factor in driving ongoing improvements into our MSA scores – working directly with our producer network focusing on a younger animal then our long-fed program,” Mr Howe said.

“The cattle have well-bred genetics, good structural conformation and body condition before they start their 100-day feeding term.”

Pointers to eating quality

Mr Howe said the underpinning of the company’s brands with MSA standards has been critical to building a platform that beef producers and companies can use to their advantage.

“MSA science has transformed meat grading and instigated good supply chain practices like breeding for temperament, low stress handling and welfare in the feedlot,” Mr Howe said.

“All of these things are incremental in making up the eating quality of beef at the end.

“We work with very good producers to provide us with the genetics and deliver the cattle at the starting weight we require, when we want them. It takes a lot of collaboration.”

Rangers Valley, which is owned by Japan’s Marubeni Corporation, also exports grainfed Wagyu and Angus beef under its brands including Black Market, Black Onyx and WX to China, South Korea and European countries including France, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland and Finland.

Rangers Valley has approximately 40,000 cattle on feed, with 80 per cent of those going to supply the export beef market.