Ross and Bethany Gibson with their children Rose, 4, and Angus, 2, run a Devon breeding herd, with Mr Gibson’s family having run the ruby red breed for five generations.
The family runs their breeding herd on a second property at Newton Boyd east of Glen Innes which includes about 350 head.
Weaner cattle are then bought to Delungra to be grown out and finished on grazing crops, including oats in the winter and lucerne during summer.
The Gibsons have started to sell Devon beef direct to the customer in the past 12 months, operating as Gibson Family Farm.
Mr Gibson said they had stuck with Devons for a few reasons.
“We’ve always had Devons and we’ve always been able to meet the market requirements,” he said.
“They can handle the temperature extremes from freezing at Newton Boyd to above 40 degrees at Delungra.
“They have the ability to do and perform on pasture.”
Mrs Gibson said one of the biggest qualities of the Devon breed was the quality of its meat, which was vital in the Gibson Family Farm business.
Since they started supplying beef direct to the consumer about 12 months ago business has grown, which sees Mrs Gibson driving to Sydney and Brisbane once a month to deliver the beef personally to clients.
“The customers like the personal touch of Bethany delivering the meat,” Mr Gibson said.
Mr Gibson said while the business was quite simple it did involve quite a bit of work.
“It’s a big commitment but we can’t afford to sit at home and be overtaken by the chicken industry,” he said.
“We just try to provide a quality product with good service.”
The cattle for the direct beef business, mostly steers, are grown out to yearlings at a weight of about 430 to 450 kilograms before being processed.
The carcases are then hung for 21 days to improve the meat’s tenderness, before being cut up and packaged by a local butcher.
The Gibsons placed a lot of emphasis on the quality of the genetics they use in their herd.
“We’ve been concentrating on producing quality cattle, purchasing the best Devon bulls possible, including the champion from the Sydney Royal last year,” Mr Gibson said.
As the Gibsons are supplying beef direct to the customer, it is important they do all they can to maximise the quality of the beef they sell.
“We focus on transport management and lifetime nutrition management, not letting the cattle suffer nutritional stress at any stage of their lives,” Mr Gibson said.
“With the beef operation, it is critical we manage stress during transport to prevent dark cutters.”
A part of this, and to improve the operation’s sustainability, the Gibsons undertake Elders Livestock Management System (ELMS) protocols in their operation.
“The ELMS protocols have totally revolutionised what we do,” Mr Gibson said.
“It’s contributed greatly to improving the farm’s sustainability and the feed efficiency and fertility of the cattle.”
Mr Gibson said the ELMS process started at weaning and was designed to supply the cattle with extra vitamins and minerals to assist growth and to reduce stress.
“Often pastuers won’t ever have everything cattle need in their diet so by using the ELMS protocols we’re doing more with the grass we have, which improves sustainability,” he said.
“The customers really pick up on the fact we are trying to be sustainable in what we do.”
To have a supply of cattle year-round for their customers, the Gibsons have two calving periods, in both spring and autumn.
“We’ve been able to move our joining period from 12 to nine weeks because of the increased of fertility from using the ELMS protocols,” he said.
The steers that aren’t processed for the direct beef sales are mainly sold into the feedlot market, while the heifers that aren’t kept as replacement breeders for the herd are sold to other producers.