Reputation beefed up

INDUSTRY LEADER: Michael Famularo of Blue Lake Station at Kongorong.
INDUSTRY LEADER: Michael Famularo of Blue Lake Station at Kongorong.

IT HAS only been in operation for three years, but Blue Lake Station at Kongorong is already building a reputation for supplying premium beef to the domestic market with a focus on environmentally sustainable production systems.

Proving it is one of the leaders in the market, Blue Lake Station’s owners Michael Famularo and business partner James Sackl of Golden Triangle Meats have been recognised for their efforts, receiving the 2017 Meat Standards Australia (MSA) Excellence in Eating Quality Most Outstanding Beef Producer award for South Australia.

The award recognised any production system, with the exclusion of accredited grainfed beef, which achieved the highest combination of compliance to MSA requirements and eating quality performance as represented by the MSA index.

Mr Famularo said a focus on breeding for temperament and ensuring low-stress handling in all operations were the key reasons their beef consistently met MSA minimum requirements and measures for top eating quality at processing.

“Our aim will consistently produce top quality beef for consumers while employing a sustainable system,” he said.

Currently running a Black Angus breeding herd on the property and an undercover feeding facility for finishing cattle, they have a medium term goal of establishing their own brand and integrated vertical supply chain that includes online sales to anywhere in the world.

Their aim at the moment is to turn off 1600 Angus steers annually from their own herd, bought in cattle and cattle that are contract fed for clients.

Mr Famularo said the most important factor affecting meat eating quality was reducing animal stress and at Blue Lake Station a keen watch was kept to gauge the stress levels of the cattle.

“To date we are meeting the requirements for MSA for meat pH and this has reinforced the value of using low stress handling, especially right before transport and providing cattle with extra minerals in the two weeks before they leave the property,” he said.

“It might be a cliche, but I think having happy cattle is the key to our MSA results.”

Mr Famularo said maintaining good herd health was also vital with all vaccinations kept up to date and mineral supplements provided to avoid any deficiencies.

“We joined Meat Standards Australia because we wanted a genuine, unbiased rating system to measure and monitor our cattle performance in meeting our expectations and those of the market,” he said.

“The MSA system identified where we are doing well – but if there is even an issue highlighted by the MSA results, we want to be able to trace that back to a particular feed or point in time.”

Mr Famularo said their aim for the future was to operate a fully sustainable production system for supply of premium beef – under the Blue Lake Station brand – to Australia and the world.

In order to do this, Blue Lake Station has built a state-of-the-art enclosed feedlot that is currently working towards accreditation with National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme (NFAS) so it will be able to produce beef under the Australian Standards for grainfed beed.

The feedlot holds 400 head with surrounding paddocks supporting the backgrounding of weaners.

According to Mr Famularo, the costs of fully enclosing the Blue Lake Station feedlot were starting to be recouped in superior weight gains by cattle.

Already, Blue Lake Station recycles and re-uses its effluent with absorbent bedding that is processed to compost, waste is recycled into protein for fish food and the feedlot uses solar power.