WHILE the paddock to plate movement has well and truly established its place amongst many South East Queensland restaurants and eateries, a local couple continues to hone their product to stay a cut above the rest.
Nestled atop the fertile mountains in the Border Ranges, the Carabeen Beef farm is a lush haven for cattle and farmers alike. Surrounded by temperate rainforest and rolling grassy pastures, the property provides beef producers, Tony Lomax and Anna Fearnley, the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of a busy lifestyle.
The couple runs two breeds of cattle - Angus and Bazadias - on their 130-hectare mountain top property at The Falls. And the cross between the two breeds has proved to be the perfect key to cracking a competitive market.
Tony and Anna saw an opportunity to harness the paddock to plate market back in 2012 and started out with an Angus-based herd, known for their quality and easily recognised product. However, being a small cattle enterprise, they quickly realised that it was essential for the business to be at the top of the game.
“To be successful, we had to offer beef of the highest eating quality using cattle which yielded well,” Anna said.
Thinking outside of the box, Tony and Anna took a risk that proved to pay off and introduced the Bazadias genetics into their Angus herd. The French breed, particularly noted for their finely grained, bright pink, lean, tender meat, has dramatically improved the quality of Tony and Anna’s product by ‘filling out the cuts’ on their 440-460kg 14-month old sale cattle.
“To our surprise and delight, our Bazadais/Angus cross cattle combined the best eating qualities of both breeds – finely grained, lightly marbled, tender beef with an even fat cover of 5 - 8mm when finished on grass,” Anna explained.
“The infusion of Bazadais tenderness raised the eating quality of our pure Angus beef to a whole new level as well as a win on kilos of saleable meat.”
Now supplying their premium grass-fed beef to numerous clients, including nose-to-tail restaurants, health-conscious families and self-declared foodies, Tony and Anna enjoy nothing more than sharing their love for their cattle and their quality product with the consumer.
“We really love our cattle and the challenge of developing a successful business by looking outside the square,” Anna said. “Tony and I love producing premium grass-fed beef of the highest quality.”
“And we love the fact we have been able to develop and nurture a one on one relationship between the farmer (us) and our city-based customers; to tell the story of farming where enterprise, quality and care, take pride of place.”
Carabeen Beef is run on strict ethical and sustainable practices, using stress-free handling methods, such as mustering on foot, to maximise the overall tenderness of the final product. For Tony and Anna, caring for the natural environment goes hand-in-hand with raising their cattle. The use of machinery equipment is kept to a minimum, weeds are controlled by hand cultivation and the pastures are maintained without chemicals and fertilizers.
As far as future plans go, Tony and Anna one day aim to eventually have a female Bazadais herd, allowing them the versatility to use Bazadais or Angus sires to produce pure Bazadais or Bazadais Angus cross cattle. For now, life on the farm keeps them busy, with work starting soon after dawn and ending at dusk.
“Everyday begins and ends with checking the cattle,” Anna said. “Their well-being is paramount and never compromised. Lots of TLC and stress-free handling - that’s our promise to our customers, our cattle and ourselves.”