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Terra Rossa Beef

Terrarossa Beef delivers stability to South East producers

Story and photo by Kate Dowler, August 2006
(cattle) Photos courtesy Yerwal Estate

SOUTH AUSSIE branded meat “Terrarossa Beef” has kicked some major goals in its second year, getting snapped up from shelves of gourmet butchers and selected from menus of high-class restaurants in Southern and Eastern Australia.
Terrarossa Beef is a brainchild created between Andrew and Maxine Maney’s Margaret Street Meats, Mt Gambier and Dalriada Meats, Keith and drawing on livestock from some of the South East premier producers.
Waving the flag strongly for the South East and its produce, Andrew Maney has been instrumental in getting the brand airborne and widely promoted.
And justifiably he is wrapped with the brand’s recently performance in meat competitions.
Terrarossa Beef outmuscled eight of the nation's heavy hitting beef brands to win the Royal Queensland Show taste testing competition.
Each of the nine commercial MSA graded brands were judged along conventional taste panel testing lines, based on tenderness, juiciness, flavour and overall liking, with the strip loins roasted and grilled.
QLD Nolan’s Meats' Private Selection yearling grain fed product was second and longfed product Stockyard Gold from the Stockyard feedlot at Jonduryan, Qld placed third. This recent award compliments the silver medal won in the 2005 Spring Sydney Royal Fine Food Show.
Margaret Street Meats - established 15 years ago by Andrew’s parents Maxine and the late Jim Maney - was one of the first Meat Standards Australia accredited processors in South Australia and Dalriada was the first MSA approved abattoir.
The businesses joined forces, seeing the opportunity that would come from pool their resources and because neither processed enough cattle in a short period of time to secure the continuity of supply that is crucial to building demand for and buyers of a product.
“And we had the same philosophy, had MSA accreditation and source cattle from the same areas,” Andrew said.
The Terrarossa Beef label, which only uses beef graded 1 or 2 under MSA, was launched in March 2005, and with a hand lent by Meat & Livestock Australia.
“We always want to progress in our business, and get some of this fantastic product that’s produced in our region out to more people,” Andrew said. “I went to a MLA seminar and the message was about getting more branded beef out on the market so we took it from there.”
Much thought was put into a name for the new business.
Andrew says he was looking for something that people would remember.
“And one that had an emphasis on the area where we are and where we source the stock from,” he says.
MLA suggested “Terrarossa Beef” and Andrew thought this fitted the bill perfectly.
“The highly fertile soils of this area of perfect for producing high quality grapes, and fattening lines of high quality cattle too,” he said.
“And red wine goes well with good steak so we thought; why not promote this as a whole – in terms of marketing we can learn much from the wine industry.”
Andrew’s brother Darren Maney works for Thomas DeGaris and Clarke stock agents at Penola and sources the cattle for the brand, from producers like Regan Burow, Lucindale.
Regan supplies up to 300 cattle per year, mostly Red Angus/Simmental crosses.
“We get the marbling from the British breed (Red Angus) and the high yielding muscling from the European breed (Simmental) – it’s the best of both worlds,” Andrew said.
Other breeds used to supply the brand include Angus and Hereford but Andrew said they are not overly fussed about specific breeds, as long as the meat produced makes the grade, literally.
At the moment the brand has about 20 suppliers but are willing to take on more, providing they fit the tight criteria for MSA grading and weights.
“We source from right around the perimeter of the wine industry,” he said.
Another supplier, Murray Jones at Keith, finishes cattle on 70-80 grain days. But here the cattle also have access to barley straw.
“So we get the marbling but also the finish, while retaining the taste factor,” he said.
“Cattle that spend say 120 days on grain, like in Queensland, can lose taste when they spend that long on grain. Down here in the South East we are really in the lucky country, we have the right pastures and climate and right breeds of cattle to do the job right.”
He concedes that cold winters can be tough in the temperate zone but in these situations grain finishing helps to ensure the all-important consistency.
Sourcing from a variety of properties does present a challenge to ensure consistency of the Terrarossa Beef products but it also allows for flexibility.
“Our suppliers know from Darren what our criteria is and that we just won’t put rubbish through, it has to be A1,” he said.
Andrew’s focus is firmly on producing premium quality articles from the top two MSA grades and is proudly parochial and passionate about the end product.
“We’re passionate about local graziers - supporting them - and keeping as many local people employed,” he said. “SA MSA graded, home-grown product, is far better than the article grown interstate, I believe.”
Underdone cattle from SA can end up heading for QLD to be finished on grain, but Andrew says he would like to see more cattle from this area finished and processed here.
Terrarossa Beef products are being sold through wholesaler Holco Meats into the Adelaide and wider South Australian market and to buyers in Brisbane and Sydney.
Next on the hit list is the Melbourne and Victorian markets.
“But I’m a great believer in doing things stage by stage, getting the quality right and marketing it,” Andrew said. “At the end of the day it’s all about the name behind it. It’s a quality, not quantity article. I am passionate about Terrarossa Beef and believe we produce we produce the best beef in this area – I love this area and the cattle.”

FOR Lucindale producer Regan Burow supplying Terrarossa Beef has given this commercial cattle producer and stud breeder a secure, consistently good price for his highly regarded cattle.
Regan and his family own 600 hectares between Lucindale, Penola and Naracoorte – in the heart if the South East - where you will find some of the best cattle grazing country in southern Australia.
Sadly, the Burow property is now surrounded by blue gum plantations, making expansion near impossible for the family and many like them, now hemmed in by the encroaching timber industry.
The timber plantations that now stand on previously highly productive grazing country have also skyrocketed land prices on remaining grazing country.
Cattle numbers in the region have dropped following expansion of the blue gums and many landowners are concerned that groundwater levels will also drop, although studies are yet to confirm if this is likely.
Regan, wife Karen and father Trevor run 500 breeding cows on their property with three studs under the Yerwal Estate banner. They have about 350 Simmentals, 80 Angus (are members of the Angus Performance Breeder Group) and 30 Red Angus, producing all up 50 bulls per year.
Suppliers of Margaret Street Meats for six years, Regan says supplying the branded beef product is an invaluable opportunity as it aligns the family and their animals with reputation for high quality.
“It also ensures the expense we outlay for feeding cattle grain is rewarded and we get the premium prices, over and above what we’d get if we put them straight into the market,” he said.
“Branded beef is an advantage because it ensures the beef’s tenderness and that it is quality assured and the quality of our cattle and meat’s eating quality becomes well known.”
The Burow’s turn off 10-13 month-old cattle, weaned onto grain. “They are in 10 acre paddocks, it’s not like they are locked up for a long period,” he said.
Pastures on Yerwal Estate are sub-clover, ryegrass and phalaris. Although the season has been an average one for the area the cattle are maintaining reasonable condition.
“But we’ll need a good spring,” Regan says, echoing the thoughts of hundreds of other farmers in the region.
At the moment 18 animals are sold to the Terrarossa label weekly, all MSA accredited, at an average dressed weight of 285-290 kilograms for which the Burow’s receive about $1000/head.
“We were looking for a market for our vealers and thought our cattle should be worth more than what we were getting through the market,” he said.
“Dad rang the butcher and we sent a test line and every one has gone through there since.”
Of these 70 per cent are purebred Simmental, 25pc are Simmental/Angus and Simmental Red Angus cross and the remainder Red Angus and Angus cross.
Regan says the purebred British beef fatten quicker than the Simmental, but this breed lays down more muscle. He says they have to be selective with their genetics to ensure they get the right balance of muscling and fat in all three breeds and the subsequent crosses.
“The heifer portion of the Simmentals hangs up as well as the steers,” he said.
Maintaining consistent, high quality production is managed by ensuring the cattle are fed at the right amounts and by selecting the right genetics.
The Burow’s complement their cattle income with a 100-sow piggery and 200 acres of irrigated pasture.
“The biggest challenge in future will be managing the changing seasons – we have several below average ones on the trot – and dealing with higher prices for fuel and transport,’ Regan said.
On the flipside Regan sees a strong future for the seed stock industry and opportunities to future improve genetic options. And, of course in the future potential of the growing Terrarossa Beef label and promotion of the region where it’s produced.

Footnote from Regan...locally Terrarossa Beef is available at Tender Cuts Butcher, in Ormerod Street, Naracoorte.

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