Data and collaboration – the secret to award-winning beef

For Darren Hamblin, data is the secret weapon in the race to award-winning cattle genetics – a race he has arguably won.

Darren Hamblin MasterbeefDarren Hamblin

At first glance, Stockyard’s long-term suppliers, Darren and his wife, Melanie Hamblin’s beef grazing operation in Central Queensland, looks like any other. However, for the past 20 years they have built data-tracking software and intensely recorded the performance of their Wagyu herd.

The result? Darren can now accurately predict the performance of his cattle long before they are even born, all using his platform MasterBeef.

MasterBeef is an app-based software that collects livestock data – from carcass performance to genetic information – and then, using artificial intelligence, uncovers trends that inform better breeding decisions.

The ultimate goal is to refine breeding to custom produce carcasses that satisfy market specifications every time, Darren said.

“We would collect more data than most but information, particularly pedigree and carcass data, is such a powerful tool.

“I use 11 different databases that feed into the platform. Most which people either don’t use or don’t even think of as a valuable source of information like NLIS and NEOGEN genetic database.

“Once you have all that information it makes it easier to decide.

“The idea started about 10 years ago but was ahead of its time and wasn’t widely adopted,“ Darren reflected.

But his tenacity is raining gold.

After supplying the animal that secured Stockyard’s fifth Grand Champion Branded Beef at The Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show earlier this year, Darren has doubled down, winning the Wagyu Challenge in The Royal Queensland Show’s Paddock to Plate 2021 last week.

All of Hamblin’s latest success can be attributed to a single Wagyu fullblood bull Moyhu D 507. The same bull which has secured 4 out of 4 wins in the same award for the producer.

Stockyard Managing Director lachie Hart holding the A W A gold award
Lachie Hart hold the Australian Wagyu Association Gold Award
It was also Hamblin’s genetics derived from the same sire that secured Stockyard gold in the Australian Wagyu Association’s branded beef competition.

Hamblin and Stockyard’s partnership has spanned over a decade. His data-driven attitude to genetics has attributed Stockyard’s consistent and high-quality Wagyu performance.

According to Darren, this supply chain relationship is embedded in performance feedback and data-sharing.

“I have a deep respect for Lachie. He is one of few in the industry who isn’t afraid to share information. This is a non-negotiable for me”.

Hamblin also joined Stockyard’s Kerwee Feedlot’s ground-breaking feed efficiency trial when it was first launched in 2016. The trial filled a missing piece of Hamblin’s genetic puzzle – uncovering those genetics with strong marbling and growth propensity also largely result in feed efficient cattle.

Collaboration is a pillar of the supplier relationships that Stockyard value the most.

“For us, it is about establishing supply relationships where year after year our quality brand can grow and part of that success lies in collaborating with our suppliers to improve genetic performance,” said Stockyard’s Managing Director, Lachie Hart.

It’s not just producers and lot feeders that are reaping the benefits, ultimately consumers are the real winners.

The collaboration between two data-driven organisations results in a beef product that is superior, more consistent and can be produced more sustainably.

“Our relationship with the Hamblin’s means we can run a more efficient feedlot, our customers receive a more consistent and higher quality product, and we can share profits with suppliers that are excelling. It’s a win-win-win,” said Lachie.