Sus­sex ‘royal fam­ily’ ex­tends reign

Albany Extra - - News - Bob Gar­nant

Bri­tain may have a new duke and duchess but hon­ours go to WA’s own roy­alty — of Sus­sex cat­tle pro­duc­tion — the vic­to­ri­ous Sandy and Narelle Lyon.

“We are proud of our cat­tle­breed­ing her­itage,” Mr Lyon said af­ter his fam­ily was an­nounced the win­ners of the 2018 Har­vey Beef Gate 2 Plate Chal­lenge.

The Great South­ern farm­ing cou­ple, who run Wil­lyung Farms, were cel­e­brated in front of 190 at­ten­dees at an awards cer­e­mony held at Al­bany’s Cen­ten­nial Sta­dium last week.

Har­vey Beef own­ers Andrew and Ni­cola Forrest, who have spon­sored the chal­lenge since its on­set, view the com­pe­ti­tion as a win for con­sumers of WA’s home­grown beef. “The more re­spon­sive we are to our cus­tomers’ needs, the greater the chance of long-term sup­ply­chain suc­cess,” Mr Forrest said.

The pres­ti­gious chal­lenge event was recog­nised as a semi­fi­nal­ist un­der the State Gov­ern­ment’s 2017 Re­gional Achieve­ment and Com­mu­nity Awards.

In its fourth year, the chal­lenge com­prised 61 teams of cat­tle (two steers, one heifer) from 45 owner­bred pro­duc­ers, some with mul­ti­ple en­tries, whose out­come in the spe­cific grain-fed com­pe­ti­tion was weighed on point to­tals.

Mr Lyon, who runs the com­pe­ti­tion cat­tle in his Al­bany feed­lot, said the chal­lenge pre­sented an op­por­tu­nity to com­pare cat­tle on an equal level. “Af­ter en­ter­ing teams since its in­cep­tion and as first time over­all win­ners this year, we’re very hum­bled and gra­cious for the gen­er­ous prize but also pleased of how the com­pe­ti­tion brings in­dus­try to­gether which sparks shared knowl­edge,” he said.

Mr Lyon’s par­ents, Alis­ter and Doreen Lyon, of Wil­lyung Poll Sus­sex stud, Al­bany, took out the 2017 top chal­lenge ti­tle with a team of pure Poll Sus­sex cat­tle, so the breed’s back-to-back per­for­mance was highly noted.

“We out­put 2000 head of cat­tle an­nu­ally through our feed­lot with a quar­ter of those calves from our own Sus­sex cross breed­ing pro­gram, us­ing Wil­lyung blood ge­net­ics,” he said.

“De­rived from Bri­tish ori­gins, Sus­sex cat­tle, which are a dom­i­nant breed in South Africa, are ex­cel­lent to cross with Angus and larger-framed Charo­lais.”

The Lyons’ win­ning team of Angus cross Sus­sex scored 224.868 points, just un­der one point ahead of the run­ner-up team con­sist­ing of pure Li­mousin cat­tle. “It was a very close bat­tle at the top and we feel very for­tu­nate,” Mr Lyon said.

Re­flect­ing on his 17-year-old self, Mr Lyon said he had never looked back since re­turn­ing to the fam­ily farm af­ter his school years.

“I al­ways re­alised the po­ten­tial of my par­ents’ dream to utilise the low main­te­nance and good tem­per­a­ment of Sus­sex to build a sus­tain­able grain-fed sup­ply chain,” he said.

Pic­ture: Bob Gar­nant

Sandy and Narelle Lyon with their chil­dren Tommy, Zoe and Aimee at their Wil­lyung Farms cat­tle prop­erty.

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