OUR BEEF WIN­NER

In­no­va­tor hon­oured with schol­ar­ship

Central Queensland News - - FRONT PAGE - Aden Stokes Aden.Stokes@cqnews.com.au

A BEEF pro­ducer from Cen­tral Queens­land has been recog­nised as one of Aus­tralia’s agri­cul­tural in­dus­try in­no­va­tors.

Re­becca Comiskey was one of five Queens­land re­cip­i­ents to re­ceive a Nuffield Schol­ar­ship with sup­port from The Yulgilbar Foun­da­tion. Mrs Comiskey said she was hum­bled to re­ceive a Nuffield Schol­ar­ship.

“It has been a very hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence – to be around so many great minds and con­ver­sa­tions,” she said.

Mrs Comiskey said she would use her schol­ar­ship to re­search strate­gies on how to best in­cor­po­rate mod­ern tech­nolo­gies to ac­cel­er­ate the rate of ge­netic gain in beef busi­nesses and en­hance key profit driv­ers such as fer­til­ity, mar­ket com­pli­ance and pro­duc­tion ef­fi­cien­cies.

Her ex­pe­ri­ence as co-op­er­a­tor of Mel­ton Graz­ing, an 8500ha cat­tle busi­ness near Al­pha, has led Mrs Comiskey to fo­cus on rig­or­ous breeder man­age­ment, mar­ket­ing and im­prov­ing the eat­ing qual­ity of cat­tle sold.

While her fo­cus has been run­ning a prof­itable busi­ness, Mrs Comiskey also holds a phi­los­o­phy of “work­ing with na­ture” and us­ing cat­tle to im­prove soil and wa­ter health and is keen to dis­cover emerg­ing meth­ods for im­prov­ing the pro­duc­tiv­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity of beef busi­nesses.

“Rig­or­ous herd man­age­ment has been a key fo­cus and we have no­ticed many im­prove­ments,” she said.

“How­ever, a yearly prob­lem is en­coun­tered in sourc­ing bulls that match our man­age­ment and breed­ing ob­jec­tives to en­sure ge­netic gain is oc­cur­ring. My cu­rios­ity around ge­nomics or pulling a tail hair to fur­ther learn about an in­di­vid­ual beast is why I de­cided to ap­ply for a Nuffield Schol­ar­ship.

“If we can’t mea­sure it, we can’t man­age it, and I am ex­cited by the ben­e­fits open to pro­duc­ers through tech­nolo­gies like ge­nomics, that can pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on hard to mea­sure traits and en­able more tar­geted seed­stock se­lec­tion.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to ex­plor­ing beef pro­duc­tion meth­ods around the world and learn­ing more about the op­por­tu­ni­ties that bet­ter data and mod­ern tech­nolo­gies can bring to our in­dus­try.”

Mrs Comiskey will travel to Ire­land, South Amer­ica, the United States and South Africa to re­search busi­nesses that are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing rapid ge­netic progress to meet breed­ing ob­jec­tives.

“The bur­sary will al­low me to travel abroad, where I hope to learn from other beef busi­nesses and in­dus­tries such as dairy as they have been us­ing ge­nomics, as to what has been ben­e­fi­cial and also take note of what has not been suc­cess­ful,” she said.

As a group, all 2019 Nuffield Schol­ars world­wide will meet in Iowa, USA for the Con­tem­po­rary Schol­ars Con­fer­ence in March next year. From there, Mrs Comiskey will travel with a group of schol­ars to Africa on a planned global fo­cus pro­gram look­ing at agri­cul­tural busi­nesses.

I’m look­ing for­ward to ex­plor­ing beef pro­duc­tion meth­ods around the world

— Re­becca Comiskey

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

NUFFIELD SCHOLAR: Beef pro­ducer Re­becca Comiskey.

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