Meet the beef as island vision evolves

ANA Pimenta has a passion for farming and delights in showcasing to visitor high-quality King Island beef.

Meat your Beef is a project that started late 2015 in the north of King Island when Ana decided it was good time to put her social and cooking skills to the test while showcasing the farm, by doing guided tours of a working beef farm with a paddock-to-plate experience.

Ana started the beef enterprise Gado Management with Tom Perry in 2009. The business was built from the ground up, starting by leasing land and borrowing funds for the livestock.

They now own and manage about 800ha of land on King Island with an average herd of 2000 head, mainly black Angus.

Both hold master’s degrees in agriculture and animal production.

Ana grew up in Portugal where she attended university before moving to Australia in 2008.

Tom grew up on a cattle farm on King Island and travelled the world after completing university. Farming in Portugal is very different to Australia.

Apart from smaller holdings, farming in Portugal is generally more intensive with feedlots.

Ana said there was strong emphasis in animal nutrition and feed management.

“Farming in Europe is also dependent on subsidies, and it is fair to say that production systems are based more on the type of subsidies than on production,” she said.
“In Australia things are different, especially the southern systems that are pastured based.
“It was a steep learning curve for me to adapt to a pasture-based system, luckily Tom had strong skills in this area.”
“It took a lot of hard work, risk taking and strategy to get the business to where it is now.
“There’s a tendency to think that farmers are just people that handle stock and pasture and machinery but, in fact, farmers can be and are much more than that.” “Farming is such a diverse profession and it is science based. Everything about farming involves some level of science.”

Ana said growing good pastures requires a lot of science, animal genetics require a lot of science and running a business is a science in itself.

“On top of that farmers need to be hands on, have good instincts and most of all, need to be passionate about what they do.”

The Meat Your Beef program was created by Ana to demonstrate to the community what farming is all about and what it can look like.
“There’s a romantic view about farming, the beautiful and manicured driveways and gardens and the big Akubra hats,” Ana said.
“There’s also an idea that we need to feel sorry for farmers. I am trying to demystify that.”

The closest thing to an Akubra hat is a merino beanie: it can be windy and cold on King Island, especially out in the elements on a working farm.
“A good farm business relies on simplicity.”
“Keeping things simple has paid off for this business, but that’s not to confuse simplicity with a lack complexity.”
“Simplicity means not letting yourself be influenced by all the noise around you and keep the focus, educate yourself and make informed decisions.”
“Simplicity in business comes from prioritising things that are important, the effective and efficient use of resources.”

Animal welfare and environment are priorities as is using time, skills, and knowledge to get the best results.

Ana said during the tours, people could see how quiet and easy it was to handle cattle.
“Some say they are the happiest cows on earth. Happiness in cattle come from different things.”
“Basically, they need proper nutrition and shelter and they also need to be comfortable with us humans.”

The tours are open to anyone.

To complement the tour, there’s a paddock-to-plate lunch, cooked by Ana with her Portuguese influences.

“It is not fancy food but it is food from the heart, cooked with great ingredients and that feels just like home, that’s the idea.”
“It is not a restaurant; it is just a large table where conversations flow and people get to enjoy food that is local and fresh,” Ana said.

Covid has impacted on the agri-tourism side of the beef business.
“Luckily for us the beef industry is stronger then ever. While the business has been closed because of border closures, I had the opportunity to visit my home country to visit my unwell father,” Ana said.

She is now back with open eyes as to how to live with Covid.

“Portugal still has high levels of Covid infections, but deaths because of Covid have dropped considerably, all businesses are open, most of the population is vaccinated, masks are still mandatory,” Ana said.

Ana can’t wait to have people back in the farm, to meet new friends while doing the job she loves.

For more go to @meatyourbeef or visit http://www.meatyourbeef.com.au

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