Sonya Comiskey and her husband, Geoff, run commercial Bazadais cross cattle alongside their French Bazadais stud, which boasts the world’s first homozygous polled purebred Bazadais bull.
They are part of a broader family business which includes more than 6,000 head run on 24,281 hectares across three properties in Central Queensland.
Sonya and Geoff are focused on a cross breeding program incorporating superior French Bazadais genetics. Additionally, they operate a Bazadais cattle stud breeding for ourselves, fellow commercial cattle producers and the stud market.
“We're proud to be Central Queensland cattle producers working to manage our herd and the property sustainably and responsibly with an emphasis on animal welfare and pasture management,” Sonya said.
“We consistently turn off commercial cattle that rank better than national average in the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) grading index.”
Whilst currently engaged in strategic and succession planning, Sonya said their business is looking to develop a branded beef product based on heritage, provenance and sustainability in a move away from traditional commodity based trading.
And thanks to a Nuffield Scholarship supported by Rabobank, Sonya will be travelling the world in 2018 to examine co-operative models and innovation in beef supply chains.
She will be investigating the use of effective branding to attract a premium based on the consumer’s perceived value of the product and its provenance as opposed to merely selling beef as a commodity.
“… in order to realise the full opportunities of ‘paddock to plate’ branding, producers need to understand the nuances of different markets …”
Sonya said there has been little support available for mid-size producers wanting to take a branded product to market and she believes her study topic will take steps to address these knowledge gaps and help producers through this often complex and risky process.
“There is a growing appetite for producers to transition towards a more vertically integrated business, which is based on the principles of best practice, certification and innovation,” she added.
“But in order to realise the full opportunities of ‘paddock to plate’ branding, producers need to understand the nuances of different markets – both domestically and abroad – and changing consumer trends.
“The Nuffield Scholarship opens up a significant opportunity to collate information and develop a framework which enables farmers to fully understand the pathways available in the beef value chain.”
Sonya will examine successful branding, co-operative models and innovation occurring in beef supply chains throughout North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy and, most notably, France.