As stock manager of a 1700ha Landcorp sheep and beef breeding and finishing farm in the heart of the King Country Carl Carmichael knows about beef production.
With a 60:40 sheep to cattle ratio, which includes some trading stock, Carl and his team are finishing 800-900 cattle every year and he understands what it takes to grow top-quality beef.
This year he will be extending his knowledge base to gain an insight into international production systems and an understanding of the challenges facing the beef industry globally by attending the International Beef Alliance (IBA) conference in Brazil.
Carl has been selected as a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Beef Industry Future Leader and will be one of three Ambassadors representing this country at IBA conference in late May.
He says he is particularly looking forward to seeing Brazil’s beef production systems; seeing how stock is managed, how beef is grown and what technologies and genetics are used.
Carl will also be sharing ideas with producers from the other member nations which includes Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, USA and Paraguay.
Amongst the challenges he believes are facing the beef industry internationally – as well as locally – are the threat from alternative proteins and environmental concerns.
In this country, Carl believes traditional winter cropping is an environmental challenge that the beef industry has to address, as traditional winter feed crops are causing concerns from both an environmental and animal welfare point of view.
“Seeing animals up to their bellies in mud is just not good.”
Similarly, alternative land use is an issue for the industry and this is about identifying and utilizing land not suitable for livestock production.
Carl was born and bred on a sheep and beef farm near Matiere – which happens to neighbour the Landcorp farm where he now works. After leaving school his father encouraged him to learn a trade and he did his apprenticeship as a builder, developing skills that have stood him good stead through his farming career.
“It taught me good people management as I was running my own crew but it’s also a handy trade to have around the farm although I don’t get much time to use my skills.”
While building he was also playing rugby semi-professionally playing 53 games for Taranaki.
Carl says he still can’t give up the game he loves and has been playing for King Country for the past four years.
As a rugby player, there are not too many towns in New Zealand he hasn’t visited, but going to the IBA will be his first real taste of international travel beyond the Pacific Islands.
As for his own career, Carl, who is married with three children, says the next step will probably be a farm manager’s role on a similar sized operation to where he is now – but land ownership is the ultimate long-term goal.
“I’m never going to give up on that one no matter how distant it seems to get.”
The International Beef Alliance represents 46% of global beef cattle production and 63% of global beef exports.