When most people select beef they are concerned only with cut and price. “But cattle breeder Matthew Arkinstall of Rathdowney Blondes relies heavily on science to choose his beasts.
Matthew and his family raise a breed of cattle called Blonde d’Aquitaine on their Rathdowney property.
The breed hails from Europe and produces a fine-textured meat, with very little fat, which means customers get more meat for their dollar.
But not only is the meat supply plentiful, the breed is also very efficient – that is each cow requires less feed to produce more meat. “And you don’t have to take Matthew’s word for it … he has the scientific results to back it up.
After school Matthew studied Information Technology at university. After uni Matthew returned to the family farm and about two years ago he used his computer skills to design a computer program and camera set-up which scientifically records just how efficient the blondes are.
“Myself and another breeder, Warren Drynan, developed a feed efficiency test station, that’s how we know our meat is efficient,” says Matthew.
“It’s located about 5km up the road. We test our bulls for feed efficiency. They require less feed to put on the same amount of weight as other breeds. “We test by putting the bulls into a pen for a 21-day trial period. They are fed a ration during that time. The feed bin sits on a set of scales and there’s an electronic tag reader inside the feed bin. It reads the tag each time the cow comes to eat and we also know the weight of the grain bin. So we are able to trace which animal ate how much.”
Matthew runs a herd of about 180 on his 400-acre farm. He supplies beef to butchers in Beaudesert and Rathdowney.