Prime Cuts, 30 September 2021

In this edition of Prime Cuts, we interview Robin and Del Hart, the husband-and-wife couple who founded Stockyard Beef.

From humble beginnings in 1958, the two love birds began on their journey within the industry, with a common goal to bring people together over an outstanding piece of beef.

Del and Robin began operations by breeding, raising, and feeding premium grain-fed Wagyu and Angus cattle from their property located at Jondaryan, on the famous Darling Downs.

It has evolved over the years, with Stockyard recently moving their Wagyu breeding operation to a property in Glen Innes, NSW.

“We began feeding cattle at our Berwick property in 1958, which had been in the family for five generations and was part of the larger property that I (Del) grew up on. It is the same feedlot site that operations continue on today!”

When Del and Robin began Kerwee Feedlot, it started as a 200 head feedlot, with the product going into local butcher shops in Toowoomba.

It then grew in 1973, with a sales and marketing team established at the birth of Stockyard Meat Packers, their beef brand, to fulfil Robin’s vision of exporting grain fed beef to the Japanese market.

“The business has continued to grow over the years. We originally based our headquarters in Brisbane CBD but since moved to near Brisbane airport to accommodate a warehouse to service our local restaurant and butcher shop trade.”

In 2021, Stockyard Beef can be found in award winning restaurants, leading hotels and amongst family and friends here in Australia and in over 20 international markets.

Both Robin and Del have been passionate about the meat and agricultural industry since a young age. Del grew up on ‘Prospect’, which included the site of Kerwee Feedlot, preferring to be out with the cattle or working on the property than inside buried in her schoolbooks.

Robin’s love for the land and the industry was inspired by a schoolteacher and continued to grow when he worked as a Jackaroo on Sanders Station in Central Queensland. He moved onto Elgin Downs and Twin Hills properties where he was appointed Station Manager at aged 20 and was introduced to Santa Gertrudis cattle, which he then went on to breed in his own operations.

Their dedication and passion for the industry has ensured their business has continue to grow and thrive over the past 63 years, evolving into a household name renowned for their high marbled, high-quality beef.

“We are Australia’s longest running, family-owned feedlot which is something we are really proud of. We are also very proud to have Australia’s most awarded beef brand, taking out the Royal Queensland Food and Wine Shows’ Champion Beef for the fifth year in a row.”

Over the next five years, Stockyard Beef is hoping to expand their wagyu breeding herd to 5,000 head, which is based on their property in Glen Innes, NSW.

Another major focus for the company is continued efforts towards sustainability.

Stockyard Beef recently embarked on Australia’s first agricultural sustainability-linked loan, which ties financing costs to five sustainability metrics around carbon emissions, animal well-being and people safety.

“Our sustainability-linked loan is a big step forward for us, helping to provide incentives to improve our operations. We are also working towards meeting the wider industry goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.”

Stockyard Beef currently has a team of over 65 employees working across their Brisbane officer and feedlot at Jondaryan. Del and Robin have always placed a huge emphasis on the importance of people over their 63-year history, valuing hard working staff who are at the heart of the business and carry their mission and passion forward.

“We are really pleased that we have been able to put together a team that have adopted our business principles and continue to uphold the high-quality standards we strive for in our product.”

As well as the business receiving many awards for their outstanding product, Robin has received an Order of Australia medal for his (and Del’s) efforts towards the betterment of the Australian beef industry.

This speaks to the ethos that the business and the family has – that a rising tide lifts all boats.

“If you are in an industry, you must contribute to it in a positive way and always be prepared to stand up and support it.”

Robin has passed this value and attitude onto his son Lachie, who has been instrumental within the meat industry, including his role as previous Chair of AMIC. He has also been heavily involved with the free trade agreement between Australia and Japan.

Stockyard Beef will continue to grow and thrive, according to Robin and Del, who believe it has a great future in the capable hands of the next generation.

The values and attitudes instilled within the business reflect its ability to adapt and provide an exceptional consistent product to ensure customer satisfaction.

When asked what advice these two veterans of the industry had for someone considering a career in it, they said: “It can be a tough industry and you need to have the right attitude to produce what you or more importantly your customer believes is a perfect product. It is demanding and can be unrelenting to achieve a consistent product. With that said, if you have a love for it, go for it and you will have success.”

Visit their website: stockyardbeef.com.au/