When Aimee Young’s mum urged her to sell the last cow she was keeping on the family farm, she had no idea the business venture that would follow.
“I’d moved to Brisbane seven years before and had one cow left on mum’s property,” explains Aimee.
“She’d been nagging me to get rid of it.”
Aimee took the cow to the sales but the prices were so bad she decided it made more sense to have it killed and butchered herself and share the meat among friends and family.
The reaction to her fresh beef was incredible and inspired Young Farmers, a paddock to plate business run by Aimee, her boyfriend Simon Harradence and her brother Carl.
“Everyone loved it and said ‘This is amazing, you have to do this again,’” says Aimee.
“They loved knowing where their beef was coming from – that was a the big thing. They knew they were eating locally-produced beef that came from our farm.”
Aimee realised the idea for a farm to fork business was a good one but she’d just sold her last cow and was working in Brisbane as a personal trainer and health coach.
Fortunately her brother Carl, 27, was managing a cattle property called Wirraway, just outside of Beaudesert.
Carl agreed to supply the beef and that’s how Young Farmers began.
They started selling boxed beef and sausages within their local community and word soon spread. Online orders began streaming in and Aimee and Simon recently started selling via the New Farm Markets as well.
Aimee hopes that as well as promoting the benefits of eating local and eating grass-fed beef she will also encourage a revival of nose to tail eating.
“I got that from my grandmother, she used to love the organ meats,” says Aimee.
“A big thing for me is that my family taught me not to waste food. Being able to use the whole body is really important. We put a small portion of every part of the cow into the box and sell it. We package the bones and give them as dog bones, there are bones for broth and the organ meat is sold on request as pet mince. We also sell the tongue, which looks off-putting but done well can be really tender – a bit like corned beef.”
Carl and Aimee were raised on a chicken farm at Hillview, near Beaudesert and while Aimee hasn’t stayed living on the land, Carl has.
After school Carl headed to northern Australia to work on large cattle properties and learn more about raising beef.
He says the future is in paddock to plate companies that sell direct to customers and can ensure a high quality product that’s been ethically raised.
“From a producing point of view the big difference is I have to be mindful that each animal I’m putting on the plate stacks up to grade,” Carl explains.
“When you’re selling through the sale yards you don’t know what the cattle are like until you take the hide off them. I put a great emphasis on standing behind the product – I’m always going to the abattoir to look at the carcasses and make sure I’m hitting the right goals.
“I can control everything from paddock to feed to nutrition and then from there I engage with and work closely with butchers and processors to make sure what I’m doing at my end is following through to their end.
“It’s a really good thing to be able to give consumer your own product and stand behind it.”
Paddock to Plate:
Consumer driven: I’m a personal trainer and health coach and am connected through quite a few gyms in Brisbane. I’ve found people are more interested now in the sustainability of their food. They want to know how ethical it is – how enjoyable the cow’s life has been
Nose to tail eating: Our family taught us not to waste food and for us being able to use the whole body of beef is really important.
Sausages: Our signature product is a 10kg box of mixed cuts. We work with a butcher at Graceville to create a sausage that’s just like a steak, but is shaped like a sausage. We’re really health conscious and like to keep our food really simple. There’s no preservatives, no gluten, no additives – just beef.
Animal welfare: There’s a real movement now of people aware of how animals are treated. I tell people that they don’t have to go vegetarian to stay health and it’s a shame some people see farming in a bad light. We make sure our animals have been treated fairly, have space to roam and are ethically raised.
Wirraway: This property is at Biddaddaba and can carry up to 500 head of cattle. We have more country at Boonah where we run another 200 head.
Variety: We run Murray Greys and Droughtmasters but we’re pushing towards Murray Grey-Wagyu composites to produce a really top line of eating cattle.
Rewards: Selling a paddock to plate product is more time consuming but also more rewarding. There’s a lot involved, from managing everything right through the process. A lot of consumers want to know the story and the journey of where their food comes from and that they’re helping the producer directly. Paddock to plate offers that and I see huge potential for growth.
Grass fed: There’s a different taste to the meat. It’s not that it’s better than grainfed, it’s different. There’s a different taste, a different texture and a different colour fat. In most areas of Australia it’s harder to produce a consistent grass-fed product.