Stanbroke is one of Australia’s leading vertically-integrated beef businesses. Its entire operation, comprising cattle herds, the stations on which they breed and graze, through to a feedlot and processing facilities, is owned and managed by second-generation members of the Menegazzo family – with managing director Brendan Menegazzo at the helm.
“I’ve been MD for 18 years, but working in the company for 27,” says Brendan. “I love the food production business, and I love beef, so I’m definitely in the right place!”
Overseeing their whole supply chain gives Brendan and his team the ability to control consistency and, ultimately, quality products.
Their approach and success did not happen overnight – it’s been decades of following strong family values, working hard, loving the land and investing to build what exists today.
“All this takes time – especially when you’re working with livestock and nature,” says Brendan. “But it’s worth it, because we’re here for the long haul.”
Managing director Brendan Menegazzo
Stanbroke grows and mills it s own grain feed
THE IMPORTANCE OF ENVIRONMENT
Today, Stanbroke owns and manages seven stations in northern Queensland (including Fort Constantine where cattle have been farmed since 1861). Covering 1.2 million hectares in total, these properties stretch across an expansive red dust-coated landscape that’s broken up by sweeping grass plains, forests, clapboard homesteads, termite mounds and a network of seasonal rivers (with the odd croc) that feed into the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Reliable annual monsoons replenish the farms’ water stocks, strengthen the fertile soil, and ultimately nourish the natural grass – ensuring this becomes nutrient-rich fodder for the company’s Wagyu herds. And given the stations’ far-flung locations – the environment is free of any sort of pollutants or contaminants. Evidence of this is undeniably clean air which allows for cornflower blue skies by day, colourful sunsets and clear views of the Milky Way at night.
Stanbroke’s properties in the Darling Downs region of southern Queensland – a verdant and renowned farming area – are where their cattle are moved to from the north for backgrounding. This is an important stage in preparing cattle to enter the feedlot. This means that any cattle following grain-fed programmes (more on this below) graze on even more luscious pastures, before transitioning to a home-grown and home-milled mix of wheat, barley, silage, hay, cotton seed and molasses.
Warrenvale Station is one of Stanbroke’s seven properties in northern Queensland
Wagyu and Angus cattle are grain fed for anything from 100 to more than 300 days at Stanbroke’s feedlot – this ensures excellent marbling
HOW DIET AFFECTS MARBLING
The level of marbling is greater in grain-finished cattle due to high energy rations, compared to animals that are fed solely on lower-energy pasture diets. And the longer the period an animal is grain-fed, the more tender and flavoursome the beef will be. Stanbroke’s Wagyu and Angus have different levels of marbling. Stanbroke’s primary production general manager, Brent Stevenson, explains how and why: “Our rations are formulated by our nutritionists and animal health scientists. For our Wagyu, we’ve formulated the best ration to give a low, slow burn for inter-muscular fat development – that’s the marbling you’ll see throughout our products. With our Angus cattle, we do the same, but it’s a hotter burn because they have a heavier metabolism. So, marbling will happen faster in Angus than with the Wagyu.”
STANBROKE AT SPINNEYS
We source Stanbroke’s Diamantina Wagyu, Angus and organic beef for our SpinneysFOOD brand. As mentioned, Wagyu is known for its high marbling and buttery flavour – both traits are maximised by Stanbroke as they feed their Wagyu cattle at the feedlot for over 350 days. Their grain-fed Angus may have more mild-medium marbling, but it offers a consistently delicious flavour and tender texture. And their organic grass-fed beef comes from cattle raised by methods that comply with the strict certification standards of organic farming.
The beef Stanbroke provides to Spinneys contains no hormonal growth promotants. “What we do is optimise the best genetics and the best nutrition to ensure the best performance and outcomes from our cattle and beef,” explains Brent.
Cattle are supervised by highly trained stockmen and women (who move the animals around the facilities on low motorbikes and horseback)
Cattle are only moved around by trained horsemen and women
Stanbroke’s ethos and approach to animal welfare is exemplary. The team is passionate about the correct treatment of the cattle – not only because the way the animals are handled directly affects and impacts the product, but also because they steadfastly believe that behaving in a humane and respectful manner is right.
In addition to roaming freely across the northern and southern Queensland pristine environments and feeding on only the best diets, the cattle lead stress-free lives across the board. They’re supervised by highly trained stockmen and women (who move the animals around the facilities on low motorbikes and horseback), monitored by qualified veterinarians and sheltered from potentially disruptive weather conditions.
From correct land management practices to solar panel systems, engaging local traditional rangers to implementing water recycling programmes, there are endless examples of how Stanbroke has and will always have sustainable approaches.
“As an intergenerational family-owned agricultural business, sustainability is part of our DNA,” says sales manager Mark Harris. “It’s what we’ve been doing for many, many years. We just haven’t spoken about it much and need to talk about it a bit more.”
With this in mind, the company is collating a sustainability index covering environmental, social/ethical and economical aspects. Given Stanbroke’s scope and scale – this is no easy task. “We need to consider sustainability over vast agricultural land, at a cattle feedlot and over our processing plant,” explains Mark. There are factors which are important to specific business units, but there are similarities running across our entire ecosystem, too.”
LEAVING A LEGACY
Brendan may have officially worked in the company for 27 years, but he started a lot earlier, getting involved as a child. “I probably started when I was 12 years old,” he says. “Any excuse not to go to school!”
He believes that having worked his way through the ranks has been hugely important. “Being able to understand every aspect of business has certainly helped me in the position that I am in now,” he explains. “Understanding what people do at all levels has been a great journey.” His 18-year-old son, Hugh, is currently working as a “jackaroo” on one of the cattle stations – it’s hard work but he’s loving it.
Is this Brendan’s succession plan? “The intention is for the kids to be involved if they choose to be,” he explains. “So far, they’ve all showed a lot of interest and enjoyment – so let’s hope we can keep our consistency rolling on.”
Spinneys General Manager of Commercial Tom Harvey says…
“Stanbroke is a hugely important supply partner of ours. They provide us with all our organic and Angus beef as well as Wagyu – our very best beef. We’ve had a wonderful partnership with Stanbroke for well over 12 years, and we hope there are many, many more years to come. Both our businesses have the same view of quality – and nothing is spared to make sure we deliver the best quality products for customers to enjoy at home.”