Great Southern process flavours paddock to plate

Zach RelphCountryman
O’Meehan and Co owner Paul O’Meehan at his feedlot, near Borden.
Camera IconO’Meehan and Co owner Paul O’Meehan at his feedlot, near Borden. Credit: Zach Relph

At the foothills of the Stirling Range National Park, cattle are being fed in preparation to go from paddock to plate.

The rugged peaks synonymous with the Great Southern region provide a breathtaking backdrop to Paul O’Meehan’s Daniels Well feedlotting operation, which is gaining renown among WA’s chefs.

Although the eye-catching setting steals much of the Borden-based property’s limelight, Mr O’Meehan is tapping into the area’s fertile soils to keep his herd well-maintained.

Mr O’Meehan, with the help of his staff, crops about 11,500ha yearly mainly comprising barley, wheat, canola and lupins to sustain the farm’s hungry cattle herd, with about 10,500 head turned off annually.

Most cattle are sourced as weaners and remain in the feedlot for 60-90 days to improve meat tenderness and deliver an ideal carcass weight.

The Daniels Well feedlotting operation’s stunning backdrop.
Camera IconThe Daniels Well feedlotting operation’s stunning backdrop. Credit: Zach Relph

Ross Herring spearheads the business’ feed program, using lupins and barley as the primary nutrients to grow the cattle which are processed to become the O’Meehan family’s premium beef product.

The feedlot’s top-tier cut is aptly dubbed Stirling Ranges Beef in reference to the neighbouring stark cliff faces.

It is a grain-fed beef, processed by butcher Ryan’s Quality Meats’ Bunbury and Jandakot facilities.

Ryan’s Quality Meats are Stirling Ranges major distributor, with the product used at restaurants in Perth and throughout the Great Southern.

On April 2, about 30 chefs travelled to Mr O’Meehan’s feedlot operation ahead of Buy West Eat Best’s Plating Up WA event in June.

It provided chefs with an opportunity to step out of the kitchen heat and experience the Great Southern’s cooler climate, while gaining a greater understanding of the beef supply chain.

O’Meehan and Co owner Paul O’Meehan says it is an extended process to produce quality beef.
Camera IconO’Meehan and Co owner Paul O’Meehan says it is an extended process to produce quality beef. Credit: Zach Relph

Mr O’Meehan said the tour allowed chefs to experience the livestock finishing operation first-hand.

“It takes the producer about three years to get the product to me after they source the genetics and produce a calf,” Mr O’Meehan told the touring group.

“I have it for three months to get it right, (the butcher) has it for three weeks and you guys (chefs) have it for 30 minutes.

“If one of the processes isn’t done right, it can be a real disaster ... it is a long process to get it right on the plate for a customer.”

Chef Carl Ladiges was among the touring party.

Mr Ladiges, the head chef at Albany’s Venice Restaurant, praised Stirling Ranges Beef’s quality.

Stirling Ranges Beef has been used in the eatery’s dishes for about seven years with the restaurant using about 25kg of it weekly.

Mr Ladiges said the meat’s tenderness and local origins made it a logical choice for Venice’s menu.

“Finding a certain level of consistency can be hard,” he said.

“But the quality of the Stirling Ranges Beef is great.”

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