Lambpro breeding manager wins Zanda McDonald Award

LAMBPRO breeding manager and aspiring farm owner Rozzie O’Reilly has won the prestigious Zanda McDonald Award.

And the 28 year-old is hoping the award can help her learn from other industries and get her closer to owning some land for the lamb and beef operation she operates with her fiancé.

As breeding manager for Australia’s largest prime lamb seedstock business, Rozzie is responsible for managing the database for more than 6000 performance recorded Lambpro stud ewes, co-ordinating staff and day-to-day activities, and providing numerous client services. The first class honours Bachelor of Animal Science graduate also runs a sheep and cattle business on agistment and lease country with her fiancé John McKenna.

“The first thing I want to do is learn from other industries and what drives their profits and see if we can bring that back into the lamb industry,” she said.

“You can learn so much from looking outside the box – by looking at beef, dairy, venison, whatever it is – we can learn from others.”

Despite being faced with the current climate of high land prices, Rozzie said she and John had a goal of buying their own farm within the next five years. They currently run 500 ewes and 35 Shorthorn cows. The couple are due to get married in two weeks.

Rozzie quoted recent land sales in her area of $9000/acre for an 1100 acre property with little infrastructure and requiring re-fencing, but adjacent to a family-owned cattle seedstock operation. Another 5000 acre property sold for $6000 an acre.

“How do we get in and buy our own country when land prices are so high?

“There are challenges ahead.”

Rozzie said she thrilled to receive the award, and is particularly excited about spending time with members of the PPP Group, the network of over 150 of Australasia’s influential agri-business men and women, of which Zanda McDonald was a foundation member.

“I feel completely overwhelmed and honoured to win this award.

“I’m really excited about the insights I’ll get into some of the best agriculture companies in the industry, and how I can apply these learnings to further benefit the industry,” she said.

She thanked the award’s sponsors for their support.

The professional development package going to the award winner includes an all-expenses paid trans-Tasman mentoring trip to high-performing farms and businesses in Australia and New Zealand, professional media training, $10,000 towards further education, and other networking opportunities. Rozzie will travel by a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft during her mentoring trips, enabling her to reach diverse and remote farming operations on both sides of the Tasman Sea.

Judges were impressed with Rozzie’s commitment

Zanda McDonald Award chairman Richard Rains said Rozzie is a warm, personable and intelligent individual.

“As judges, we were extremely impressed with her commitment, achievements and dedication to her role and the wider industry.

“She applied for the award a few years ago, and rather than being knocked back, has since made great strides in her career, and come out on top,” he said.

Mr Rains said Rozzie’s aspirations are strong and well-aligned with what the award can provide her by way of mentoring.

“We can’t wait to see what’s next in store for Rozzie and helping to take her career to the next level through the opportunities that the award provides.”

Other finalists in the 2021 award were fellow Australians Hugh Dawson, 22, the head stockman at Barkly Pastoral Company in the Northern Territory; Oli Le Lievre, 28, a consultant at KPMG in Melbourne and Founder of Humans of Agriculture, and; Tim Emery, 35, a technical officer with Tropical Beef Technology Services at the Agricultural Business Research Institute in Roma.

The award would normally crown one winner from across Australasia, but in response to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, in 2021 there will be an Australian and a New Zealand winner. The NZ winner will be announced at a separate celebration in NZ in April.

The award is sponsored by Allflex, Australian Community Newspapers, CBRE Agribusiness, MDH, MSD Animal Health, Pilatus, The PPP Group, Te Mania Angus Australia and Westpac.

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