WESTERN Australian exhibitors maintained their proud record of achievement in the National Beef Carcase Competition attached to Beef 2015 this year, when Pinjarra producer Bruce Campbell produced the champion pen and reserve champion pen double.
Mr Campbell entered three pens of grassfed milk-tooth Charolais x Angus steers from his property Cooara, at Keysbrook, not far from Pinjarra, to claim the competition’s two pen championship ribbons, as well as reserve champion individual carcase.
Mr Campbell’s Beef 2015 championship winners were calves virtually off their mothers, having been run on heavy sand over clay country, carrying mostly clovers and ryegrass, spending their final period on a sacrificed abundant ryegrass hay paddock.
The calves exhibited prodigious weightgain for age, with the winning pen averaging 236kg dressed weight at ten months of age. The reserve champion pen was even heavier at 240kg. Both pens were processed at Dardanup Butchering Co, Dardanup, WA.
The winning pen produced oss scores of 100-110, marbling scores of 1, and MSA index scores of between 67.51 and 68.44. P8 fat ranged from 10-14mm, and the carcases scored strongly for fat distribution. Eye muscles ranged from 72-82 sq cm, for total point scores of 256.96 out of 300.
Entries from all points of the compass were received for what became Australia’s first truly national beef carcase competition at Beef 2015, which concluded with a presentation dinner last night.
The event provided a unique opportunity for beef producers from across Australia to benchmark their product on a national level, as well as receiving invaluable feedback on their entries’ performance in meeting market specifications, yield of saleable meat, and predicted eating quality.
Last night’s Cooara trophies were collected on Mr Campbell’s behalf by his immediate neighbour, Michelle Fleming, who travelled 5500km to Rockhampton to compete with her own stud heifer (click here to read Beef Central’s earlier story).
“I would have loved to be there myself, but with cows calving and a bit of a false-break going on, it was impossible to get away,” Mr Campbell said.
Almost 600 cattle representing breeders and processing plants from every Australian state were represented in this year’s carcase competition.
Mr Campbell’s championship winners were all home-bred, mostly using polled Charolais genetics tracing back to North American and Canadian semen. Between 60 and 100 cows go into an AI program on the property each year.
Turnoff cattle are either sold as weaners in the local store market, or fed-on, seasons permitting, for sale as grassfed MSA trade steers to local abattoirs including Dardanup and Harvey Beef.
“I just like messing around with carcase competitions,” Mr Campbell said. “It provides us with a good pointer as to how our cattle are going, and the level we’re at.”
“I had a selection of calves to choose from, and just narrowed the final pens of three down when I brought them closer to home,” he said. “I tend to rate my cows pretty highly, so in order to mate bulls to match the quality of my females, I prefer to use AI, instead of paying big money for bulls.”
Cooara has done well over the years in local WA carcase and live steer competitions, exhibiting grand champion trade steer at Perth Royal last year with a calf carrying similar breeding to last night’s winners; a lightweight champion carcase winner (Blonde x Angus steer) at Perth; and champion carcase at the local Harvey show just last week.
“But we’ve never won any carcase competition at this scale before. It came as a complete shock,” he said. “It’s such an honour, I’m thrilled.”
The Campbells have a long history of Charolais breeding in WA, introducing the first genetics in 1971, right at the dawn of Charolais breeding in Australia.
“We’ve been breeding those terminal crossbred calves ever since, although we sometimes keep the F1 females, either to mate back to Angus bulls, or to Blondes,” he said.
Overall individual champion carcase announced last night, scoring 89.70 points, was a Shorrthorn cross steer from the grainfed heavy trade steer class, exhibited by John and Liz Manchee, Manchee Agriculture, Narrabri.
The milk-tooth steer had a carcase weight of 334kg; an oss score of 110; marbling score of 1; and 103sq cm eye muscle. The Manchee steer was processed at Kilcoy Pastoral Co.
Two Tasmanian entries processed at the Greenham Smithton plant claimed grassfed class wins. Waverley Station, Tasmania won the class for grassfed steers and heifers 260-340kg class, while MH &GA de Jonge were successful in the grassfed steers 300-420kg class.
Another WA exhibitor, TW Pearson & Son, claimed the grainfed steer/heifer class 180-260kg, with entries also processed at Dardanup Butchering Co. Manchee Ag claimed the heavier grainfed heavy steer classes, both processed at Kilcoy Pastoral Co.
This year there were six classes open to grain and pasturefed steers and heifers, ranging from 180kg to 420kg carcase weight to cover domestic to export categories.
The competition has been developed from the Australian Beef Carcase Appraisal System (ABCAS) by the National Beef Carcase Competition Committee of Beef Australia 2015.
Four judging criteria areas were applied: Market specifications (25 points); Saleable meat yield (35 points); MSA index result (40 points); Pen bonus points (possible 8 points).