NOW in its ninth year, the Sydney Royal Beef Challenge has grown to become a significant competition for cattle producers across NSW targeting export and domestic feeder specifications.
Despite ongoing drought impacting all parts of NSW, producers still entered the maximum number of cattle, with 492 entries in pens of six competing for recognition in export and domestic classes.
This year’s live judging at the host Wilga feedlot near Bellata saw awards presented to several producers representing a range of breeds. Judge Greg Gibbons from Hancock Agriculture, oversaw the domestic classes and described the competition as extremely strong, with many outstanding individual animals and several strong pens. The Domestic Classes are directed towards Coles following a 70-day feeding program.
The Lord family, Branga Plains, Walcha exhibited a pen of six Charolais steers to claim the Domestic Class. Texas Angus placed second with a pen of heifers, while north coast competitors DA & EJ O’Reilly placed third with their pen of Charolais x Santa x Hereford cattle.
Individually, Hunter Valley breeders Jason & Jacqui Impey of Mala Daki Simmentals won first place. Mr Impey described the win as overwhelming, following several years of drought in the Hunter, and concern that they may not have entered any cattle this year.
In the Export Classes, judge Stephen Moy of NH Foods Wingham also found the competition extremely strong.
“The export cattle were of a very high standard and finding a winning pen was a big task,” he said.
Export classes were dominated by Angus entries this year, with the first-placed pen exhibited by long-time competition supporters, Ben & Wendy Mayne of Texas Angus Stud, Warialda. The second and third-placed teams were exhibited by Isla Angus operated by the Doolan family of Coonabrabran. The individual places were all awarded to Angus entries, with Texas Angus claiming first and second and an Angus steer from MacCue Trading filling third place.
Ben Mayne of Texas Angus described the competition as an important opportunity to showcase cattle in a commercial setting. In addition to the success across the pen classes and with individual animals, the Texas Angus cattle produced the highest average daily weightgain with their pens of heifers, and without HGPs. The Domestic pen produced an average gain of 2.392kg/day, while the export pen was recorded at 2.352kg/day.
RAS cattle committee councilor and feedlot operator Michael MacCue said this year’s competition was extremely strong.
“Cattle came from the north coast, Hunter, Central West and locally. I think a lot of people really want to get the chance to see how their cattle perform as a pen in a commercial environment. We treat them the same as our commercial cattle, so it’s a good test for them. Its great that the competition remains strongly supported even in such a tough year,” he said.
The RAS Sydney Royal Beef Challenge recognizes both live performance and carcase and eating quality. The second round of judging moves to carcase assessment followed by taste testing through the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show.
The announcement of overall winners for both classes will be made in September at a function in Tamworth.
Images: Danni MacCue, Wilga Feedlot.