Exceptional weightgains are being recorded for the 2013 100-day grainfed paddock to palate performance class attached to this year’s Brisbane show.
A record total of 70 pens of seven steers are approaching the final stages of the feedlot performance component of the competition, being hosted at Mort & Co’s Grassdale feedlot near Dalby on Queensland’s Darling Downs.
With almost 500 steers involved – close to double last year – the competition now ranks as the single largest cattle performance class held as part of any agricultural show in Australia.
Every conceivable British, European and tropically-adapted breed and their composites are represented.
The cattle will die around mid-July at JBS Dinmore, before the second phase of the competition based on meat quality and MSA assessment is carried out. Overall performance class winners are decided using a combination of both the feedlot performance and meat quality/yield assessment.
At the 50-day halfway point of this year’s competition, Santa Gertrudis and Shorthorn entries were filling six of the top ten positions, based on average daily gain. Showing just how tight the contest is, the top four entries were all gaining at better than 3kg per day.
Last year’s top ten pens produced an average daily gain of 2.86kg, while this year’s top ten were even better at 2.95kg.
Best placed at Day-50 this year was a pen of straight Santa cattle from Acton Land and Co, producing a phenomenal ADG of 3.06kg. The steers were bred on the company’s Millungera Station near Julia Creek and Barkly Downs on the NT border. They were backgrounded on buffel on Croydon Station, Marlborough, and drafted off by Croydon manager, Tom Acton.
Running second at the half-way mark was a pen of Durham Reds (Shorthorns) from Goff Morgan and Co, Condamine (3.04kg/day), with another pen of Shorthorns from Woolcott Shorthorns, Roma third (3.02kg).
Last year’s overall grand champions, Shorthorn x Angus steers from Lee and Megan McNicholl and family, Arklow, Dulacca, were again right in the hunt, averaging exactly 3kg/day gain at day 50, while a pen of Red Poll x from Richard and Dyan Hughes, Wentworth Cattle Co, Clermont were placed fifth (2.96kg/day).
In total, this year’s competition entries at the mid-point were averaging 2.59kg/day, with mob averages ranging from 3.06kg/day to just 1.59kg/day.
Mort & Co’s client services manager Ben Maher said the exceptional early performance could be partly explained by being ‘blessed’ with very mild and stable weather conditions during the competition’s first 60 days this year.
“They’ve certainly had as good a conditions for winter feeding as you could hope to get, with warm days and mild nights,” he said.
“There was a little respiratory challenge early, but the fact that all the entries this year were pre-vaccinated twice with Bovillis MH +IBR vaccine, meant their performance did not reflect the early challenge.”
While morbidity rates were actually up this year on last, gain performance was improved, suggesting that while vaccination did not stop BRD altogether, it reduced the severity.
“But genetics also had a lot to do with the performance. There was some magnificent cattle there,” Mr Maher said.
He said the difference between the absolute front-runners – all close to, or above 3kg/day – was consistency.
“All seven steers in the pen have to excel. There were other pens with stand-out individual performers, but it’s much harder to achieve that sort of high gain performance across seven steers,” he said.
“There was nothing between the best and the worst gaining steer in the tops pens – they were all good.”
This year’s competition steers averaged 390kg at intake, and spent a fortnight together in the paddock before entering the Grassdale feedlot pens. All steers received a Component S implant on induction and have been fed a high-energy, high protein (72pc) ration.
A field day will be held for exhibitors and other stakeholders on Tuesday, July 9 at Grassdale to coincide with the final pre-exit weighing. Mort & Co’s Ben Maher will provide an outline on the feeding performance, ration, vaccine efficacy and other points of interest. Guest speaker will be Dougal Gordon, chief executiive of the Australian Lot Feeders Association. The day is due to start at 9am.
- The RNA can provide further details on the field day – contact Jacqui Sarich firstname.lastname@example.org ph (07) 3253 3921.
- Final results will not be disclosed until Brisbane Show led steer and carcase results briefing on Saturday, August 10.