THE Australian national meat judging team arrived home from the US on the weekend, bringing home a swag of awards medals from three important US meat judging contests and some experiences that would make any University student envious.
The enthusiastic and talented you students making up the team included Hamish Irvine from University of Sydney, Frederick Broughton from University of New England, Nick van den Berg from University of Adelaide and Tamara Heir and Laura Kemmis from Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of Australia’s Inter Collegiate Meat Judging Association, which started in 1990.
The 2014 national team’s month-long meat and livestock industry tour of the US included participating in three meat judging contests against US colleges. As a team, the Australians placed no lower than fifth place in all categories of all of their contests, setting a very high standard.
At the National Western competition in Denver, Colorado, they were placed third overall and won the category for judging placings.
Individual award highlights included Nick van den Berg placed as the fourth and seventh highest overall individual at the National Western (Denver) and South Western competition (Fort Worth) respectively. Laura Kemmis achieved fourth and fifth highest individual in beef judging at the same contests.
Tammy, Fred and Hamish were also successful in securing a great display of ribbons over a number of categories.
Australian coach, Emma Hegarty said this year’s students were a great group who worked very hard. “They put a lot of effort to everything we did, whether it was long training sessions in the abattoir or representing their country at the many industry visits and tours we did,” Emma said.
Meat & Livestock Australia’s Demi Lollback, who also assisted in the coaching role, was overwhelmed by the extent of the tour itinerary.
“This was a trip of a lifetime for the team. The students have just had a very exclusive insight into the US industry that not many people ever get to do,” she said.
Aside from the contests, the team spent a month covering nearly 10,000km across ten US states visiting industry organisations. The trip gave the students a complete paddock-to-plate insight from ranch and feedlot visits to processor tours of beef, pork and lamb facilities, including the three major US packers – JBS, Tyson and Cargill.
Among the stopovers were visits to the National Cattlemens Beef Association, meat science faculties of seven major Universities as well as meeting with Global Animal Products in Amarillo who provided the team with a personal flight over their feedlots.
The visit to the USDA Meat Animal Research Centre (MARC) in Nebraska left a strong impression on team-member Nick van den Berg.
“The research centre runs 7000 breeding cows, 3000 ewes and produces 700 litters of pigs a year. The variety and integration of their research projects had me and the whole team astounded at the work being undertaken,” he said.
The Australian team will be guests at the 2014 Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging program to be held in Wagga Wagga on July 8-13, inspiring the next intake of young meat judging enthusiasts. Meat & Livestock Australia and Australian Meat Processors Corporation were the major sponsors of the Australian team.