AUSTRALIA’S largest carcase competition being staged next month has attracted 804 steers and heifer entries from 84 exhibitors located in all Australian states.
The response to Beef 2021’s ANZ National Carcase Competition has exceeded organisers’ expectations, given the widespread drought conditions that occurred during most of the growing period last year and the difficulties imposed by COVID.
Some 19 beef processing plants across the country participated in the judging process, which started back in August last year and concluded on March 30.
Carcase competition master-judge, experienced MSA grader Janine Lau, has spent the past week checking, reviewing and verifying results, against digital images captured in the chillers for all competition entries and kill floor data, to ensure consistency in grading across all sites.
She said the general standard of entries this year was particularly high.
Among the seven grainfed and grassfed classes being contested, the heavy export 100-day grainfed class attracted the most entries this year, with 85 groups of three, representing more than 250 head. Also popular was the heavy domestic MSA grassfed class, with 48 entries, representing close to 150 head.
With entries coming from all states, the competition provides an opportunity for producers to compete and benchmark their product at a truly national level.
Entries were judged using a modified ABCAS carcase grading formula based on market specifications (weight, dentition, fatness, meat and fat colour – 10 points), lean meat yield (30 points), and predicted eating quality (MSA index – 40 points).
The record entry seen three years ago at Beef 2018, before the drought started, was 1041 head.
Exceptionally dry conditions up to March across some parts of Central Queensland put a handbrake on some local entries this year, and the absence of regional carcase competitions across Australia over the past 12 months due to COVID restrictions also limited access to some carcases that would otherwise have also been eligible for this competition.
Carcase committee chair David Hill said entries this year were particularly strong, given the seasonal challenges in some local areas, and the absence of regional carcase competitions where cattle can be dual-entered.
Judging got off to a slow start last year, because the Beef 2021 event was only given the official green light to go ahead in early December, over COVID concerns. Normally, the first carcases are assessed from July the previous year.
“While numbers are back a little on three years ago, it is still be the largest and most geographically-diverse carcase competition in Australia,” Mr Hill said.
“It’s been a great response, especially given the challenges that Victorian producers have gone through, so far as COVID regulations were concerned last year.”
Camera grading working well
For the first time in the beef industry, camera-based grading was used to judge all entries in the Beef 2021 Carcase Competition.
Beef 2021 purchased four of the new Samsung smartphone-based MasterBeef grading cameras for use in the competition. Click here to view an earlier Beef Central story on the SmartBeef grading technology, developed by Central Queensland Wagyu cattleman and engineer, Darren Hamblin.
The portable, lightweight and easy-to-use chiller assessment grading cameras were used to capture images of all entries, in conjunction with the plant MSA graders at each processing facility.
One of four purchased cameras was despatched to each processing site for use during the judging period, with individual carcase data and digital images captured and stored on the MasterBeef system database. At the completion of each judging round, the cameras were returned to the Beef 2021 committee for re-distribution for the next judging round.
One of the big advantages in the use of the camera was that judging times are now more flexible at each plant, without the need for a master judge to physically travel to each of the 19 participating plants multiple times throughout the six-month judging period.
Mr Hill said the new MasterBeef cameras had proven to be a great advance in judging, especially during this year’s challenging circumstances.
- The MasterBeef grading camera, and the science and IT smarts that drive it, will be showcased during the Beef 2021 Ken Coombe Tech Yards activity, and the international seminar program – the beef expo’s gathering point for all things agtech.
- Results from the carcase competition will be announced at a dedicated awards dinner on Tuesday, 4 May, in the Long Paddock venue. Limited tickets are still available.