Crombie celebrates Paddock to Palate double

James Nason, 06/08/2021

After achieving the rare accomplishment of winning a major class championship with his first entry in one of Australia’s toughest commercial cattle competitions, David Crombie has gone one better and repeated the feat for a second time in three years.

Davd Crombie (right) Pictured collecting his first paddock to palate class championship award in his first year of entering the competition in 2018, with RNA councillor Gary Noller and JBS’s Steve Groom.

In the process he has demonstrated that smaller family-sized businesses can indeed mix it with the bigger commercial and stud operations that also enter the premier Paddock to Palate competition.

Mr Crombie is a former long-serving Australian agricultural leader, having served in a range of prominent national roles including chair of Meat & Livestock Australia and president of the National Farmers Federation over a distinguished industry representative career spanning decades. He is also a former president of the Australian Rugby Union and scaled the game’s elite levels as a player, representing Queensland as a hooker.

As the head of the Meat Standards Australia steering committee in the 1990s he was an early champion and driver of moves to improve beef eating quality for consumers.

These days Mr Crombie has largely stepped back from industry affairs and executive positions, save for being a director of Brisbane-based air charter operation Alliance Aviation –  which he describes as “a great little company” – and publicly listed investment company ECP.

While he still engages in industry activities and gives talks where requested, he takes the view that if you believe you can fulfil a role and offer something you should give it your best shot and then walk away. “I certainly haven’t hung around,” he said.

Less time in a suit and tie has allowed more time focusing on producing cattle at his property Mountside near Warwick, the region where he grew up, and spending time with  his family, which these days includes 12 cherished grandchildren.

Mr Crombie runs 600-700 breeders on 4050 hectares (10,000 acres) in granite and traprock country south of Warwick.

The production strategy is to wean cattle onto oats and then finish them at the Mooramanna Feedlot at St George, owned by his daughter and son-in-law Mary and Hamish McIntyre.

Grain from another property owned in a joint partnership by the Crombies and McIntyres at St George is also put through the feedlot.

Mr Crombie’s breeding herd is predominantly Angus-based, bred using bulls from Cedric Wise’s Glen Isa, the Mayne family’s Texas Angus and also bulls shared with Mary and Hamish. Yulgilbar Santa bloodlines have also contributed to the genetics of the breeding herd as well. Ultrablack bulls from Palgrove and Nindooinbah are used in the cross breeding program.

Commercial relevance

The Paddock to Palate competition held as part of the Royal Queensland Show (the ‘Ekka’) each year is geared toward rewarding commercially relevant genetics by assessing performance across the value chain, from weight gain in the feedlot to carcase merit in the chiller to a taste test by expert chefs.

Cattle have to perform well across all three sections of a class to have a chance of winning an overall class championship.

Mr Crombie first entered his own steers in the Paddock to Palate commercial competition in 2018 at the urging of Hamish and Mary, who have also been regular and successful exhibitors in recent years.

In that first attempt his Angus Ultrablack cross steers achieved the highest possible accolade by winning the overall 70-day trade class outright.

This year, his third year of entering the competition (he was unable to enter cattle in 2019 due to drought and having stock away on agistment) Mr Crombie’s Angus Ultrablack cross steers have again risen through the ranks of high quality cattle to win the outright 70-day trade class championship for the second time.

“We were absolutely delighted,” Mr Crombie said.

“We think this is a wonderful competition with a commercial focus, it is available to all producers and really captures the entire chain from the paddock right through to the dinner plate.

“For a commercial cattle producer the Paddock to Palate competition is by far the most relevant of any of the competitions that are going around.”

Keep it simple

Mr Crombie’s said his approach is to “keep things as simple as possible”.

“We like medium-framed efficient cows that do well on our country.

“We’re not after big breeders, and we have a real focus on fertility and obviously on carcase quality in the local market.

“We buy good commercial bulls that perform on our country, and we’re very heavy on culling for fertility and temperament, and, basically, it is as simple as that.”

After more than a half century of involvement in the cattle industry Mr Crombie says it is very rare to see conditions in the beef industry as good as they are now.

“I think the really important thing in agriculture is that when you have got the wind behind you, you do as much as you can, you don’t sit back and think this is going to last forever,” he said.

‘I can’t think of a better place to be than the food sector in Australia’

“And really, we have got wonderful seasonal conditions, market conditions are strong and prospects are looking good, and low interest rates.

“It is a nice trifecta at the moment, but we have all been around long enough to know it won’t last forever.

“Having said that, I am absolutely confident in the future of our industry, I can’t think of a better place to be than the food sector in Australia.”


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  1. Ross Ainsworth, 07/08/2021

    Well done David. Achieving excellence in both agripolitics and animal production is a rare feat.

    • David Charles Crombie, 09/12/2021

      Thanks Ross…..Good to hear from you and I have really enjoyed your Asian market reports over the years. Best wishes to you and yours for Xmas and the New Year
      Regards David C

  2. Val Dyer, 06/08/2021

    So pleased that you are continuing your passion for on-farm excellence in producing the best product. Congratulations!

    • David Charles Crombie, 09/12/2021

      Thanks Val Good to hear from you again. Best wishes for Xmas and the New Year
      Regards David C

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