THE results of the 2022 Paddock to Palate 70- and 100-day commercial cattle competitions highlighted two things in particular: the consistent performance of leading genetics in the competition, but also the fact that the door is still open for commercial operations to break through and achieve success in the tightly contested event.
The former was reflected in the continued success of repeat performers in the competition which independently and objectively rewards commercial relevance across the entire value chain, based on aggregate points for feedlot weight gain, carcase performance and eating quality.
Palgrove Pastoral Company won a record fifth consecutive overall championship in the Class 37 100-day category, fortifying its dominance in the section by winning first, second and fourth places overall with its Charolais and Charolais Angus X entries.
Palgrove also won ribbons for champion and reserve champion carcase and second place in the eating quality section of the 100-day HGP export class.
Palgrove genetics also again performed strongly in the 100-day HGP free class (Class 40), finishing third overall, including highest weight gain pen (ADG 2.557kg) and highest individual weight gain (ADG 2.910) in the class.
Long-running Paddock to Palate prize-winner Yulgilbar Pastoral Company has also maintained its winning ways under the new leadership of general manger Brett Ellem, who took over the reins in July last year.
Yulgilbar Santa Gertrudis entries won the overall Class 38 70-day HGP trade category championship, with a haul of accomplishments that included best weight gain of any pen in Class 38 (ADG 3.186) and best weight gain of all pens (ADG 3.262kg) and highest individual weight gain (ADG 3.59kg) in the class 37 100-day HGP export category.
Yulgilbar Santa Angus cross entries also finished fifth overall in the Class 40 100-day HGP-free export class, which included winning second place in the champion pen of carcases in the class.
Spencer and Sophie Morgan and Godfrey and Megan Morgan and family’s G Morgan & Co, The Grove, Condamine, has been an unswerving supporter of the Paddock to Palate competition since its inception in the 1990s. It has also been one of the competition’s most successful exhibitors, a record which was only further enhanced by results this year.
G Morgan & Co Shorthorn entries won the overall 100-day HGP free competition (Class 40) championship, taking both first and second place overall, and also finished third overall in the 100-day HGP export class (Class 37).
The Morgans also won champion pen of carcases in both Class 37 and 40, and also the champion eating quality award in Class 40.
Myriam and Simon Daley, in their first year of entering since a solo entry in 2012, demonstrated that commercially bred cattle from family enterprises can still shine in the market-relevant competition.
Their Charolais cross exhibits took the prizes for overall champion carcase and third place in the pen of six carcases in the Class 40 100-day HGP free category, and second place in the pen of six carcases in the Class 37 100-day HGP export class.
“It was very unexpected, we didn’t really go prepared,” Simon said.
“We thought we were going to the show for some fairy floss, but we came home with showbags.”
We thought we were going to the show for some fairy floss, but we came home with showbags
The Daleys started with a property 90km west of Longreach, but as severe drought began to take hold at the start of the last decade and unrelentingly refused to abate, they gradually switched from agisting and walking cattle to buying more country with grass. Their operation now includes two more breeding properties at Blackall and Injune and a growing property south west of Wandoan.
With a breeding base comprising a large percentage of red factor Charolais, Simon and Myriam have a cross breeding program with Simmental, Angus and Santa Gertrudis genetics to produce light honey to red honey coloured flat back cattle for feeder markets.
After entering the Barcoo Beef carcase competition last year and winning first and second place in the vendor-bred section, the Daleys decided to enter this year’s Paddock to Palate competition “out of interest”.
They were stunned by the “very unexpected” results.
“It probably makes the years of the drought chasing agistment cattle around worthwhile,” Simon said.
“I think there were 23 places over the three to four years and we spent some of that on the road.
“We didn’t want to sell those cows we had built up, (but) we didn’t know it was going to be as long as it was.
“We probably had three to four years on agistment and then we were lucky enough to pick up the property at Injune and a lot those cows, we’ve held those there.
“When it got dry at Wandoan we trucked some steers back to Blackall so we have just been able to keep chipping away.
“A fella said to me early in the drought, just be careful, because if you sell all your marbles, you won’t be playing the game.”
Myriam agreed that saving their breeding herd had been a priority.
“We’re very particular with temperament and how we handle them, so it was all hand in hand, we didn’t want to have to go and start it all again.”
‘A great competition to get involved in’
The Daleys also paid tribute to the work of the RNA beef cattle committee and to the JBS team at Beef City for their work in supporting the competition.
“It is a great competition to get involved in. It really makes you look at your cattle and other people’s cattle, you just get so much information out of talking to like-minded people and others who follow genetics seriously,” Myriam said.
“For us it is a very social event, there are a lot of friends, even if we do it next year and don’t have success we’re still going to have a lot of fun doing it.”
Palgrove’s Ben Noller, manager – Business Development and Genetics, said the competition plays a valuable role in enabling producers to benchmark their genetics against high profile commercial and stud operators.
“I guess the main reason we get involved is to see where you sit, you also want to see what is working for other producers.
“For me it is more just making sure that what you are doing is performing at the highest level.”
He said it was also very pleasing to see commercial clients of Palgrove’s experiencing success in the competition such as Simon and Myriam Daley (Charolais) and David Crombie’s Aurelian Pastoral Company (Ultrablack).
Spencer Morgan also encouraged other cattle producers to enter the competition, describing it as “a great learning experience”.
“To see Simon and Myriam Daley do so well, to see what their own program is doing and to benchmark it against a lot of the studs and then all of the other top commercial operations, that is a great story.
“They are using Charolais cross, which really suits the 100 day job, and they have done well in the HGP free job as well with a cross.
“They are good cattle, doesn’t matter what breed, if they are good cattle they are good cattle.”
The Morgans’ own exhibits performed very well in both the HGP export and HGP free classes, underlying the versatility of Shorthorn genetics.
“They continue to feed,” he said.
“We have fed other cattle for HGP free and they do really well to about 70 to 80 days and they will pull up, and our fellas will just keep poking along.
“We got third in the weight gain section, so we were up there with them and then to come through with the MSA and overall, it is great.
“We have been involved in the competition ever since it started, and it is something dad always said – ‘don’t hide, put it out there, and if you get whipped well then you have got to improve’.
“We have always done it, the RNA are to be congratulated. We have always said: “fed together, dead together”, it is a real competition.”
Another commercial cattle company that continued a strong run of success this year is Russell Pastoral Operations.
With its own Angus cross composite bred at Champion Station at Blackall, Russell Pastoral Operations took second, third and fifth place overall in the 70-day HGP trade section (Class 38).
In the same class it also won first and third place in the champion pen of six carcases, along with third highest weight gain for a pen of six (ADG 3.071), second place in the Eating Quality section, and highest individual index score (56.85).
The Russell Pastoral Operation Angus steers effectively ticked all the value-chain boxes right through from weight gain to carcase traits, MSA score and eating quality, adding to its overall win in the 70 day section two years ago.
“We’ve been entering this competition for five or six years, and we have always done okay, but in my experience if you do well in the weight gain, you tend not to do as well in the carcase,” Mr Armstrong said.
“To actually put them both together, it is humbling. We run a low cost operation, and to get these results up against some of the other more intensive operators here is very humbling.”
David Crombie’s Aurelian Pastoral Company was again among the top performers in the Paddock to Palate this year, with its Angus X Ultrablack cattle finishing fourth overall in the 70-day HGP trade section (Class 38).
The Crombie cattle not only performed well in the weight gain section – taking second place of any pen in the class with an ADG of 3.186 and also the highest individual daily weight gain of 3.786kg – but also won the eating quality award, in a fitting accomplishment for one of the pioneers of Australia’s Meat Standards Australia program.
Angus and Angus cross cattle entered by Mr Crombie’s daughter and son in law, Mary and Hamish McIntyre, also featured prominently in the eating quality awards, taking third place for eating quality in both the Class 37 and Class 38, while also finishing with the highest individual index score in Class 37 with a score of 60.1.
Also enjoying a standout result with high performances across the weight gain and meat quality sections was Ben and Wendy Mayne’s Texas Angus.
Their Angus exhibits took out fourth place overall in Class 40 (100-day HGP free), second of any pen in the class for weight gain (ADG 2.398kg) and first overall for eating quality in Class 37.
‘Fear the absence of progress’
JBS commercial manager Northern Brendan Tatt said the quality of the cattle entered this year was a credit to everyone who put in their cattle in for judging.
He encouraged producers to keep striving for advancement, leaving the audience at last week’s awards dinner with the following quote which he said embodied what the RNA and JBS were aiming to foster with the Paddock to Palate showcase of Australia’s beef industry.
“Don’t fear failure, fear the absence of progress.”
To see more 2022 Ekka Paddock to Palate results, including the winners of the Wagyu Challenge, click here