Solid start for Beef Australia 2024 national carcase competition

Jon Condon, 27/07/2023

THERE’S been a strong start for the National Beef Carcase Competition being held as part of Beef 2024 in Rockhampton next May, with competition entries already starting to be slaughtered and assessed recently at four beef processing plants across Eastern Australia.

Some of the early competition kills have taken place at NH Foods’ Borthwicks plant at Mackay in North Queensland; Nolan Meats at Gympie, north of Brisbane; JBS Beef City, near Toowoomba; and HW Greenham at Smithton, Tasmania. Some 175 competition entries have already been assessed.

In total, a record 25 beef processing plants in all Australian states will contribute data from cattle entered in next year’s competition.

First kills took place a month ago, and will continue right up to the final slaughter date of 29 February next year, giving every region of Australia the opportunity to participate during optimum seasonal production periods.

The last carcase event back in 2021 saw around 800 grain and grassfed steer and heifer carcases entered and assessed, despite the earlier impacts of drought. Organisers this year are hopeful of getting somewhere near the event record of 1041 carcases assessed as part of the Beef 2018 National Carcase Competition, held prior to the drought.

“With participation from processors and beef producers in every state, this is truly a national event,” carcase committee chairman David Hill said.

The appraisal system utilised in the competition is specifically designed to meet both export and domestic market requirements and uses latest objective carcase measurement technology available to the beef industry (see references below).

The competition aims to give feedback to producers about compliance of beef carcases to market specifications, lean meat yield, and predicted eating quality of those carcases, based on MSA index.

Eight classes are open for competition, covering grass and grainfed steers and heifers in three weight divisions from light domestic to export, plus two unrestricted feeding classes. A new class has been introduced into the 2024 competition, for longfed cattle 360kg carcase weight or higher, designed for Wagyu and longfed Angus programs.

Entries will be 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).

In recognition of the hard work each participating plant contributes to the success of the Beef Australia AMPC National Beef Carcase Competition, a new award category has been introduced. The ‘Most Successful Plant’ award will be presented to the processing plant that achieves the highest score based on pen scores, number of entries and competition results.

Some plants that have grading days planned in the near future  include:

  • JBS Longford (Tasmania) 4 August
  • Kilcoy Global Foods (Queensland) 27 July.

More dates will be added in coming weeks.

Valuable benchmarking feedback

One of the keen competitors lining up again for next year’s carcase competition will be the Mayne family from Texas Angus near Warialda in northern NSW.

Ben Mayne collects the trophy for champion pen of grainfed bullock carcases during the Beef 2018 event from committee member, Mark Inglis

“We consider the National Beef Carcase Competition to be one of Australia’s most prestigious and largest carcase competitions,” Wendy Mayne said.

“Our business has been entering this commercially relevant competition since 2015, and it offers us the ability to benchmark our breeding program not only against other Angus cattle, but all breeds and crosses,” she said.

“It provides us with the actual informative feedback data that we heavily utilise in our breeding program decisions. Every sector of the beef industry from the cow-calf producer right through to the processor has to make money, and profitability is one of the key breeding objectives for the Texas Angus breeding program.”

“This competition allows us to compete not only against some of Australia’s best seedstock and commercial operators but also against lotfeeders and processors. We cannot emphasis how important this competition is to identify the higher performing, more efficient genetic lines with in our cattle that hit all the market specifications and excel in eating quality.”

Camera grading working well

The Beef 2024 National Carcase Competition will again use camera-based grading to judge all entries in the competition.

Beef Australia three years ago purchased 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 are being used to capture images of all entries, in conjunction with the plant MSA graders at each processing facility.

One of the cameras is 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 are returned to the Beef 2024 committee for re-distribution for the next judging round.

Carcase competition master judge Janine Lau then reviews the digital data and images collected at each site, as well as slaughter-floor data, to ensure consistency in grading across all sites.

One of the big advantages in the use of the camera is that judging times are now far more flexible at each plant, without the need for a master judge to physically travel to each of the 25 participating plants multiple times throughout the nine-month judging period.

Mr Hill said the MasterBeef cameras had proven to be a great advance in judging since their introduction back in 2021.

  • Winners for the 2024 competition will be announced at a Beef 2024 dedicated carcase awards dinner in Rockhampton on the night of Tuesday 7 May, 2024.
  • Click here to access details and entry forms for the Beef 2024 National Beef Carcase Competition. Entries close one month prior to the final slaughter date on 29 February.







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