Ultrablack gold rush in 2021 Paddock to Palate championships

James Nason, 05/08/2021

The Palgrove Charolais Ultrablack steers that won a historic trifecta in the Paddock to Palata competition – the weight gain section, the carcase section and overall championship in a single class in a single year in in the 100-day HGP export class (Class 37).


IN a week where Olympic records have tumbled with breath-taking regularity in Tokyo, closer to home Palgrove Charolais and Ultrablack genetics have again set new benchmarks for performance in one of Australia’s largest objectively measured commercial cattle competitions.

What Palgrove has achieved in results released this morning has never previously been accomplished in more than 20 years of Ekka Paddock to Palate competitions.

Palgrove has won an unprecedented fourth overall championship in four years.

That was achieved by winning the outright championships in not only one, but two of the four major sections of this year’s competition – the Class 37 100-day export and Class 40 100-day HGP-free export class.

Joining Palgrove on the major winner’s podium this year is one of the industry’s best known former leaders, ex-MLA and NFF chair David Crombie, Aurelian Pastoral Company, whose Angus Ultrablack steers took out the overall championship in the 70-day HGP trade class (Class 38).

The overall winner of the fourth major class – the Wagyu Challenge (Class 39) – this year was Darren Hamblin, Strathdale, Springsure – see full details on the Wagyu section winners in today’s separate article.

In addition to an unparalleled fourth straight outright championship, Palgrove pens of Charolais Ultrablack steers are also believed to have achieved another major feat in becoming the first to have won all three major sections of a single class in a single year.

After winning the weight gain section in the Class 37 100-day HGP export class and Class 40 100-day HGP-free export class at JBS Beef City Feedlot announced in late June, Palgrove steers have gone to take first places in the carcase section of their respective classes, and then also the overall class championships.

The Palgrove Charolais Ultrablack steers which took out the overall championship in the 100-day HGP-free export class (Class 40)

We are happy to be advised otherwise but in our understanding and that of RNA commercial cattle councillor Gary Noller, this is the first time a single pen of steers has won the weight gain, carcase and overall championship in a single class in one year.

A perpetual challenge in cattle breeding is to strike the right balance between cattle that perform well in both weight gain and carcase value.

Both traits that are commercially important but also antagonistic in a genetic sense – push too hard in one direction and it can often be at the expense of the other.

Brisbane’s Paddock to Palate Competition is specifically geared to identifying genetics that go as close as possible to reaching this “holy grail”, by measuring the performance of cattle across three critical areas – weight gain in the feedlot, carcase value in the chiller, and eating quality via a taste test with expert chefs.

An overall championship in each class requires a strong performance in both sections, and goes a long way toward affirming the commercial value of a herd’s genetics.

Finishing second overall in the 70-day class (Class 38) was Riverglen Pastoral Company with Charolais cross steers, while Hereford cross steers from Devon Court Herefords at Drillham took third and fourth place overall.

Earlier Devon Court’s Hereford cross steers also won both champion and reserve champion carcase awards in the 70-day HGP trade class (Class 38), took second place in the Eating Quality section of the same class, while another pen of Devon Court Hereford cross steers also took out third place overall in the 100 day HGP-free export class (Class 40).

The Drynan family from Esk added further to its impressive record of performance in the competition by building on its individual weight gain section win with a Charolais x Red Angus steer in the 70- day HGP trade class (Class 38) with the award for highest individual carcase in the same section, to finish sixth outright in the overall class.

A Charolais entry from the Drynan family also won third place overall in the 100-day HGP export class (Class 37).

Texas Angus, which made headlines last week in setting a new national Angus breed record bull price of $225,000 at its annual bull sale, reinforced the commercial relevance of its genetics with two pens of Angus steers taking outright second and fourth placings overall in the 100 day HGP-free export class (Class 40).

The award for champion pen of carcases in Class 40 was won by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongbar, with a pen of Angus cross steers, while G Morgan & Co from Condamine continued its long-running record of high performance in the competition with reserve champion carcase with a pen Shorthorn steers. The prize for individual carcase in Class 40 was awarded to a Palgrove Charolais Ultrablack entry.

In the 100-day HGP export class (Class 37) the reserve champion carcase winner was a Droughtmaster/Simmental cross pen entered by Ken and Kerry McKenzie from Blackwater in Central Queensland.

Speckle Park/Angus cross entries from Minnamurra Pastoral Co, Coolah, featured prominently in the eating quality and individual MSA index sections, winning both in the 70-day trade class (Class 38), recording the highest individual carcase index score in the 100-day HGP export class (Class 37), and taking second and third place in the Class 37 eating quality section, behind C & J Varidel Trading Pty Limited, Yuelba, in first place with Angus Cross cattle.

In the 100-day HGP-free export class (Class 40) Angus entries from Eaglehawk Angus from Glen Innes won the highest individual index score and first and third place in the eating quality section, with Angus entries from Top End Partnership taking second place.

Below are the key results from the three major open classes in the competition: Class 37 (the 100-day HGP export class), Class 38 (the 70-day HGP trade class) and Class 40 (the 100-day HGP-free export class):





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