BRIDGETOWN cattle producer Gerald Young was named Western Australia’s MSA Producer of the Year at the inaugural MSA Excellence in Eating Quality Awards in Bunbury last night.
The Awards recognise the state’s top producers who have achieved outstanding compliance rates to the Meat Standards Australia specifications for cattle graded during 2014-15.
Gerald and his partner Denice Brookes run Angus-Friesian cows joined to Simmental bulls to turn off about 60 MSA-graded vealers each year. (Click here to access a brief case study and video on Mr Young’s operation).
Mr Young won the MSA title from a field comprising more than 1500 registered producers in WA who consigned cattle during the 2014-15 financial year. Other finalists for the WA state award were Donald & Barbara Bell from Redmond, and Steven Pinzone from Waroona.
MSA producer engagement officer Jarrod Lees said the low ossification scores of Mr Young’s cattle was indicative of their good nutrition and handling.
“Being milk-fed vealers, Gerald’s ossification scores are really low, but we can also tell that they’ve had a really easy path to slaughter,” Mr Lees said.
“He has no dark-cutters, so we can also tell that he’s handling his cattle with a minimum amount of stress and that’s a really key part of MSA to meet the program’s minimum requirements.
“Gerald should feel over the moon about how well he’s done. The compliance rate is really admirable and his MSA Index score is top rate.”
Ossification is a measure of the physiological maturity of the beef carcase, and eating quality declines as ossification increases. While ossification increases as the animal ages, it can also increase with nutritional or health stress.
‘Dark-cutters’ are carcases which have a dark meat colour rather than the desirable cherry red and often a high muscle pH. It can be influenced by factors including inadequate pre-slaughter nutrition as well as stress imposed on the cattle.
To be eligible for the awards, a producer’s annual MSA-graded volume had to be in the top 50th percentile for the state they were produced in.
Each producer that met the eligibility criteria received a score out of 100 weighted on two factors – the compliance to MSA minimum requirements, and eating quality performance as determined by the MSA Index for cattle consigned to MSA in 2014-15.
The Awards, held in each state over the past fortnight, aimed to raise awareness of best management practice from producers who consistently deliver superior eating quality beef ultimately for the benefit of consumers and for the profitability of the industry.