INDUSTRY luminary David Crombie has racked-up a long and impressive list of career achievements over the past 40 years across the red meat industry.
But it was clear that his first-up win in this morning’s 70-day Paddock to Palate competition held as part of Brisbane Show was ‘right up there’ with his most memorable milestones.
The former MLA and chairman and MSA steering committee head was clearly elated after his name was announced as the winner of the 70-day grainfed class, topping 49 teams of domestic steers and heifers, totalling almost 350 head, drawn from across from across central and southern Queensland and northern NSW.
A beaming David Crombie said it was his first ever attempt at a carcase competition.
“I think I will hang up the boots now,” he said.
He and his wife Margie run a small commercial breeding herd near Warwick on Queensland’s southern Darling Downs, growing out and grain-finishing the young cattle on country owned by their daughter and son-in law, Hamish and Mary McIntyre near St George.
So why the decision to enter this year’s Paddock to Palate competition, after so long in the industry? Beef Central asked.
“Hamish talked me into entering a pen,” Mr Crombie said. “We just think this is a really good competition to be a part of, measured across a range of important parameters – it’s where the industry has to be going,” he said.
The Crombies run a rotational crossbred herd, with its origins as Hereford and later Angus breeders, combined with Ultraback and Santa Gertrudis bulls.
He likes to retain a ‘little splash’ of Bos Indicus in the breeders via Ultrablack and Santa infusions in replacement heifers, to help manage lice and buffalo fly in the Warwick environment. “That little bit of indicus adds tremendous value in our country,” he said.
The emphasis is on moderate frame-score, efficient breeders.
“Our philosophy is pretty simple – if we use the right bloodlines they will grow into a reasonable carcase,” Mr Crombie said.
The cattle are finished through the McIntyre’s small opportunity feedlot on their St George property where they grow all of the yard’s grain and roughage requirements. The Crombies’ steers and heifer turnoff go either into domestic MSA programs or shortfed export weights.
The Crombies’ winning pen of milk-tooth steers were true ‘allrounders’, doing well in all aspects of the competition. In the feedyard at Grassdale, they produced average daily gains of 2.2 to 3kg/day, ideal fat depth and some of the better and more consistent marbling scores in the competition. Eye muscle areas ranged from 83-112sq cm, suggesting lean meat yields from mid-59’s to a high of 64.5pc. Oss scores were at the lower end of the competition range, from 130-170.
MSA index scores, the third part of the competition, ranged from one outlier at 54,51, to high 56’s and 57’s.
Mr Crombie noted the strong emphasis on MSA eating quality index results in all Paddock to Palate competition divisions this year, saying this was a “fundamental part of where the Australian beef industry now needed to be.”
As the MSA steering committee chair back in the mid-1990s, he said he was a little disappointed that it had taken 20 years for MSA to reach the stage it had today. “It’s encouraging to me that it’s now reached this point, but there’s still further to go,” he said.
“The focus on the customer, and on the top end of the market is where we have to be in agriculture, and beef specifically, in order to remain competitive. It’s a simple message, and for a long time we ignored it, chasing the commodity market,” he said.
Runners-up in the 70-day Paddock to Palate competition this year was Yulgilbar Pastoral Co, Baryulgil, NSW with a Sangus (Santa x Angus) team, with Tim and Phillis Carlill from Kyogle third, with a Charolais cross team.