NORTHERN Tasmanian beef producers Philip and Gaylene Hughes were named the State’s MSA Producers of the Year at the inaugural MSA Excellence in Eating Quality Awards in Launceston last night.
The awards recognise the State’s top producers who have achieved outstanding compliance rates to the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) specifications for cattle MSA graded during 2014-15.
The Hughes’s operate a cattle growing and finishing business at Kindred, near Devonport, turning off around 50 head annually in the 600kg to 700kg liveweight range.
They won the MSA title from a field comprising more than 2000 registered producers in Tasmania who consigned cattle during the 2014-15 financial year. Other state finalists for last night’s award were Dale Beswick from Wynyard and Shaun Howe from Mole Creek.
MSA Producer Engagement Officer Jarrod Lees said the Hughes’s focus on nutrition played a key role in delivering a quality end product.
“Philip and Gaylene’s cattle are on good pastures and as soon as the pastures start to lose nutritional value, they are giving them a supplement, and in this case, silage,” Mr Lees said.
“Their cattle aren’t ever going a day without growing. Philip is sourcing cattle that are quite young and growing them out to their potential and to his target market.
“Essentially, having that good strong growth path means the ossification scores should be quite low when they do go to slaughter.”
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.
Handling big factor
Mr Lees said quiet handling of the stock had also contributed to the Hughes’s results through preventing carcases with dark meat colour or high pH values to meet the MSA minimum requirements.
“Philip is always spending time amongst the cattle on the bike getting them familiar to people and handling, and when he’s got them in the yards he’s working them quietly – that’s keeping stress levels low,” Mr Lees said.
“All of their cattle have a really good temperament and that’s a positive from a stress-reduction perspective.
“Having such high MSA Index scores means the Hughes’s beef is really high quality, so consumers are getting a product that’s going to give them a really good eating experience.
“Philip and Gaylene should feel really proud of their efforts. The cattle they are producing are top quality, some of the best in the State, and obviously that’s something to really hang your hat on.”
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 aim 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.
The MSA Excellence in Eating Quality Awards are being held throughout Australia in conjunction with a ‘Future of Eating Quality’ forum in each state.
MSA was developed by the Australian red meat industry to improve beef eating quality consistency. The system is based on over 700,000 consumer taste tests by over 100,000 consumers from nine countries and takes into account all factors that affect the eating quality from the paddock to the plate.
During 2014-15, almost 13,000 producers throughout Australia consigned over 3.2 million cattle to the MSA program.
- See this morning’s separate case study on the Hughes’s winning approach to MSA supply.
Upcoming MSA state awards gatherings:
The Tasmanian awards presented last night followed similar MSA state awards recently in Qld, NSW and Victoria. Other state MSA Supplier of the Year awards will follow, culminating in WA’s event on April 14.
Here’s the dates and venues for remaining events:
South Australia: Tuesday,12 April, 11am-8pm, Adelaide Hills Convention Centre, 145A Mount Barker Road, Hahndorf (NB: this event will be held in conjunction with the SA Sheep Industry Blueprint launch).
Western Australia: Thursday, 14 April, 2-8pm, Lighthouse Beach Resort, Carey Street, Bunbury.