NORTH-WEST Tasmanian beef producer Katrina Simpson has won the 2017 MSA Excellence in Eating Quality Most Outstanding Beef Producer award for her State, presented at Ulverstone last night.
The awards recognise producers who have achieved outstanding compliance rates to MSA specifications, as well as high eating quality, as represented by MSA Index results for beef carcases graded during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 financial years.
At her property near Wynyard, Mrs Simpson produces Angus and Hereford steers which go into Greenham’s Cape Grim grassfed beef brand. She won the title from a field comprising 2100 registered producers in Tasmania who consigned MSA cattle during 2015-17.
Stan and Gwenyth Elphinstone from Stowport won the inaugural MSA Excellence in Eating Quality Progress Award for Tasmania, for showing the greatest improvement in their MSA results since the 2014-15 financial year. The Elphinstones produce grassfed Angus/Charolais-cross cattle.
The MSA Most Outstanding Beef Producer award was open to producers that used any production system to achieve MSA eligible cattle.
MSA program manager Sarah Strachan said the awards recognised the outstanding commitment by the producers for producing cattle that consistently achieved exceptional compliance rates to MSA’s strict specifications.
“To help with continuously improving eating quality, MSA-registered producers are provided with ongoing feedback on their livestock, accessible through myMSA, which now offers producers the ability to benchmark their performance against other producers in the state as well. These producers are showing they are taking notice of that information to achieve results,” Ms Strachan said.
During 2015-17, 62 percent of the cattle processed in Tasmania were MSA graded. Throughout Australia, more than 14,000 producers consigned almost 5.9 million cattle to the MSA program during 2015-17.
To be eligible for the awards, a producer’s annual MSA-graded volume had to be equal to or above the average volume consigned for the State in which they were produced.
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 2015-16 and 2016-17 financial years.
The Awards aim to raise awareness of best management practice from producers who consistently deliver high eating quality beef in their state, ultimately for the benefit of consumers and for the profitability of the industry.
WITH its lush green landscape and stunning views across Bass Strait, Wynyard on Tasmania’s Northwest coast of is an idyllic spot – especially for raising some of the best beef in the state.
It’s where Katrina Simpson produces cattle that consistently achieve outstanding compliance rates against MSA specifications, which led her to win last night.
“I used to breed my own cattle but now I buy-in weaners, keep them for 12 to 18 months and sell at about 300kg dressed weight,” Katrina said.
“I try to source grassfed Angus or Hereford steers from local producers and which have never had HGPs or antibiotics. When I buy cattle, I pay close attention to their temperament and only source quiet, well-bred animals,” she said.
An MSA-registered producer for the past 10 years, Katrina said the carcase feedback provided by Greenhams under the MSA system was one of its key advantages.
“It’s great to get the feedback and also know that consumers are getting consistent, quality meat,” she said.
Her farm turns off around 30 head per year, with the cattle processed at Greenham’s abattoir at nearby Smithton, to supply Greenham’s well-known Cape Grim Beef brand.
Minimal, low-stress stock handling is another management tool Katrina uses to ensure the cattle meet MSA specifications, in particular the requirement for pH to be below 5.71. Producers are encouraged to keep their cattle on a rising plane of nutrition especially for the month prior to being sent for processing.
“The only times they’re really in the cattle yards are when they first arrive at the property, and then when they’re ready to be sent for processing,” Katrina said.
With its sandy loam soil types and 900mm average annual rainfall, Katrina’s property is a combination of low and high country which she under-stocks to enable her to manage the impacts of the high rainfall on her low-lying country.
“The cattle are fattened on pastures year-round and then when grass quality starts to drop, they’re fed on silage and hay which I grow on the property as well,” she said.
“There is also some bush here which provides winter shelter and summer shade for the cattle. They are pretty content, I think.”
The Tasmanian awards are the third of the MSA Excellence in Eating Quality Awards being held throughout Australia (see upcoming list below) and are being staged in conjunction with the ‘What Makes the Perfect MSA Index’ producer forums in each state.
MSA was developed by the Australian red meat industry to improve beef eating quality consistency. The system is based on more than 700,000 consumer taste tests by 100,000 consumers from nine countries and takes into account all factors that affect the eating quality from the paddock to the plate.
Queensland, Tasmanian and Victorian MSA awards have now been completed. Click here to view earlier Victorian awards article. Remaining upcoming state awards include: