Contest to improve feed plans

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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The Harvey Beef Gate 2 Plate Challenge cattle were nearing their time in the feedlot at Willyung Farm in Albany as participants were informed of post finish weight gains prior to the processing sector of the competition.
Camera IconThe Harvey Beef Gate 2 Plate Challenge cattle were nearing their time in the feedlot at Willyung Farm in Albany as participants were informed of post finish weight gains prior to the processing sector of the competition. Credit: Countryman

WA’s biggest feedlotting competition is nearing the processing stage with just one week left for cattle to gain weight in the Harvey Beef Gate 2 Plate Challenge.

Overall and category winners are set to be announced at an awards presentation at the Centennial Stadium in Albany on June 11.

Participants were able to check out the competition at the annual Gate 2 Plate Challenge field day at Willyung Farm feedlot near Albany last Tuesday.

At the event, Willyung Farm manager Sandy Lyon said the 62 teams — comprising two steers and one heifer — were experiencing a good finish thanks to a good season.

He said entrants — this year from Geraldton to Esperance — had selected good cattle and created an even competition for weight gains.

“All the cattle have all been bred very well,” Mr Lyon said.

“It is a credit to the competitors, who understand what the feedlot requires to achieve profitable results.”

The rules are simple — each team enters three steers and heifers, with the groups fed the same diet for about three months at a feedlot at Willyung Farms near Albany.

Heifers are put on feed for 72 days and steers for 85 days, with cattle proceeded and graded at Harvey Beef.

Each animal is scored individually, with 50 points for feedlot performance, 50 points for processing and 25 points for MSA grading.

Harvest Road agriculture general manager Kim McDougall said the high number of entries was testament to cattle farmers’ desire to improve.

Mr Lyon said there had been six different winners during the competition’s seven years, with some participants having repeat wins for individual categories.

“This shows how even and tight the competition has been, with only a few points separating the top placers,” he said.

The 186 head of cattle were inducted into the feedlot on January 19 with all 62 teams averaging 336kg/head (heifers averaged 335kg and steers 336kg).

Weights taken on March 22, or day 63, consisted of team averages weighing 436kg/head (heifers averaged 428kg and steers 441kg).

The March weighing had the 62 teams average a gain of 100kg/head, or an average 1.59kg daily gain, with heifers having another nine days to finish in the feedlot and steers having another 17 days to go.

The heifers finished their 72-day feedlot competition on Wednesday and the steers will complete their 85-day feedlot component 13 days later on April 13.

All the cattle will be processed at Harvey Beef and will be Meat Standards Australia graded.

Gate 2 Plate co-ordinator Sheen Smith said the cattle would receive points for objective measurable performance traits which were important for profitability across the supply chain.

“The overall winning team is the one which is most profitable through the supply chain,” she said.

“In our seventh year, participants have gained a better understanding of feeding cattle and consumer expectations for retail beef.”

As of March 22, two of the leading teams for weight gain were tied with both teams gaining an average weight of 134kg, or 2.13kg average daily gain.

The teams included a pure Angus team from participant AS & M Campbell, of Keysbrook, and a mixed crossbred team (Gelbvieh cross Greyman and Angus cross Brangus) from Mountain Valley Livestock, in Narrikup.

Bruce Campbell said his team of pure Angus was selected for the competition based on their carcase and evenness of fat cover.

“I selected an even line and in the weight range of between 350 and 360kg,” he said.

“The steers were sired by my home-bred Cooara bulls and the heifer was AI sired by Musgrave Stunner, a North American sire.”

Mr Campbell’s best-performing steer put on 155kg after 63 days.

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