Top of the class for Murdoch steer

Rebecca TurnerCountryman
With the grand champion led steer, a 520kg Shorthorn cross Angus Belgium Blue, are judge Craig Gapes, buyer Jim Quilty, handler and Murdoch student Sarah Pitcher and associate judge Thomas Spencer.
Camera IconWith the grand champion led steer, a 520kg Shorthorn cross Angus Belgium Blue, are judge Craig Gapes, buyer Jim Quilty, handler and Murdoch student Sarah Pitcher and associate judge Thomas Spencer. Credit: Rebecca Turner

A Murdoch University steer won the grand champion led steer or heifer award at this year’s IGA Perth Royal Show with a 520kg Shorthorn cross Angus Belgium Blue.

The competition, which had 73 entries, was judged by Craig Gapes of Triple M Red Angus stud in northern NSW. Mr Grapes runs both a commercial and stud operation of 110 cows with his wife Renae on their property in Kyogle.

Throughout the judging of the led steer and heifer classes, Mr Gapes was focused on rewarding properly finished cattle, with particular attention paid to the amount of fat cover on each animal, which research has proved is essential for good eating quality.

The stud operator was impressed with the university’s heavyweight exhibit as soon as he walked in the ring, and said that the steer oozed quality and was very free moving.

“For such a heavily muscled steer to be so free moving, this means he is very well balanced,” Mr Gapes said.

“He is a beautifully shaped steer and is very soft, I think he will tick all the boxes, he has good length and, I think, will be high yielding.”

Mr Gapes judged all weight classes for degree of finish, structural correctness and muscle content.

He said he was focused on awarding exhibits that showed the carcase attributes needed to guarantee good eating quality.

“It is very important cattle have a good even fat cover and finish so we can give people a good eating experience,” Mr Gapes said.

“We are producing protein and competing against other types of meat such as chicken and pork. As an industry we can’t afford to let people buy steak and not have a good eating experience, especially given the current high price of beef.”

Murdoch’s grand champion led steer was purchased at Mt Barker saleyards by Jim Quilty of Elgin Park Charolais stud earlier this year and had spent 90 days on feed through the university’s led steer and heifer program.

Mr Quilty said it was the first time he had brought this steer and a second for the tertiary institution to enter the Perth Royal Show contest.

As well as running Elgin Park Charolais stud with his wife Belynda on their property in Capel, Mr Quilty works for Mitchell’s Transport and regularly attends South West cattle sales.

He said Kim Thomas of Murdoch had approached him to keep an eye out for any good steers or heifers suitable to enter into this year’s Perth Royal Show led steer or heifer competition.

The university was also awarded the reserve grand champion led steer or heifer title and champion medium weight led steer or heifer sash for its pure Limousin steer, which the university bred. The 452kg steer had also spent 90 days on feed.

When being judged in his weight class, Mr Gapes said the Limousin steer was a credit to its breeders.

“This is an example of a European breed oozing quality and softness,” he said. “He ticks all the boxes, he is beautiful across the back and I think will have good yield.”

Mr Gapes said when placing the steer as the reserve grand champion that the steer was very appealing to the eye.

“He is very, very soft and oozes quality, he has a beautiful butt profile, there are no holes in this exhibit,” he said.

Mr Gapes also gave credit to both the champion lightweight and champion extra heavyweight steers when they were presented for the grand champion award.

He said both steers also ticked all the boxes he was looking for when it came to degree of finish, structural correctness and muscle content.

The champion extra heavyweight steer ribbon was awarded to Andrew, Anne and Harris Thompson’s Murray Grey, Charolais and Angus cross steer, which was 576kg and had spent 130 days on feed.

Harris Thompson said the steer was by one of their home-bred Charolais bulls, Bundaleer Jack Frost. Mr Gapes said the extra heavyweight steer was very well balanced and a quality exhibit with good fat cover.

This year’s champion lightweight steer was won by Gary Dimasi’s Charolais cross Murray Grey exhibit.

The steer was bred by Hayden Ballantyne of Hopeland and fed at Mr Dimasi’s feedlot Paradise Beef for 90 days.

Mr Gapes said the 400kg steer had a great top-line and beautiful length as well as good fat cover.

Grand champion and champion heavyweight:Shorthorn cross Angus-Belgium Blue, Murdoch University

Reserve grand champion and champion medium weight:Limousin, Murdoch University

Reserve champion heavyweight:Angus, WA College of Agriculture — Denmark

Reserve champion medium weight:Limousin, Michael Mamo

Champion extra heavyweight:Murray Grey-Charolais-Angus cross, Andrew, Anne and Harris Thompson ; reserve:Poll Shorthorn, Black Dog Charity Ride

Champion lightweight:Charolais cross Murray Grey, Gary Dimasi ;' reserve:Limousin cross Murray Grey, James and Cassey Morris'

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