Challenge met by Brunswick

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Bob GarnantThe West Australian
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Raising the bar, a Brunswick beef producer has set the benchmark in the inaugural Harvey Beef Gate 2 Plate Feedlot Challenge.

Owner-bred cattle consisting of 60 pen entries from all parts of WA were placed in an Albany feedlot for 77 days and then processed to determine the most profitable outcomes.

John and Mary Galati and their son Rodney were surprised on Friday when they were announced as overall winners at an awards function in Denmark.

Rodney said all credit went to his father's shrewd 52-years of dairy experience. "He taught me all I know about cattle," Rodney said.

"Dad was sceptical our cattle would not be competitive against the quality of the Great Southern types, but we were leading after 56 days on feed and at the 77-day finish our team averaged 2kg/day."

John said it was the genetics that won the competition.

"Calves bred from a Limousin bull will always do well," he said.

"In our feedlot enterprise we found the Limousin sire will produce more consistent performance in its calves, especially over a cross-type selection of cows."

The Galatis also use Charolais bulls over their top cows, but those calves are more suited to the heavy-fed grain market.

At the recent national beef competition held at Beef 2015 in Rockampton, Queensland, the Galatis' Charolais/Angus cross calves placed third in the grain-fed heavy steer/heifer competition.

John said in their selection process for the Gate 2 Plate Challenge, they selected a team of two steers and one heifer on sound structure, all sired by an Aldgate Limousin bull and out of pure Angus first calvers as the competition was geared more for the lighter carcase domestic market.

"We use both Angus and Murray Grey females which contribute good milk and conformation," he said.

John said an important preparation was backgrounding the team on grass for one month which prepared the nine and 10-month-old calves' rumen before entering the feedlot.

The Galatis have a licence for a 1000-head feedlot, which has been going strong since the dairy was finished six years ago, but they have always fed cattle.

Rodney said the 480ha farm, consisting of two properties with irrigated paddocks, carries 340 breeders, some of which are first-cross and carry a bit of the Friesian influence from the dairy.

"We are opportunity cattle buyers and attend the major saleyards looking for reasonably priced females and feeders," he said. "We have always worked on fine margins and feedlotting comes with an element of risk so we must be very careful not to overcommit," he said.

"We expect if higher prices continue to hold, the cattle market will become very fierce.

"I have concerns for the future, especially with the closure of the Boyanup saleyard in six years' time, which may affect the supply of cattle in the South West."

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