After battling severe drought for the past five years, the Atkinson Pastoral Company, Katandra, Hughenden, had plenty to smile about when the results of the first phase of the prestigious RNA to Palate, were announced at the Mort and Co Grassdale Feedlot, Dalby, on Tuesday.
The family partnership including Rob and Donna, son John and wife Bec, daughter Amy and husband Guy Slack-Smith, finished with two firsts and a second place.
Their Angus Droughtmaster cross steers placed first in the 100-day class with an average daily gain (ADG) of 3.11kg. Another Atkinson pen placed second with and ADG of 3.02kg and a similar pen in the 70-day class were the highest individual weight gaining steers with an ADG of 3.94kgs
“This result is really pretty daunting – we are blown away,” a grinning from ear-to-ear Rob Atkinson said.
In normal seasons, the Atkinson family would carry 3000 Droughtmasters breeders, but due to the prolonged drought they had been forced to reduce numbers back to 1500 cows.
However, it was the decision to introduce black Angus bulls over some commercial Droughtmaster breeders that paid them dividends in the competition.
“We introduced bulls bought from Ian and Sally Vivers, Eaglehawk Angus Stud, Glen Innes, NSW some five years ago,” Rob said.
“These bulls came to Hughenden in a raging drought, and it was tough for them and they handled it and got plenty of calves and did everything we asked of them.”
And while Rob was keen to praise the job the Angus bulls had done, he did not forget his much loved Droughtmaster girls.
“Obviously our Droughtmaster cows are fundamental to our overall success,” he said.
“They too have handled the drought, and raised their calves, and travelled thousands of miles on agistment.”
Over the past five years the Atkinson’s 1500 breeders have been scattered over eight different agistment properties.
Two years ago, when these winning Angus/Droughtmaster steers were just baby calves, they were trucked with their Droughtmaster mothers to agistment at Chaloner Park, situated 100km south of Bollon.
They returned to Katandra in time to be weaned, having travelled more than 3000km round trip.
The Atkinsons last entered the Paddock to Palate competition 12 years ago with little success.
“When we saw the advertisement for this year’s event we thought it was a great way to test our cattle with others,” Rob said.
Their success in the competition has reinforced their decision to the introduce the Angus infusion to secure more market specifications.