Judging of the prime cattle classes at the 2017 Royal Queensland Show was not for the faint hearted with a consistent flow of high quality exhibits through the ring.
Cattle were entered from various regions and stewards and spectators alike noted the event’s value as a display of the beef industry’s role in the every day lives of Australians.
Damien Gould, JBS, Roma, was tasked with the undeniably difficult role of judging the day’s nine classes before selecting overall champions.
Mr Gould said he felt privileged to witness cattle of such high caliber take their turn through the ring.
“This was the first time I’ve been asked to judge here at the Ekka and while I haven’t got anything to compare it to previously, it was definitely a tricky job,” he said.
“The cattle entered were exceptional- it was a real credit to the vendors for presenting them the way they have.
“Plenty of entries could have taken out the prizes but I was happy with the judging decisions I arrived at.”
Among the 258 animals yarded for the prime cattle classes the grand champion pen was awarded to Tom and Joy Surawski, Mountain View, Boonah, for their pen of three Limousin cross steers.
The same pen also won the champion pen of three steers or heifers ribbon, rounding out a very successful showing for the Surawski family.
After earlier placing the pen first in their 451kg to 520kg class, Mr Gould said the steers stood out for their evenness as a group and their “extraordinary” length and structure.
“They are three incredible animals. It’s a hard class to judge because you’re pitting different weight ranges against each other but these steers really stood out on their own,” he said.
“They suit their intended market down to the ground.”
Mr Surawski said the steers had been pampered since their arrival at Mountain View as calves from the Silverdale Saleyards.
“They’ve completed 145 days on grain in our feedlot at home and they’ve performed very well for us,” he said.
“We run all the same type of cattle as we find their feed conversion rates are very positive.
“The butchers love them for their yield- we’re achieving yield rates of 60 per cent.”
The Surawskis have been attending and showing cattle at the Ekka for 25 years and while they had seen success with first placings, this was their first champion award.
Mr Surawski said he valued the fellowship of the Ekka and its celebration of agriculture in all its forms.
“Receiving recognition for our work is very rewarding. These steers haven’t been shown before so to win a grand champion award with them is satisfying.”
The reserve grand champion pen award went to Noel and Liz Cook, Moruya Feedlot, Goondiwindi, for their champion pen of six Charolais cross steers.
Mr Gould earlier placed the steers first in their 601kg to 720kg class and complimented the vendors on a job well done.
“The Cook family have enjoyed plenty of success on a lot of occasions and it is always well deserved,” he said.
“This is a lovely soft pen and everything is right about them.”
Mr Cook said he bought the steers from Toogoolawah as weaners and grew them out on grass.
“They’ve since done 100 days in our feedlot and we owe a lot of the credit to our feedlot manager, Ben Fogg, who is an excellent judge of cattle,” he said.
“We attend the Toogoolawah sale every fortnight where I buy cattle for Ben to finish.
“He chose this winning pen from the original mob of 40 purchased- he really has an eye for it.”
Mr Cook said encouraging good temperament in cattle was an integral part of their operation.
“Day to day handling in the feedlot naturally helps but Ben has them so quiet you can put a hand on them and that’s very attractive in a show situation.”
The Cooks supply cattle to Kilcoy processors throughout the year from their 4000 head feedlot.
Local trade weight class
The champion local trade weight steer or heifer was awarded to Brodie and Vicki Budd and Willoise Grazing, Wandoan, for their 510kg Limousin cross steer.
The steer was bought out of the Casino weaner sale and had done 124 days in the Budd family’s on-property feedlot prior to his entry at the Ekka.
Mr Budd said the steer had not received any unique treatment in the lead up to the show but was a naturally quiet, “good doing” animal.
“We bought 400 steers at Casino and I picked him and a few others out for the Ekka while we were processing them,” he said.
“We’ve never won here before but I always go for an animal that looks a little sexy, something that not only suits the market but is nice to look at.”
Jason and Megan Livingstone, Balycasheen Limousin Stud, Maidenwell, won the Queensland Country Life champion single steer with their 688kg purebred Limousin exhibit.
Mr Gould said he admired the steer’s carcase attributes and his smooth movement across the ground.
Prime cattle auction
The auction of all prime cattle took place on Friday with consistent bidding from hotel chains, butchers and supermarkets across the southeast.
The Surawski’s grand champion pen averaging 507kg attracted strong buyer competition and was eventually knocked down to Coles for 455c/kg, returning $2306/hd.
Mr and Mrs Budd’s champion trade weight steer weighing 510kg sold to Masterford Meats for 405c/kg or $2065.
JBS purchased the Livingstone’s champion single steer exhibit for 320c/kg to return $2201.
Mr and Mrs Cook’s champion pen of six steers averaging 645kg sold for 404c/kg to return $2605/hd.
While prices for the remaining pens of prime cattle entries fell back slightly, exhibitors were generally pleased with results given the overall slip in prime and store cattle markets across the state in recent weeks.