Technology top at Westech steer trial

Inaugural Westech steer trial hailed a success


Commercial
Westech steer trial convenor, Tom Chandler, and Mort and Co's Brett Campbell congratulate Bill Burton for his overall win in the Westech steer trial.

Westech steer trial convenor, Tom Chandler, and Mort and Co's Brett Campbell congratulate Bill Burton for his overall win in the Westech steer trial.

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The latest paddock technology gave participants in the first ever Westech steer trial a unique insight into the way their cattle performed.

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The latest paddock technology gave participants in the first ever Westech steer trial a unique insight into the way their cattle performed.

Results were shared and trophies handed out during the Westech Field Days in Barcaldine recently, with Jericho’s Robyn Adams winning the grassfed section with her Stratford entry showing a 36.39 per cent increase in weight gain.

They were followed by the entry from Ashra at Muttaburra, with a 27.5pc weight gain, and the Burton family at Saltern Creek, Barcaldine, having a 26.67pc weight gain.

The Saltern Creek cattle, Charolais cross, powered ahead in the feedlot section, along with the entry from Ben Simpson at Thistlebank, Aramac.

Ben’s cattle topped the rankings in percentage weight gain and average daily gain categories, showing a 62.75pc gain at an average of 2.4kg a day.

They also came out on top in the carcase score section on 94.58, just topping Saltern Creek on 93.68, and the Chandler family from Kyneton on 92.26.

Once all the different sections were put together, Saltern Creek took the overall win on 30 points.

The runner-up was Thistlebank on 27, closely followed by Doug and Jan Bradshaw of Red Range at Wandoan on 25.

One of the organisers, DAF beef extension officer, Kiri Broad, said there was nothing more important for producers than embracing new technology to combat the broken record of rising costs and slim margins.

“The trial was an example of how we can put the technology of Westech to practical use,” she said.

Thanks to walk-over weighing, recently commercialised by Tru-Test, participants were able to have to-the-minute information.

“Everyone tested the limits of the data in a commercial sense,” she said.

While pasture quality at Kyneton, where the 72 cattle were run for 100 days from February to May, didn’t drop enough during that period for the cattle to lose weight, Kiri said there were still learnings.

“The pasture greenness indicator really dropped a month later, but the big learning was that while the loss of a body condition score is 30kg, we usually don’t start seeing that visually until they’ve already lost 20kg,” she said. “Using this, you could start supplementing sooner, and not make so many decisions based on assumptions.”

Some other observations that were confirmed with the technology were times of watering, with the mob always having a morning drink.

“The learning from that is, don’t run out of water overnight,” Kiri said. “And at hotter times, 38 degrees and above, more cattle forewent an afternoon drink and started coming in around midnight.”

Half of the Stratford team were HGP treated and half weren’t, in a test, with the three treated ones showing a total weight difference of 108kg.

Westech steer trial convenor, Tom Chandler, congratulates Robyn Adams for her win in the grassfed section.

Westech steer trial convenor, Tom Chandler, congratulates Robyn Adams for her win in the grassfed section.

There was plenty of information from the Grassdale feedlot as well, where Mort and Co’s Brett Campbell said the results were fairly typical of what they normally feed.

“Co-mingling is a very positive thing to do,” he said, commenting on the mob’s health and adaptation to lotfeeding.

He said they gained less weight than their average statistics, but ate less, so did better.

After 100 days on feed, the cattle were killed at Dinmore and MSA data collected.

Mr Campbell said Mort and Co had been happy to participate and hoped to do the same again in the future, with a bigger mob.

“We are always looking for an opportunity to showcase our feedlot, and without trials like this, your work at home isn’t as transparent,” he said.

Kiri said there were still unanswered questions, such as why some cattle did well on grass but not as well on grain, and going forward, was hoping to organise a producer group made up of participants to explore these aspects in more depth.

Exhibitor ranking based on percentage weight gain (grassfed):

  • Stratford – 36.39
  • Ashra – 27.5
  • Saltern Creek – 26.09
  • Kyneton – 26.09
  • Red Range – 25.5
  • Jaccondoll – 24.45
  • Garfield – 24.21
  • Leichhardt – 19.5
  • Patrisha Downs – 19.25
  • Thistlebank – 18.08
  • Fernhill – 17.8
  • Taree – 17.66

Exhibitor ranking based on percentage weight gain (feedlot)

  • Thistlebank – 62.75
  • Red Range – 60.79
  • Taree – 56.52
  • Saltern Creek – 56.27
  • Jaccondoll – 55.05
  • Stratford – 53.15
  • Fernhill – 52.86
  • Leichhardt – 50.71
  • Kyneton – 48.93
  • Garfield – 48.34
  • Patrisha Downs – 47.86
  • Ashra – 44.52
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