In search of a perfect vealer

Branded veal gets its day in the sun


Beef
Northern Rivers' sun drenched veal is a product worth standardising under MSA, says Northern Co-operative Meat Company's Joe Leven.

Northern Rivers' sun drenched veal is a product worth standardising under MSA, says Northern Co-operative Meat Company's Joe Leven.

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Northern Co-operative Meat Company's second annual veal carcase competition helps develop new standard in young beef.

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FOR the second year in a row the Northern Co-operative Meat Company, Casino, has  judged the best veal carcase under 150 kilogram, with criteria based on a future Meat Standards Australia (MSA) criteria.

Data gleaned from the competition, which included 180 head presented in three lots one month apart, will be used to help create a brand-new MSA definition of Australian veal, which presently flies under the radar when it comes to commodity classification.

NCMC currently sells branded veal products from the Northern Rivers to both major supermarket chains – Woolworth and Coles –  with consumers up and down the eastern seaboard. But the product remains largely unrecognised.

In this year’s competition Saxby Feedlot in the Brisbane Valley placed first, with young Brahman cross cattle finished on grain. Another feed-finisher, Lindsey Carter, Casino, finished second and also rated a mention for best Eye Muscle Area.

“The key objective of this project is to collect data and to work collaboratively with MSA to lift the profile of our veal brands,” said competition co-ordinator Joe Leven, who placed fourth with his own cattle – Hereford finished with access to a creep feeder. 

“Certainly the grain talked in this competition,” Mr Leven said. “However, the competition results allowed vendors to form an opinion as to whether the added production costs justified the enhanced carcass traits.”

NCMC chairman, John Seccombe, and his wife Betty submitted some of their cattle for the competition and rated best weight for maturity with a Senepol/Limousin cross. The Seccombes’ season was also excellent.

Northern Co-operative Meat Company’s veal competition is designed to create more than bragging rights, with its focus to engage the whole supply chain in developing the veal brand.

“The plate is where it matters for the consumer, the back pocket is where it matters for producers and processors,” said Mr Leven. 

“Both of these key drivers were identified within the veal competition judging framework, with points heavily weighted towards MSA eating quality attributes and carcass yield attributes.”

Calves from a diversity of breeds presented with pasture grown holding its own against grain finished vealers.

Calves from a diversity of breeds presented with pasture grown holding its own against grain finished vealers.

Score for grass fed cross bred

The Page family, Heifer Station, Upper Copmanhurst, had an excellent summer to produce quality vealers, sired by terminal Charolais and Angus to Brahman/Hereford first cross mothers, but their consistency in the pen produced results during this year’s Northern Co-operative Meat Company veal carcase competition.

Heifer Station came third overall, beaten only by grain assisted calves, and captured four of the top eight positions with grass fed milk veal.  

The Page family’s vealers were awarded ‘best average MSA Index’, ranking second and third in this category, which equates to eating quality. 

Neighbour, Adam Chapman, Fine Flower, who runs a  similar pasture-fed cross breeding program, with terminal Charolais, was awarded best boning room yield.

Both grass feeders said the level of detailed information given back to them by the meat co-opertative was terrific and was, in fact, the primary motive for entering the competition.

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