IT has been 10 years since the beginning of the annual NSW Beef Spectacular Feedback Trial created as a commercial aspect of the NSW Beef Spectacular Show that was held in Dubbo each year from 2007 to 2012.
This year celebrating 10 years of involvement in the event were the Hicks family from Hicks Beef, Holbrook, and Jonathon Wright from Coota Park Blue E, Woodstock, both of whom have been entering teams into the trial each year since it kicked off.
Looking back on the 10 years, Jon Wright and the team at Coota Park Blue E, have not only supported the trial from the start, but they were runners-up in the first year before going one better in 2011 to take out the title of grand champion pen of five steers.
Mr Wright's success has continued with an exceptional strike rate of numerous top 15, top 10 and top five finishes over the years.
In 2016, Coota Park Blue E teams came third and fourth overall, after also securing reserve champion in the feedlot performance category, which they again were awarded equally alongside Rosedale Livestock Partnership, Blayney, in 2017.
Taking part in any commercial steer competition or trial that they can, Mr Wright believes the Beef Spectacular Feedback Trial and the Australian National Field Day's trial are the most consistent trials allowing producers to benchmark their cattle.
As seedstock producer, Mr Wright said it is important to check what we are producing is a good product - what a waste if they didn't check and it wasn't right.
"It is important to check as a standard against industry, and what other studs and breeds are producing," he said.
Mr Wright said producers are always looking at how they can improve, and this is how Coota Park Blue E do that.
"We always look at the results and look at things we have to improve, whether it be lean meat yield, weight gains or EMA (eye muscle area)," he said.
He also said it is a good way of calibrating the eye and one's ability to judge what is a good animal.
"It can be used as a tool to help align your ability to look at an animal and say it is going to be a good steer," Mr Wright said.
"If you're not checking and aligning your eye with animal selection, how can you continually select your own cattle that will perform."
Exhibiting two pens of their Australian Beef Composite steers this year, Andrew and Anne Hicks, along with their son Tom, from Hicks Beef, Holbrook, came on board to gain feedback and benchmark themselves against others in the industry.
“We joined to get feedback and information on how our cattle perform, to benchmark ourselves against other steers and beef producers,” Anne Hicks said.
Tom Hicks said it is important from a stud perspective to know how their genetics perform in feedlots, for themselves and for their clients.
“It is the best trial in terms of commercial reality as they are run as they would be in a commercial situation. It gives a real sense of how cattle perform,” Mr Hicks said.
“It has helped reaffirm what we already knew – hybrid vigour works. Composite teams, with hybrid vigour, are always up there in the results.”
Over the years, the biggest highlights for Hicks Beef has been their win of the grand champion carcase in 2011, the grand champion pen of steers in 2012, and reserve champion pen overall, champion feedlot performance and champion riverine tendercut award in 2014.
Ms Hicks said they had always had a good response from feedlots they had sold animals too, but going into the trial has allowed them to spread the word among clients and potential bull buyers, on how their cattle perform.
“We don’t have a breed society so we have to do all the promotion, marketing and communications ourselves,” she said.
“By taking part, and doing well it helps us promote our stock and what we are doing, and it really gets us noticed.”