AUSTRALIAN Beef Composites exhibited by Hicks Beef, were again proudly among the top 10 placegetters in the Beef Spectacular Feedback Trial this year, allowing the Hicks family to become one of the most consistent producers in the trial’s history.
Developed by Andrew and Anne Hicks and their son Tom at Annandayle South, Holbrook, over 20 years ago, Tom Hicks said they created the composite with the aim of getting more hybrid vigour and more kilograms beef produced per hectare.
Running about 1250 breeders, including 1000 stud cows, mainly composites but also purebred Red Angus females, they aim to sell 200 bulls annually through private paddock sales and across their Autumn and Spring bull sales.
The Hicks family each year have taken part in the trial since it began, this year entering two pens of composite steers both of which were successful in placing in the top 10 of the competition.
Coming in third place, with a total of 823.5 points overall and the second highest total profit of $961.41 was a team of composites with entry weights between 386 and 416 kilograms.
The steers registered an average daily weight gain of 2.77kg per head per day, with one putting on an impressive 3.09kg/day. By the end of the period on feed, they weighed between 732 and 650 kilograms.
This feedlot performance scored 330 points and placed them eighth overall for feedlot performance.
In the carcase section, the team placed fourth with 393.5 out of 550 points. They recorded an average dressing percentage of 56.2 per cent, an average lean meat yield of 55.82pc and an average MSA Index of 55.92.
Three steers within the group measured two for Aus-Meat marbling, and were Riverine Premium Beef branded.
The other team entered from Hicks Beef received eighth overall with a total point score of 807.5 from the possible 1000, and a profit of $377.44.
With a team performance score of 391.5 out of 550 for the carcase section, they received eighth out of the 95 teams and for feedlot peformance they were tenth with 320 points from 350.
The Hicks’ highest carcase score was 88 out of 110, and their highest individual animal’s total score was 177.5 from a possible 200.
All the Hicks’ animals’ pedigree and data is anaylsed through International Genetic Solutions (IGS), the only true multi-breed data base in the world that incorporates genomics.
“It is cutting edge, it links so many cattle internationally. We would be happy to do it in Australia but there is no equivalent,” Mr Tom Hicks said.
“It presents genomically enhanced, multi-breed EPDs (Expected Progeny Differences).”
Two animals from Hicks Beef ranked highly and took out the top two spots for the All Purpose Index (API) this year on the IGS system.
“It (the API) is focused on the supply chain, so getting the most for the cow/calf producer, but also ensuring the feedlot can make money,” he said.
“It is a conception to the rail index.”
10 years of trial success
The Hicks family 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.”