PREMIUM, profitable and high-performing Angus steers have secured an array of top honours for third-time Victorian entrants James and Georgie Knight from Mortlake.
The Knights group of five purebred Angus steers took home the Teys Certified Premium Black Angus champion pen, the top team profit, and the highest individual average daily weight gain.
Coming up to three years since James and Georgie Knight returned to her family property, Dornoch, Mortlake, with the support of her father, Bruce Allen, the Knights continue to trade as RG. Allen and Sons, and choose to annually take part in the NSW Beef Spectacular Feedback Trial to benchmark their business.
“We read about the trial when we first came home and we thought it was a fantastic opportunity to get what we needed to further our business,” Mr Knight said.
“We thought we had decent feeder cattle and a good breeding herd, but until you enter a commercial trial such as this, and have the data, you don’t know.”
With an astounding team profit of $1056.83, they sat at $95.42 above the next highest team from Hicks Beef, Holbrook.
Mr Knight said over the three years they have taken part, the profitability area is interesting him more and more, especially with continuing discussions of values-based marketing.
“At the end of the day, businesses want to make profit – it is all about the dollars and cents, and we are interested in that,” he said.
“We are pleased we can post the most profitable team this year."
Weighing 398 kilograms at entry, the highest individual for average daily weight gain (ADWG) put on 3.16 kilograms per day over its time in the feedlot to weigh 730kg in the end. Other significant ADWGs within the Knights’ top group were 3.07kg/day and 3.03kg/day.
Mr Knight said trial analyst Jeff House’s data showed a correlation of +0.94 between profitability and average daily gain, meaning the variation in profitability was driven by weight gain.
“We have a process we go through with bull selection that helps ensure all involved in the supply chain can make money from our cattle,” he said.
"We focus on the customer, the people buying the cattle so they can make a profit at the other end”.
“My father-in-law has always been big on that – it is important to look past the front gate to the people that are using the cattle.”
Essentially these results also give confidence in the cow herd Mr Knight said, “they are the backbone of the operation”.
“The strength of our cow herd is evident from the results, which gives us confidence as we have ramped up production over the last three years,” he said.
On the Knight’s 983 hectares they own and 331ha they lease, they calve 800 breeders annually.
“For the past four to five years we have used primarily Wattle Top and Murdeduke genetics, and we breed some of our own bulls,” Mr Knight said.
“Traditionally we have mainly been an autumn calving herd, but there are strategies in place to look at changing calving dates.”
In selecting the steers to enter in the trial, Mr Knight said it is more than fair to say that the teams are a representative sample of the draft with a consistent weight.
“In the first year of the trial Georgie and I said if we are marketing 350 to 400 steers annually (direct to feedlots), it is fundamental to take a representative sample at that time of year,” he said.
“We usually put in two teams that have a similar weight in each team.
“For benchmarking purposes, it is a true representative sample of the whole drop without genetics, scanning, figures taken into consideration.”
The Knight’s top-team had an average carcase weight of 387.7 kilograms, an average dressing percentage of 55.5 per cent, an average lean meat yield of 57.2pc, and an average MSA index of 54.98, allowing all five carcases to be branded Teys Premium Black Angus beef.
This is the second time that the Knights have taken out the Teys Certified Premium Black Angus champion pen, also securing the title in 2017.
However, the biggest accomplishment made by the family to date was in 2017, the first year they entered the feedback trial, where they not only won the brand section but went on to secure the grand champion pen of five steers with their Angus team.
Entering two teams this year they also nominated a team of Angus-Shorthorn cross steers, the same cross that allowed them to place fifth overall last year.
“The Shorthorn influence comes from about 10 years ago, Bruce was concerned with the frame of his Angus breeding herd getting a bit small, so some went back to a Shorthorn bull,” he said.
“There are still some Shorthorn influenced females in the herd, but Shorthorn bulls haven’t been used for 10 or so years.
“From a marketing point of view, while the Angus Shorthorn cross do well, I would like to get back to 75 to 100pc Angus to get more return at the other end.”
Driven to ensure their cattle are efficient and perform in the commercial industry, the Knights have been consistent in not finishing outside of the top 30 over the last three years.