Trade steers miss specifications with rise in pH, meat colour

Sydney Royal 19: Trade and purebred carcase results feedback

Sydney Royal Cattle
Steers in the purebred steer competition at the 2019 Sydney Royal Show during the live judging. Photo by Rachael Webb.

Steers in the purebred steer competition at the 2019 Sydney Royal Show during the live judging. Photo by Rachael Webb.


Feedback from the 2019 Sydney Royal Show trade and purebred competitions.


THE Sydney Royal Carcase competitions this year saw a significant decrease in the average, winning and champion point scores throughout the competition, especially in the trade cattle section where pH, fat and meat colour impacted results.

Running since 2011, the trade section had only 39 per cent of cattle fell in the optimum specificaion of 240 to 300 kilograms with 9mm up to 13mm of fat, and received full points, while 84pc fell in the broader box.

Only 45pc were in the optimum, with 21pc underweight and 34pc overweight.

RAS councillor and carcase award presenter Alastair Rayner said Woolworths buyers were disappointed with the number of trade cattle going through the specifications, to be to heavy.

"Their question was what do you do with those cattle then?" he said.

"From a commercial perspective, which is what this (trade) competition is about, people need to focus the skills used in normal environments to keep within specifications which is where you get paid.

"Cattle that over perform and go through the specifications will be worth less to a processor."

In fat specifications for P8, 71pc fell into the optimum with 11pc over and 18pc under fat. This meant 6pc more cattle were over fat compared to 2018.

There was quite a significant trend upwards for pH with 21 per cent of cattle with a pH greater than 5.71,

This was reflective in meat colour (MC) with it being the worst year for carcases hitting the MC3 or greater bracket with 39pc in this range, up 20pc on the previous year. Only 39pc were in the optimum MC2 range and 21pc were seen as MC1b to 1c.

Producers were encouraged to think about the preparation and management of cattle before coming to the show, and how they are working to reduce stress and effectively help the animals adjust to the changes and movements.

The average point score in the trade carcases were significantly down from 73.2 points in 2018 to 69.3 points in 2019 - the second lowest in the 10 years the competition has been running.

The champions were also back this year, scoring 88.8 compared to 91.8 in 2018.

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In the trade no gold medals were awarded, only four silver and four bronze medals, while in the purebred section four golds, 23 silvers and 62 bronze medals were presented.

Mr Rayner said the amount of bronze medals awarded could be close to a record.

Purebred carcases were described as an even group of cattle, with a few shooting through with over fatness.

"Lightweight cattle tend to be very lean and didn't hit specs - a third of the cattle were under fat," Mr Rayner said.

At the P8 site 56pc were within specs, 12pc were over and a high 32pc were under fat.

There was a 29pc trend upwards in carcases in the 5.6 to 5.7pH range, with 32pc there compared to the 3pc of 2018. Only 3pc were pH 5.7 or greater.

Marbling was different in the carcases this year with 45pc in the marble score 2 or greater bracket, an increase of 26pc on 2018.

Average points in the purebreds were 78.3, back on 80.5 in 2018.

To get a class win carcases had to score 88.3, 1.9 points less than last year. Similarly, to receive a champion ribbon they had to score 2 points less than 2018 at 90.1.


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