TWO NSW-bred steers have caught the attention of meat science experts and industry leaders after producing some of the best Meat Standard Australia indexes in the country.
Gunnedah's Lachlan and Kate James exhibited the champion and reserve champion steers at this year's Wingham Beef Week competition with animals that set a high benchmark for both yields and eating quality standards. The champion Murray Grey cross Angus steer produced a 68.89 MSA index while the reserve Angus steer achieved 68.34 for MSA index.
Based on the two year MSA benchmark reporting of 6.5 million MSA graded animals, the top one percentile in the country scored 67.01. In NSW the top one per cent range was 66.21.
Their MSA marbling scores were also nationally high at 690 and 720, with only about four per cent of cattle scoring above 700.
MSA program manager Sarah Strachan said the James' MSA index scores were quite amazing.
Their balance of yield through weight and eye muscle area and eating quality almost made for the ideal carcase competition animal, she said. The grading results really told the story of their success.
"The ossification scores on those cattle were so low meaning such a young maturity score with such higher marbling and with heavy carcase weights so that's just really a recipe for success," she said.
The James family were a good example of what MSA wanted to achieve, according to Ms Strachan, producers who engage with feedback, connect it back to genetics and drive their index up.
"It's a producer business that's actually looked at feedback over time," she said.
"It's a good example of what can happen when you take on board feedback from various competitions and then feed that back into the genetics program they might have.
"I think they are reaping the benefits of paying attention to feedback, making adjustments through genetics and nutrition and continually getting better and better."
Within the Wingham plant the champion carcase was among the top 0.158 percentile of their MSA graded animals.
Wingham Beef Exports production and sales assistant Jony Hemmingway, who is also a qualified MSA grader, said the low ossification, high marble score and index was impressive for a British breed animal.
Such a premium carcase could be pushed into better markets with the loins and high value cuts in line for domestic sale.
"It would be good if you could see those type of bodies every day," Ms Hemmingway said.
"Often your better eating quality bodies don't seem to yield as well or are not as expressive or well developed muscle but these bodies combined both eating quality attributes along with good saleable meat yield. It was the best of both baskets."
The James family's recent carcase winning steers had quite the obstacles to overcome having been born into dust and then spending 10 and a half hours on the truck to get to the abattoir after a breakdown.
"All the meat science will say if they are stressed when they are young they will have high ossification," Mr James said.
"The truck broke down on the way so they spent 10 and a half hours on the truck to get to the abattoir. I was just going this is going to be disaster...so to have them where they ended up is to me quite remarkable."