For the past 26 years, Shepstone Park has focused on quality both above and below the hide and this philosophy has allowed the Jugiong-based beef cattle operation to again excel in this year's feedback trial.
Returning to the competition, Lynne and Craig Turnbull, who run 380-odd breeders, mainly Angus and Wagyu, received seventh overall as well as reserve champion Riverine Premium Beef pen and fourth in the eating quality awards.
The Angus pen of five scored a total of 707 points and was $856.36 more profitable than the average of all trial teams.
It placed fourteenth for feedlot performance with an average gain of 1.88 kilograms per head per day, and sixth in carcase with an average MSA Index of 65.35, carcase weight of 362.5kg, lean meat yield of 54.94pc, and all steers grading AUS-Meat two or higher for marbling.
Individually, a carcase in the team scored 91.5pts, while another in their second team scored 93pts.
Entering two teams in the trial, Mr Turnbull said the steers were all the result of an artificial insemination (AI) program
"They were sired by Baldridge Forecaster (B160) and out of Dunoon and Rennlyea blood cows which would be Regent bloodlines," he said.
"Because of the drought, we had a lot of cows that didn't get pregnant. Normally we would cull our empty cows, but because we had so many we carried them through empty and joined them at the end of the drought.
"As a result we had good conception, and a lot of good calves to choose from."
Before the drought they were running upwards of 400 cows which dropped to 200 head that they chose to keep and feed throughout the tough times - a decision they are now reaping the rewards of.
Shepstone Park manager Claydon Butt said all maiden heifers and females up to around three-four years of age are joined to Wagyu bulls, while anything older goes to Angus.
"We self-replace out of our Angus-joined female herd," Mr Butt said.
"Wagyu bulls are used for calving ease and marbling, and go over the replacement heifers which come from our best genetics, the quality fertile female lines, that have stayed in the system."
A closed herd, never purchasing in females, Mr Butt said knowing your female genetic base is invaluable.
Aligning with the competition, Shepstone Park targets the feedlot market with Angus progeny sent to Teys and Angus/Wagyu cross cattle going into long-fed program with Stanbroke, Qld.
"We have always had a focus on high-quality meat, so we were advised to stick with Angus and then we put in the Wagyu for the F1 (first-cross) turn off," Mr Turnbull said.
"We find Angus and Wagyu produce great quality, the customer likes them so we have stuck with them."
Mr Turnbull said with feedback from customers that marbling is the most important thing, his breeding program has focused on buying bulls that are phenotypically correct but also exceptional on marbling.
"We've always put an emphasis on marbling and that is why we buy from Dunoon, Rennylea and Te Mania," he said.
"We are very strong on high IMF and when we sell to customers we get good feedback.
"We like to be one of their best suppliers and to do that, we need good bulls and information (such as from this trial) to keep improving our herd."
Shepstone Park had the highest marbling steers of the trial with two carcases grading AUS-Meat marble score four, or MSA marbling scores of 640 and 660.
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