The Nicolls family's stud Tookawhile Charolais, Rukenvale via Kyogle, claimed title of champion led steer and winning carcase, as judged under the Meat Standards Australia rules during Casino Beef Week.
To comply with MSA rules governing the length of time between an animal leaving its home paddock and being killed, the liveweight event was held under lights on Wednesday night for the first time which confounded some more comfortable with a Saturday morning showdown, but given the proximity of a pub and the desire to shout their mates those qualms were soon allayed.
Champion steer on the hoof was a medium-weight Charolais calf weighing 428 kilograms, described by judge Tim Bayliss as "purposeful" with good thickness through the chest.
This winning steer, sired by Tookawhile Piccadilly Punch, went on to sell for the top price of 2500 cents a kilogram, to repeat Tookawhile buyer and Angus breeder Mike Smith, Adrigoole, Woodenbong.
Nicole Nicholls praised the new Wednesday night format, which allowed led steers to be killed next morning and graded according to MSA guidelines - which stipulate animals must be killed no more than 24 hours from leaving home.
Tookawhile also won reserve medium weight and heavy weight reserve champion steers but it was with reserve placegetter in the medium weight category, 401-450kg, a Limousin, that scored the top overall points of 89.75, selling for 1600c/kg and led by Murray Nicholls while the winning heavyweight steer, over 550k and weighing in at 689kg, also a Limousin, slipped behind by a whisker to register 89.74 pts, selling for 1040c/kg.
A Murray Grey over Limousin/Charolais prepared by the Dean family, Mallanganee, 608kg, placed third in the carcase competition on 88.49ptys, selling for 1180c/kg after placing fourth in its class on the hoof.
A Limousin over Shorthorn/Charbray, 396kg prepared by the Royal Flush Steer Syndicate led by Inverell cattleman Bailey Gardiner, scored 88.19pts. It placed second in its class behind a Limousin over Santa Gertrudis/Hereford steer from the O'Reilly family, Iron pot Creek via Kyogle, who combined forces in this year's production to take out reserve light weight champion with that steer and overall lightweight champion and reserve overall champion with an Angus cross calf 336kg that sold for 1580c/kg. Second placed lightweight also went to the O'Reilly family with a Limousin/Santa/Hereford with sisters Olivia and Amanda preparing one each.
"The secret to winning is working together," said Mark O'Reilly, noting the combined team that included his wife Paula and son Blake with his wife Holly, overcame a difficult season to record great results.
"We had four butchers ring us up before the auction," Mr O'Reilly said. "The season started good but the last three or four months it went pear-shaped. Calves lost weight during the flood and it was hard to put that back. Everyone was the same.
Most of the family's calves were bred at home but the champion lightweight steer caught the experienced eye of Olivia O'Reilly during a sale at the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange.
"He was in amongst a pen of 18 calves and I walked past him and picked him out. He had a soft body and good top line following down through the thigh and flank and I stopped right there and said - he could do it!"
Heavy weight steer was awarded to the Grant family's Downfall Limousins, Wilsons Downfall via Stanthorpe, with a Limousin 542kg, selling for 1440c/kg.
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