A pen of black baldy/Limousin steers has been recognised as the champion team in this year's Woolworths Feedlot Trial.
The competition returned with record entries after a few years hiatus, with 220 steers from vendors across NSW nominated.
The cattle were inducted at Alexander Downs feedlot, Merriwa, on June 9 and were sent for kill on October 6.
The on the hoof component was judged as part of the Merriwa Springtime Show in September by Matt Spry, Spry's Shorthorn and Angus, Holbrook.
A presentation night was then held at Alexander Downs on Friday to announce the winners of the hook component and the overall champions of the competition, judged by Brett Littler, Mudgee.
Class one featured cattle with an induction weight between 225 to 270 kilograms.
The hook component was won by John and Ainsley Maben, Bangalore, Merriwa, with their pen of black baldy/Limousin steers.
The Carrigan family, Bow Forest, Merriwa, was second with a pen of Limousin/Herefords and J and S Andrews, Tugrabakh, were third with their pen of Angus steers.
Class two, for cattle with induction weights between 271kg and 310kg, was won by Hardwyck, Merriwa, with a pen of Limousin/Angus steers.
DJ and A Farrell, Grafton, were second with a pen of straight Angus steers and Rosedale Charolais, Blayney, in third with a pen of Charolais/Angus.
John and Ainsley Maben were awarded the champion pen and also won the highest point score on the hook, with reserve champion pen going to the Carrigans.
The champion carcase went to DJ and A Farrell for an Angus steer while LD Holdings, Braunstone, was reserve for a Charolais-cross.
The most successful exhibitor in hoof and hook was awarded to Hardwyck their Limousin/Angus, which were also recognised as the champion pen in the hoof competition.
The Millner family, Blayney, won the highest weight gain category at an average of 2.5kg a day.
James Millner said the winning pen was a pen of black Charolais/Angus composites.
The Millner family also won the highest profitability category at $293 per head for a different pen of Charolais/Angus by their Rosedale herd sires.
"It's always nice to do well but it is a bit of commercial relevance which our stud program is focused on," he said.
"We like to put our animals to the test and over time you can identify things that are working and things that aren't.
"It's just a good way of putting it out there and getting a good comparison against other producers and other teams and other breeds."
He praised the committee for running such a good competition.
The overall rankings took into account induction scores, feedlot performance and carcase specifications with a maximum score of 200 points per animal or 600 per team.
The Mabens were first with a total score of 500.8. Wallings Pastoral, Cassilis, were second on 483 with their Angus steers, and Hardwyck third on 481.7.
D and K Goodyear, Cassilis, were fourth with their Limousin/Angus steers on 472.6 and the Carrigan family, Merriwa, were fifth on 471.8.
The Carrigans also won the highest dressing percentage category.
Stephen Gill of Alexander Downs said he was stoked with the result, with his Hardwyck steers placing third and sixth overall.
He used Warrigal bloodlines from the Wingham Limousin stud and Millah Murrah Angus cows.
"We're going and buying the best bulls we can and it's showing," he said.
"The steers we put in, they're the sort of cattle we're trying to breed.
"They've got the package of the muscle, the softness, the meat-eating quality.
"To get up on the hook and the hoof - that class two was a strong class with those heavy steers. It was good to see actually."
He was also pleased with how the rest of the competition went, with nearly all the steers hitting the specifications and recording an average daily weight gain of 1.9kg.
It was exciting to have a record number of entries in a drier season, he said.
The cattle were all penned on display at the Merriwa Springtime Show for the hoof judging, which drew a big crowd and provided an important boost to the local community.
"It's great to have the program flowing," he said.
"To turn the steers around in 96 days to show day - our name's on the line.
"People came across the state to see the steers on showday, it was great to see."
Some of the steers were in lesser condition on entry given the poor season, but it was a credit to the feed regime that they were able to pick up so well, he said.
Having the steers inducted in June meant conditions weren't ideal, with cattle having to deal with a miserable winter and then fluctuating temperatures in spring.
But having challenges like that was what made the competition so commercially relevant for vendors, he said.
Judge Brett Littler said there was some very good bodies presented with heavy marbling and good cover.
He noted there was big variation in carcase attributes across the trial, with the poor season a likely contributor.
There was a good range of breeds represented with crossbred cattle featuring in a lot of the prizes.
Mr Littler said the competition provided vendors with useful feedback.
"It is a really good commercial competition this one, we've got a few seedstock people who put their animals in their to get feedback, but also commercial producers who are trying to get that information to make some improvements to their own breeding at home," he said.
"This is a really big show for a small country town.
"It was really quite pleasing that there was over 70 teams there together and I'm really glad that people found it worthwhile."
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