The carcass quality and compliance rates of Hereford genetics have helped Jim and Angela Schutz to a top three finish in the South Australian MSA Awards.
The couple switched from dairy to beef production eight years ago, and use Hereford bulls over F1 females to produce vealer calves for the supermarket trade.
Jim and Angela, of Victor Harbour, were named in the state’s top three producers from 800 entries in the Meat & Livestock Australia’s Meat Standards Australia Excellence in Eating Quality Awards.
During 2014-15, almost 13,000 producers throughout Australia consigned over 3.2 million cattle to the MSA program.
The awards recognise outstanding compliance rates to the MSA specifications, as well as high eating quality performance, as represented by MSA Index results from cattle MSA graded during 2014-15.
Mr and Mrs Schutz run 100 Angus-Friesian cross females with 700 first-cross and Merino ewes, and cereal hay production.
Mr Schutz aims to have his February-March drop calves finished off improved pastures and irrigated lucerne, supplemented with cereal hay, to 450-460kg liveweight, by 10 months of age.
Last year, his top Hereford-cross calf weighed 510kg and dressed at 295kg to return $1600.
“I have been supplying Woolworths for 30 years and I target 75-80 per cent of the calves to meet the weight criteria of 220kg dressed by late November or December,’’ Mr Schutz said.
“When selecting Hereford bulls, I look for a maximum rump fat depth of 9-10mm as I rely on the milk side of the cows to finish the calves.
“I select bulls on length as this has allowed me to increase dressed weights from 205-210kg to 235-240kg – last year I was able to average 235kg on 55 steer calves.
“Average yield has been 52-56 per cent with an average MSA Index of 64 plus.’’
Mr Schutz pays attention to nutrition and management, and ensures the cattle are kept stress free.
“The top three producers were within a decimal point of each other and all ex dairy farmers,’’ he said.
‘Some say fertiliser is proving to be a factor but I believe it could be nutrition and management, structural conformation and temperament of the bulls.
“I weigh the calves three to four weeks before they are due to go to Thomas Foods International.
“A round bale of hay goes in with the calves and their mothers, and they receive hay up until they go on the truck.
“I do all the stock work myself so the cattle are quiet and never had a dog on the place.
“We believe the lack of stress in the cattle got us over the line in this award.’’