Testing the best in brangus
IT'S a competition that unites the brangus industry while encouraging the very best breeders to vie against each other.
Prime steers from across the country have been entered in the 100-day Brangus Carcase Competition, which is already under way at Waterfall Feedlot, Goomeri.
As the competition welcomes all industry members, the Rural Weekly caught up with a stud breeder from Wowan, Queensland, who will be in the running for a top prize, and a commercial grazing family from Dululu, who are just excited to be able to benchmark their cattle against the industry's best.
Brad Saunders, who runs and owns Pheasant Creek Brangus alongside his wife Nicole and four children Rory, Tyler, Corey and Blake, is entering the competition for a consecutive year.
When drafting off his competition steers, he said there were a few qualities he was looking for.
"You have to make sure that they are quiet. They need to have a very good temperament,” he said.
"They need to be structurally correct in their feet and legs, and have a good frame. A steer with really great feet and legs can handle being fed in the feedlot.”
Pheasant Creek Brangus is based on Thendara, a property that has been in family hands for 104 years. In the early 2000s, the family decided they wanted to get a foothold into the seed-stock industry, but needed a breed that would value-add to their commercial operation.
Brangus was the breed they chose, and they had "not regretted making that decision”, Brad said.
"Brangus were the ones that were attracting all the premiums at the sales and feedlots,” he said.
While Brad is keen to see how his genetics compare to his peers, a Dululu grazing family not far away from him is thoroughly looking forward to receiving feedback about their cattle.
Katrina Brown stressed her family, which includes husband Mark and two children, Ava, 6, and Johnny, 3, were not entering the competition chasing "ribbons or trophies”.
"We just wanted to enter it to see how our steers performed, and to learn how we could improve on our herd,” she said.
"We did have some steers ready to go that we thought might be too heavy, but they made the cut.”
All up, the Browns entered 28 head in four different mobs of seven. The top six head in each lot will be the cattle used for judging.
"We drafted them ourselves and tried to liken them to each other, so each group had similar traits,” she said.
"We tried to keep them all with less hump, so we chose cattle with the lesser brahman content. We looked for that overall nice brangus type.”
While Katrina and Mark both grew up working in the cattle industry, their business is relatively new, starting in 2009.
"We started with a predominately brahman-based herd of all liquorice all sorts, and we have eventually been able to breed into a full brangus herd,” she said.
"So our quality is getting better and better.
"We couldn't afford a straight brangus herd to start with, so we just had to work with what we had.”
Running two blocks, one that's mostly ironbark and bloodwood country, and another that's mostly scrub country, brangus cattle suit the family's needs perfectly.
"We breed a medium-framed cow, and they travel well across our harder country,” she said.
"And they are easy to deal with, and that's important to us because we have a young family.”
Ava and Johnny both show keen interest in cattle - working the race is the pair's favourite job.
Meanwhile, back at Pheasant Creek Brangus, the family there are also hard at work as in June this year they will be hosting the Australian Brangus Cattle Association Zone 1 Field Day.
The family have been preparing the property to welcome an influx of industry members.
"My wife Nicole thinks it's pretty great because we are getting a lot of jobs done around the place that she has been hoping to get done for a long time,” Brad joked.
"We are doing a lot of tidying up and making sure we are getting everything in ship-shape.”
All four Saunders kids help out with the stud work.
"They all show cattle and do junior beef every year. They are very involved in all the cattle and horse work,” he said.
For the field day Brad will have some weaner bulls and his best sires on display.
"Visitors will be able to view a range of cattle, including weaner bulls, 2017 sale bulls, two breeder groups and sires,” he said. "Guest speakers on the day will be leading veterinarian and reproduction expert Dr Ced Wise, and representatives from Rabobank.
"The field day is a great opportunity for us to network when there isn't the pressure of a sale.
"Normally the only time we all get together is at a sale.”
Winners for the 2017 Carcase Competition will be held at the Wine and Dine Awards night at the Bracken Ridge Tavern in Brisbane on Wednesday, August 9.