Boonaroo, which also runs prime lamb, was chosen from 50 entries in this year’s challenge by judge Bob Dent; Eloora Shorthorns, Hamilton were chosen as reserve champion.
Boonaroo principal Shane Foster accepted the $3000 first prize with wife Jodie, and children Claire and Tom, at celebratory dinner, in Bendigo, to mark the end of Stock and Land’s Beef Week.
“We have probably moved towards a lot of New Zealand and Australian genetics, more so than such a dependence on American genetics, but we have probably jus focussed a bit more on do-ability, putting a little bit more fat cover on our animals,” Mr Foster said.
“As we strive for more and more profitability for our businesses, we are running more and more stock per hectare, we are trying to grow more beef on less feed – which is great – but the payoff is that sometimes those animals come under more pressure, whether that be in the drought, or a failed autumn break.
“We have just found the ability to put condition on a bit quicker, which has helped with fertility and being able to turn those livestock off at any time for markets, so producers don’t have to carry them for too long.”
Mr Foster said genetics was the greatest reason behind this year’s win.
“That’s one of the great things about breed plan and structural assessment, you are able to identify those animals that have a natural propensity to carry extra fact cover,” he said.
Genetic improvements meant seed stock producers could breed animals with good fat cover and eye muscle area – “so you are getting the best of both worlds.”
“It’s about balance, our profit relies on us being able to have fertile females and being able to get those females back in calf, regardless of the season; it’s a matter of finding that balance of what is good for the industry, but you also need to have animals which can stand up to all conditions.”
Judge Bob Dent, who has previously presided over competitions in America, New Zealand and Brazil, said he was impressed by the commercially viable herds he had seen.
“They were heifers that had been put under pressure and were showing every sign of being productive, given that sort of challenge,” Mr Dent said.
“They were structurally sound and needed to appear maternal so we had some wonderful herds, preg-tested in calf early, and just a delight to observe, big bodied heifers - it was a wonderful opportunity to have a look around.”
Mr Dent said six different breeds were represented in the top ten finalists.
“Boonaroo heifers were structurally correct, well grown, visually maternal and developing up for lactation; they had good heads and shoulders, long bodies and wonderfully set up hips and pins,” he said.
He said there was very little difference between Boonaroo and Eloura.
Five of the top ten finalists were also in the top ten last year.
Judging took place between January 27 and February 4.