WITH rebounding market prices and hot demand for cattle from northern buyers, southern Australian seedstock producers are gearing up for an active selling year.
In preparation for an exciting year, more than 220 studs, representing 30 breeds, will showcase their herds and sale bulls during the 24th Stock & Land Beef Week from January 27 to February 4.
Hailed as the premier beef open day across the country, Beef Week provides beef producers with an opportunity to market, showcase and select genetics for their breeding operations.
The third annual RASV Beef Week Heifer Challenge will be vied for by more than 50 studs who will present a pen of 10 two-year-old replacement heifers to be judged.
The Heifer Challenge, which has a prize pool of $4500, has quickly established a reputation as the elite female stud competition in southern Australia that promotes the importance of breeding elite females.
The inaugural year was won by Riga Angus, Mansfield, while Table Top Angus, near Albury, NSW, took out the prestigious championship last year.
With 53 years' of experience as a cattle judge, Scotsman Jack Woodbourn, Forbes, NSW said the power of the maternal pedigree could never be overestimated.
"It is an interesting concept that I am quite excited about – the power of the maternal pedigree has been underestimated for many years and it so relevant today as they are the future of our industry," Mr Woodbourn said.
He said judging would be predominantly on phenotype with a focus on females that would impact the industry.
"I'm looking for cattle that are going to benefit the Australian beef industry who are competing against the wider meat industry,
"That means we need functional cattle that survive under testing conditions – I'll look at doing-ability, structural correctness, functionality and of course modern maternal instincts are critical for a future breeder.
"It is important the young cattle can convert feed efficiently and rear a calf every 12 months."
Starting on Tuesday, January 27, in the North-East Riverina, a procession of beef cattle enthusiasts will follow the Beef Week trail for nine days concluding on Wednesday, February 4, in the Goulburn Valley-Western Riverina.
Beef Week director Geoff Phillips said it was a great opportunity for seedstock and commercial producers to compare breeds and studs before making buying decisions this sale season.
"Many sell privately on the day and for many studs it is their major marketing day of the year, while others display the bulls catalogued for upcoming on-property sales," he said.
Herefords and Angus studs make up over half the studs involved with 72 whiteface and 53 Angus studs opening their gates while there was strong representation from Limousin with 16 studs, Charolais with 13, Simmental, including Black Simmental and Simangus, 11 studs and Lowline with six herds on display.
Multi-stud displays at the Mount Gambier, SA, show grounds (15 studs with 10 breeds on Day 8) and at Hillview Beef Shorthorns at Streatham (seven studs with five breeds on Day 7) allow smaller studs without the facilities and numbers to host an on-property display to be involved in Beef Week.
The success of Beef Week has attracted major South Australian-based studs that are trucking displays of cattle at Mortlake and Hamilton.
"For over two decades Stock & Land Beef Week has been the premier event of its type in the nation and promotes the excellent seedstock herds in Australia's south-east," said Mr Phillips.
Meanwhile, Nampara Angus, of Penola, have been a late withdrawal to Beef Week.