VICTORIAN weaner producers, the Shea family from Barfold Beef, Barfold, have again excelled in the NSW Beef Spectacular Feedback Trial taking out carcase champion pen as well as third and ninth place overall.
Running a self-replacing Angus cow/calf operation of about 400 to 450 breeders, Matt Shea along with his mother Margaret, wife Karly and three sons Jasper, Charlie and Riley, have fine-tuned their operation resulting in remarkable gains.
"Predominately we have Te Mania and Jarobee Angus blood cows as well as mostly Te Mania and Jarobee bulls, and have bought a few local bulls from Adameluca stud," Mr Shea said.
"Over the last six years, we have been doing AI (artificial insemination) to continue to improve the genetic pool of our herd."
Entering the trial for six years now, the 2021 trial marked the fourth-consecutive year that Barfold Beef has been in the top 10.
"We look for the middle of the run cattle now, a true representation of what our herd is so it is reflective of what we are producing and marketing," he said.
Their third-placed Angus team scored 731.5 points, also reigning supreme across the board taking out champion carcase pen (404 points) and reserve champion Teys Certified Premium Black Angus pen.
This pen placed sixth overall in the eating quality medals with a 64.68 MSA Index.
In the feedlot performance category, they were fourth on 245 points, with an average daily gain of 2.02 kilograms per head per day.
Carcase wise, their steers had on average a carcase weight of 380.1 kilograms with a dressing percentage of 53.84 per cent and a lean meat yield of 53.04pc. Four out of the five scored an Aus-Meat marble score three.
Their team profit was $909.35, which ranked them third overall for profitability.
No strangers to success in the trial, in 2020 Barfold Beef placed seventh overall and were the reserve champion Teys Certified Black Angus pen. In 2019 they received equal fifth with both their teams.
With three teams in the top 20 this year, the Shea family said it is rewarding to see the consistency in the cattle.
"The best you can do is try and get cattle at the highest end of the entry weight specs, so you have a better chance of hitting the target carcase weights," he said.
Last year Mr Shea commented that they would have liked their steers to be 40 to 50 kilogams heavier going in, and this year they achieved that result without having to do anything.
"We were lucky in one respect to have a remarkable season resulting in the cattle presenting heavier when we put together the teams," he said. "We didn't have to supplement feed or anything, they did it all themselves until going into the feedlot.
"Just off the prices and weights we got at induction, we had a number of steers over the weight specs, which is pleasing in one respect but frustrating as it is part of the competition and we lost points there. But it is nice knowing that given the right season, they will perform and put on weight."
Barfold's steers ranged in weight from 442 to 506 kilograms at induction, and averaged 468kg per head across the 15 steers.
On 663.5 points, Barfold's ninth-ranking Angus team was also third in the carcase section (397.5 points), and had a profitability of $594.13.
Their third team received 18th overall (619 points), and 14th in the carcase category.
Mr Shea said it is nice to have all the feedback that they can pass on to clients and buyers, to ensure they can have confidence going forward that the Barfold cattle will perform for them. "With this information and their own experiences, to see clients come back and buy our cattle is pleasing."
The Shea family has been able to hold onto their calves for six to eight weeks longer this year due to the better season. They look forward to selling them at the end of March on AuctionsPlus.
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