A record number of stud and commercial producers are battling for top honours in the 2012 RNA Paddock to Palate Competition, with the overall winner to be announced at the Brisbane Exhibition on August 11.
Nominations for the 15-year-old competition have almost doubled in 2012, with 53 pens of seven steers nominated by 24 exhibitors, including 10 first-time exhibitors.
In another first, the cattle are being fed at Mort and Co's Grassdale Feedlot at Dalby after the Sturrock family at Launcells Feedlot opted out of the competition.
Mort and Co have also put up $5000 for first prize, making it Australia's richest top prize for any single prime beef competition.
Mort and Co private client manager, Ben Maher, has been helping to coordinate the competition and said a large number of high-profile stud and commercial producers from various breeds were involved in the event.
"A lot of stud operators see it as a means of promoting their bloodlines or breed and many commercial producers are genuinely interested in benchmarking the performance of their own cattle against other top operators," he said.
"Mort and Co were really keen to be part of the competition because we are trying to increase our custom feeding base. This gives us great exposure to some of the best producers in southern Queensland.
"It's also very interesting to compare how the breeds perform within the feedlot and give our staff something challenging and exciting to work on."
The winners of the feedlot phase were ready to be announced at the Grassdale Feedlot on July 24, and Mr Maher said weather conditions had not been ideal for much of the time on feed.
"The cattle did very well until the first 50 days, but we've had some wet weather since then," he said.
"The cattle do look visually very good though, and are eating well, so it will be exciting to see which exhibitor has achieved the best weight gains overall."
After completing 100 days on feed at the 34,000-head Grassdale Feedlot, the steers will be processed at JBS Australia's Dinmore Abattoir, where they will also be graded under the MSA system.
The final phase of the competition, the beef tasting, will be held at the Brisbane Exhibition. The overall winner will be announced on Saturday, August 11, 2012.
•Contact Andrew Tudor at the RNA on (07) 3253 3921.
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