Murray Greys tick boxes on eating quality

May 17, 2017

By Kim Woods
Outcross Media

Murray Greys have dominated the nation’s largest grassfed carcase competition by grading in the top 5 per cent on the Meat Standards Australia Index for eating quality.

The Southern Grassfed Carcase Classic, run by Teys Australia’s processing plant at Naracoorte, South Australia, helps commercial beef producers benchmark their steers on carcase quality.

Five purebred Murray Grey steers exhibited by Edwin and Owen Edge, Phoines Pastoral, Casterton, Vic, ranked in the top 10 MSA Index eating quality entries while Murray Greys comprised 10 of the top 20 entries.

Phoines Pastoral won the highest MSA eating quality award with an MSA Index of 65.38, ranking the steer in the top five per cent of the nation on the grading system.

The MSA Index is a single number and standard national measure of the predicted eating quality and potential merit of a carcase.

The result contributed to Edge family’s second placing in the teams of 10 overall, and fourth in the teams of three.

The winning steers came from class 3 for a single steer, 0-4 teeth with a carcass weight of 320-420kg.

Phoines Pastoral’s top scoring steer on 88.71 points had a carcase weight of 385.2kg, a P8 fat of 13mm, rib fat of 12mm, eye muscle area of 99sqcm, and MSA Index of 62.79.

The highest MSA Indexing steer from the team, on 65.27, had a carcass weight of 374kg, eye muscle area of 89sqcm, and P8 fat of 12mm.

Billed as the largest grassfed carcase competition in Australia, the Classic drew a record 722 entries from South Australia’s mid north and south-east, and Victoria’s western districts.

The cattle were largely British and European breeds and their crosses, including Murray Grey, Red Poll, Angus, Hereford, Simmental and Shorthorn.

Beef producers were required to enter a minimum of 10 animals, which were allocated to classes based on carcass weight, fat depth and dentition, with processing taking place between last October and February.

The Edge family entered 37 steers, selected from the progeny of their 1000-cow autumn and spring calving herd.

The Murray Greys proved their consistent carcase performance across multiple kill dates.

This was attributed to management, nutrition and genetic input focusing on weight for age, adequate fat cover and marbling.

“We are always looking at the kill sheets and take the results on board,’’ Mr Edge said.

“If everyone hit the MSA grid it would be terrific but that doesn’t always happen so there is always something to learn.

“The win gives us confidence we are on the right track with this breed of cattle.

“We have been breeding Murray Greys since the 1960s for temperament, doing ability, ease of management and flexibility in the market place.’’

When it comes to bull selection, Mr Edge relies on his bull providers, The Glen and Lindsay studs, to breed the right mix of carcass and fertility traits.

“Murray Greys do a good job meeting the MSA specifications off grass with their marbling and temperament,’’ he said.

“They are consistent with their fat cover and are easy to keep.

“They are good doing cattle – we have had quite a few tough seasons and we don’t supplementary feed.

“The Murray Greys’ carcase attributes means it has a natural propensity to meet the grid.

“These cattle were straight off grass and given no special treatment.’’

The family paddock weans their calves at seven to eight months of age, or 260-300kg liveweight.

In the past, steers were sold as vealers but are now finished on ryegrass and clover pastures to 660-670kg liveweight, and processed at Teys Australia’s Naracoorte plant.

Surplus heifers are grass finished for the European Union market.

Mr Edge said the Southern Grassfed Carcase Classic was a real “commercial man’s competition’’.

He is also pleased the competition raises funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

“Teys do a wonderful job with the producers and it is a good way to get feedback on the cattle,’’ he said.

Carcases were judged on meat colour, P8 fat depth, rib fat depth, eye muscle area, and MSA eating quality for a total of 100 points.

Competition chairman Allan Kain said a total of 88 per cent of the entries, or 640 cattle, met the minimum MSA specifications.

Seven per cent failed for having a carcass pH of over 5.71 while the remainder failed for less than 3mm rib fat, inadequate fat distribution or more than a three for meat colour.

Of the 640 cattle meeting the MSA compliance, they had an average MSA index of 60.6, ranking in the top 25 per cent of cattle in Australia.

The top half of these cattle achieved an average MSA Index of 62, placing them in the top 10 per cent for eating quality.

Mr Kain said a changed format with a longer delivery window resulted in the record number of entries.

Edwin and Owen Edge, Casterton, with Rabobank rural manager Lynn Fairlie, far left, and MSA business development manager Neroli Smith at the Southern Grassfed Carcase Classic presentation. Image courtesy Catherine Miller.