08 April 2016
For Tasmanian cattle producers Philip and Gaylene Hughes, the secret to producing high quality Meat Standards Australia (MSA) beef is in keeping their cattle calm and quiet.
By minimising stress to their stock, not overstocking their Kindred property, and always having plenty of silage available throughout the drier months, the couple has found a formula that has delivered them the title of Tasmania’s MSA Producer of the Year.
“Don’t stress your cattle, give them plenty of tucker and don’t overstock,” Mr Hughes said.
“Genetics also play a big part in MSA, because you’ve got to have the temperament right, and you’ve got to have the breeding and the muscles.
“I want cattle that look like they’ll grow out to 600 or 650 kilograms, with plenty of muscle about them.”
The Hughes’ 65-hectare property sits on the undulating agricultural landscape of Kindred, near the northern coastal town of Devonport.
An annual rainfall of 900 to 1200mm permits their cattle to run on pastures all year round, with a diet consisting of permanent pastures, clover and occasionally silage.
However, in tougher climatic conditions, silage can become a main dietary constituent for their cattle.
Mr Hughes said it was important to keep the cattle well fed through hard times, with a constant plane of nutrition a key factor in producing tender beef.
This focus on nutrition played an important role in the Hughes delivering such a high-quality end product.
Their cattle recorded low ossification scores – a measure which has a significant impact on tenderness – and desirable marbling scores, corresponding to better juiciness, and flavour.
The quiet handling of the stock also contributed to ensuring the cattle met the MSA minimum requirements of having desirable meat colour, meat pH and fat coverage.
MSA is a Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) supported program where the eating quality of every beef cut is determined using a grading system that measures key attributes such as carcase weight, ossification, marbling, rib fat, tropical breed content, meat pH and temperature, hanging method, hormonal growth promotants and meat colour.
Each carcase receives an MSA Index value that represents its potential eating quality based on the measurements collected.
To be eligible for the MLA MSA awards, a producer’s annual MSA-graded volume had to be equal or above the average for the State they were produced in during 2014-15.
Each producer that met the eligibility criteria received a score out of 100 weighted on two factors: the compliance to MSA minimum requirements, and eating quality performance as determined by the MSA Index for cattle consigned to MSA in 2014-15.
“To be named the best MSA producer is great. There’s a bit of prestige with it and I feel like the king of Kindred,” Mr Hughes said.
“It’s just great to be part of the beef industry… it makes me feel good to be selling good cattle.”
More information on MSA is available at www.mla.com.au/msa