Ken and Kerry McKenzie, Yaralla Droughtmasters, Blackwater have become synonymous with success in Central Queensland liveweight cattle competitions, and have featured prominently in prime cattle championships at the three-yearly Rocky beef expos.
Ken said they saw the RNA Paddock to Palate competition as a blue ribbon event, so made the effort to put their cattle to the test further south for the first time this year.
“We have won a fair few competitions on the hoof so we wanted to see if they hang up all right,” Ken explained. “This competition is the whole package – not just live, but finished product, hang up and taste.”
They won the 100-day competition in their first attempt with progeny from a cross of Simmental and Droughtmaster bulls over F1 Simmental Droughtmaster cows.
The McKenzies said they began trialing the Simmental Droughtmaster cross on the advice of a feedlot buyer who often buys their cattle and found it to be very good cross.
So what’s the secret to their continued high-level success in prime cattle competitions?
“Hard work” Ken said with a grin, before adding that it was also important to try to pick cattle that were middle of the road.
“The females have to be fertile,” he said. “Try not to go to extremes, just look to breed efficient functional cattle.
How much of that success comes to down breeding and how much to feeding? “It is a combination – to go in any competition, they have to be on a rising plane of nutrition from weaning, if you have major setbacks you won’t win major competitions,” he said. “But also the genetics have to be right too.”
The McKenzies run about 1600 breeders with the aim of producing progeny to grow to feeder cattle.
Photo and story by James Nason, Beef Central