By Lucy Kinbacher, Fairfax Media
Blackwater Droughtmaster breeders Ken and Kerry McKenzie mixed up the perfect recipe for commercial cattle success yet again, taking out the grand champion title at Beef Australia for the fifth time in six years.
But, in a small change to the script, it was a pen of heifers that took out the top honours in a first for the event.
Known for breeding bulls under the Yaralla stud, it was a pen of two-year-old Droughtmaster Simmental cross heifers that claimed the champion grainfed female and grand champion title under judges Duanne Woodham and Peter Healy.
The pen of heifers averaged 561.5kg at judging and sold for 331c/kg at CQLX Gracemere yesterday.
The McKenzie’s integrated Simmental genetics into part of their commercial herd eight years ago with offspring sold to a dedicated feedlot buyer.
While they have moved away from fattening in their own operation, they continue to enter the competition for the enjoyment and business benefits.
With a record entry of 1200 grainfed and 662 grassfed cattle in this year’s event, Mr McKenzie said the 2018 win was a great testament to the success of their Droughtmaster genetics.
“The breed have been really dominant in CQ (Central Queensland) and this is a massive area, it’s a powerhouse, so they have done well,” he said.
“You have got all the top producers and potential bull buyers here, people that look at your cattle, and I think if you show consistency you hope that you can sell a bull that does the same thing.”
He said while some people could get caught up in chasing commercial cattle success and produce “extremes”, they aimed to create a balanced animal from their versatile herd.
The females in particular were a favourite for Mr McKenzie.
“I’ll be honest when we put everything on feed (those heifers) did stand out, they were exceptionally good,” he said.