Stepping up for a challenge

The 2024 Clermont Cattleman’s Challenge field day was hosted by Mac and Gayle Shan at Cantaur Park, Moranbah in mid-November 2023.  The Shans welcomed around 30 producers and agents to their property and the field day, once again provided an opportunity for great discussion on a range of topics.

A highlight of the day was hearing Mac’s insights and experiences on paddock management and pasture establishment, as he talked through the history of the 160-hectare paddock provided for the challenge cattle.  It had been blade ploughed around 8 years ago and seeded with a mix of tropical grasses and legumes including Buffel, Butterfly Pea and Desmanthus. Prior to development, Mac recalled how much of the paddock was like the current gateway (bare of vegetation) while now it is a productive mix of improved and native grasses and legumes.

Bare ground in gateway demonstrated how the 160 hectare paddock looked before blade ploughing and seeding 8 years ago
Established Buffel grass, Butterfly Pea and Desmanthus

Pasture establishment discussion

The opportunity to expand on considerations for pasture development or renovation fitted into the day nicely, with Brad Hough (DAF beef extension officer, Townsville) making sure the wealth of experience in the group was captured.   Discussion focused on:

  • the benefits of improving pastures/paddocks
  • considerations before deciding to renovate/sow
  • factors which can impact establishment.
People enjoyed sharing tips and experiences on pasture establishment

Brad ran through the results of the discussion with the group, highlighting that there is plenty of local experience which people are willing to share. Information on the Queensland Pasture Resilience Program (QPRP), a joint initiative between the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Meat and Livestock Australia, was also presented by Brad.  This project is available to producers looking for support for all things pasture related, including:

  • setting up small trials
  • grass and legume options
  • managing pasture rundown and dieback.

Challenge sponsorship

Leon Buchanan (Zoetis), Matthew Lockwood (Elders Emerald) and Jacob McDougall (Glen Idol) discuss current steer performance

Sponsorship of the Challenge is an important part of its success and it was great to have some of the Challenge sponsors in attendance, including representatives from Belyando Produce, Zoetis and FMC – Graslan.

Loose lick supplement was donated by Belyando Produce helping the steers to utilise the dry, lower quality pasture. A very welcome 30mm of rain prior to the field day reduced lick consumption with the steers chasing the short green pick in the pastures. Further decent falls following the field day resulted in an average daily gain of 1kg/day up until feedlot induction on 31 January 2024, with an overall gain of 0.5 kg/day for their 248 days on grass.

The vaccination program for challenge steers is sponsored by Zoetis. At the start of the field day, Roxanne Morgan (DAF beef extension officer, Mackay) led discussion around the management of steer entries (pre-competition), the impacts of disease, vaccination, age spread and nutrition; all topics which the competition aims to even out by:

  1. Having guidelines for entry
  2. Implementing a set vaccination plan
  3. Running the cohort together for 12 months.

Amy Barnes from FMC (principal field day sponsor) provided some tips on minimising the effects of Graslan on legume establishment and protecting desirable trees and shade camps when applying pellets to manage regrowth.

Carcase scoring protocols

James Pisaturo (Challenge steward) and Roxanne Morgan (DAF) took some time to explain the carcase scoring protocol for the single steer (selected by each vendor in May after 100 days on grain). Points from the carcase section contribute to the overall competition and it was identified that the scoring protocol had not been shared well with the vendors.  Four of the eleven steers from the 2023 competition exceeded the optimum carcase weight of 340kg, despite entering the challenge at the optimal liveweight of less than 320kg.  One steer dressed at 360.5kg, having an average daily gain of 1.13kg/day and a dressing percentage of 56.7% (based on available data).

Steers at feedlot induction 31 Jan 2024

The field day wrapped up with perfectly cooked steak burgers and a cold beer. A big thank you to the team at Cantaur Park for hosting and providing such a welcoming location.  The title of 2024 Clermont Cattle King and Queen will be announced following final judging at the 2024 Clermont Show, 27-29 May. There will be a field day at Paringa Feedlot after the steers have completed 100 days on grain.

2024 Challenge details

Entries: 14 competitors x 5 steers – 70 head

Start date: 28 May 2023

Grass: Cantaur Park, Moranbah (35 weeks)

Grain: Paringa Feedlot, inducted 31 Jan 2024

    • carcase steers approx. 107 days
    • show steers approx. 117 days

Judging: Clermont Show, 27-29 May 2024


    • grass induction – 28/5/23 – 299 kg avg.
    • field day – 16/11/23 – 352 kg avg. (0.3 kg/day)
    • feedlot induction – 31/1/24 – 426 kg avg. (1 kg/day)
    • overall avg. daily gain 0.5 kg/day over 248 days

Written by Roxanne Morgan, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF)