LEARNING to read the eye muscle area in a live steer is like opening a book, according to nine-time winners of the Lardner Park steer trial Trevor and Lyn Hatch of Athlone.
The couple have used feedback from the competition, which is designed to compare genetics in a controlled grass-fed environment, in their breeding program.
Mr Hatch said any feedback that helped producers to better understand the make-up of the animal they were sending for slaughter was paramount.
"In the early days, we had a high percentage of Simmental and we would always make the weight gain, but couldn't get the fat content, so we added the Angus," he said.
The couple have since extended their Three Oaks stud from Simmental to include Angus, SimAngus, Red Angus and most recently, Limflex, cattle.
Their program is now producing cattle such as the pair of fourth-generation Simmental-Angus steers that won the domestic-grade section of the competition.
This pair of steers averaged 1.33kg daily weight gain over five months with the higher performing of the two managing 1.44kg/day.
"They are developed to be optimum in every way, not maximum in any way. They are cattle bred to perform on grass," Mr Hatch said.
Event organiser Mark Cockerell said the competition, now in it's 26th year, provided producers with information on growth and carcass quality while demonstrating carcass requirements of the domestic and heavy domestic trade markets.
The cattle were weighed regularly from June to November and the carcasses assessed according to Meat Standards Australia at Radfords of Warragul, with the winners announced earlier this month.
David Meikle of Tarwin Poll Herefords at Meeniyan won the heavy domestic section with a pair of Poll Hereford steers.
Geri Fargas from Lindenbrook Pastoral Company at Pakenham Upper claimed the Radford award for best overall carcass with an Angus-Baizadaise/Angus-Baizadaise steer.