THE coronavirus pandemic claimed another victim last week with the cancellation of the annual Harvey Beef Gate 2 Plate field day and School's Challenge at Sandy and Narelle Lyons' Willyung feedlot, Albany.
Even co-ordinator Sheena Smith said the committee was devastated to call the event off but it was the socially responsible action to take.
At the time Ms Smith said the official awards night was still scheduled to take place on May 22 this year at Albany's Centennial stadium, but given more recent escalating developments and world health directives that too may be in jeopardy.
Ms Smith said this year a record number of teams, 68 in total each comprising one heifer and two steers, were nominated by stud and commercial producers from as far afield as Geraldton in the north to Esperance in the south.
It included 11 new competitors and 43 breed combinations, five more than last year.
Evidence that the results information being disseminated at the conclusion of each year's trial is being noted and acted upon can be seen in the remarkable evenness of the cattle this year, with coat colour and not body type, the greatest visual distinguisher.
And the evenness is being reflected in performance too with a very tight spread in weight gain results.
On interim data, the top weight gaining steer was a Charolais entered by Liberty Charolais which had packed on 2.51 kilograms per day, while the top performing heifer was an Angus entered by Corolin Farms which did 2.46kg/day.
The average entry weight for the steer cohort when weighed on January 15 was 321.30kg liveweight a head and for heifers it was 319.15kg, compared to 424.85kg for steers and 416.49kg for heifers when weighed on March 13.
Ms Smith said current competition timelines were being adhered to with heifers sent for processing at Harvey Beef last Monday (March 23) and steers scheduled to go on Monday, April 6.
Now in its sixth year, the event was instigated to provide measured performance data and a conduit for information between producer and processor to better align the interests and expectations of both parties for increased industry efficiencies, profitability and better consumer outcomes.
Consequently judging criteria puts emphasis on weight gain, saleable meat yield and MSA grading
Kim McDougall, general manager of agriculture for Harvest Road whose company has been the major sponsor since inception said, "While we are disappointed that the Harvey Beef Gate 2 Plate Field Day and Schools Challenge could not go ahead, we know that cancelling was absolutely the right decision at this time, and thank the committee for their hard work in preparing for the event".
"We continue to support the competition and look forward to seeing the results in a few months' time," Mr McDougall said.
"At this time we also acknowledge the hard work and commitment of all of those in the agricultural industry as they continue to put food on the table of Australians across the country."