ICMJ in focus: Bridie Luers and Harriet Moss

The 2017 Intercollegiate Meat Judging (ICMJ) Competition is coming up next month, with WAFarmers once again supporting the contest through the sponsorship of the Murdoch University ICMJ team.

Teammate Bridie Luers (21), who will complete her Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery at the end of next year, said she had developed a particular passion for cattle production since beginning her studies.

“Having grown up on a sheep and cropping farm east of Kellerberrin, I became interested in agriculture and livestock from a young age,” she said.

“Our family also runs a stock and station agency, Livestock and Land, which handles livestock, wool and real estate sales, and as I have been involved in both of these enterprises since I was a kid, they have definitely helped to shape my interest in livestock production, particularly sheep.

“Additionally, since beginning my veterinary studies and attending practicals all over the state on farms and stations, I have developed a real passion for cattle production, especially the northern extensive industry.”

As she aspires to work as a veterinarian in a rural mixed practice with a heavy focus on cattle production medicine, Ms Luers said she looked forward to learning more about Australian meat production, processing and marketing at the competition, in addition to expanding her networks.

“I hope to gain the ability to judge carcasses and primals as objectively as possible through assessment of quality, trimness and muscularity, and to expand my knowledge of how carcass attributes influence eating quality and to learn more about the science behind why, as this is how we can manipulate it,” she said.

“I also hope to gain a better understanding of how I, as a future veterinarian, will be able to contribute to the Australian beef and lamb supply chains.”

While Ms Luers grew up on a farm, teammate and fellow Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery student Harriet Moss (22) was only introduced to the industry in the later years of her secondary education, and has found her enthusiasm for the industry increase rapidly in the years since, with her involvement in the Murdoch University-led Steer and Heifer Team being the catalyst for her application to the IMCJ team.

“I was immediately intrigued by the concept of the ICMJ competition and enticed by the knowledge that I would gain towards a broader understanding of the requirements within the meat production industry,” Ms Moss said.

“As the agricultural industry is constantly evolving and new technologies and ways of managing livestock are being developed all the time, the ICMJ competition is a great opportunity for students to be exposed to these new components of the industry and to converse with experienced industry members.”

Ms Moss said the skills the team will develop in identifying the more desirable primal or carcase will not only help them to advise meat producers on how to produce a quality product that meets industry specifications and consumer preferences, but will also help her career prospects.

“Although we may not think about it too much while we are judging a class in the middle of a cooler – fingers going numb, trying to get our brains cranking so that we can interpret the beef primals in front of us – the qualities seen in the meat cuts have important commercial significance,” she said.

“I am looking forward to presentations looking at the production of livestock, in particular prime lamb and cattle in feedlots, and am also interested in learning about any new technologies that might be coming into the industry or are already being implemented.

“I believe that the mentality that vets are seen as someone that comes out when things go wrong should be changed and vets could be utilised as advisors for maximising the health of our livestock and in turn the productivity.

“There’s a lot of potential to do good as a vet in the livestock industry and I am excited for my career to begin come graduation.”

The Murdoch team, comprising of 10 students, will travel to Wagga Wagga in early July to represent their university, and will gain practical experience in the evaluation of carcasses, primals and retail cuts.

WAFarmers is sponsoring the Murdoch University ICMJ team alongside Harvey Beef, Linley Valley Pork, The Royal Agricultural Society of WA and the Murdoch University Veterinary Trust.

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