Wrap up of the Beef Cattle Assessment Course 2018

November 21, 2018 12:05 pm

In September, Angus Australia selected three Angus Youth members to take part in the Tocal Beef Cattle Assessment Course which took place from the 8th-10th of October at the prestigious Tocal Agricultural College.

Hugh Cochrane, Michael Wilkie and Annabelle Butler were all chosen to take part in the course, which is committed to the education of its participants in all aspects of the beef industry and works to increase participants knowledge and skills in judging and selecting beef cattle.

The course covered a wide range of topics ranging from using EBV’s, structural conformation and selection of market and helped participants through developing practical skills and information and presenting networking opportunities.

Here are their reports:


Annabelle Butler

In early October 2018 I was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship by Angus Australia to attend the Beef Cattle Assessment Course held at Tocal College, Newcastle. The course is one of the most practical, but also theoretical, of its kind, and is now widely replicated in Australia and New Zealand.

The course covered a wide range of topics, from using EBV’s, structural conformation and selection for market. The value of this course was the ability to revise the content in a classroom situation before heading to the yards to put that knowledge into play. The course was both diversified and simple in how various phenotypic and genotypic traits could affect a single animal, progeny, an entire herd or years of production down the line. These sessions brought into focus how important it is for beef cattle selection to be considered in any herd, regardless of the production aim.

The overjudges and ‘coaches’ of the course were innately knowledgeable and were forthcoming with encouragement, assistance and reasoning behind every decision.  This environment facilitated a greater learning experience as I found myself willing and excited to contribute my opinion where I could. The knowledge I gained throughout the two days was not only from those coordinating the event – I received insightful information from the variety of other participants. The camaraderie and stories shared amongst all involved was one of the highlights of the experience.

Overall, the resources I have developed in practical skills, information and networks will be endlessly valuable for my career. My passion for beef cattle assessment and selection has been appropriately rejuvenated and I am very thankful to Angus Australia for giving me this opportunity.


Hugh Cochrane

I really enjoyed the Tocal Cattle Assessment course and gained a range of skills and knowledge that will be instrumental to my decisions going forward as a Angus breeder in the industry.

Firstly, I would like to reiterate my thanks and appreciation to Angus Australia for this wonderful learning opportunity by providing me with such a generous scholarship.

The course brought  me up to speed with key industry traits and requirements that both the commercial and stud market is demanding in breeding and buying cattle. This was particularly highlighted to me through extensive cattle judging classes over the three days. The cattle judging was personally a highlight for me as we would have judged close to 100 individual cattle over the duration of the course. The repetitiveness and variation in market specification for the end product made me think about what animal was best suited for a particular situation. We also spoke about different breeds and crossbreeds that are suited to a range of different climates. This messaging brought home to me that it is key to run the right type of cattle that suits the environment that you are working in.

In addition there were in classroom sessions where I was able to gain a better understanding of the finer points associated with the phenotypically aspects of all classes of  cattle. I thoroughly enjoyed learning and understanding in depth the ever increasing science embracing Breedplan  , Angus.Tech  and Genomics, particularly estimated breeding values and what is an optimal value to look for in a bull depending on the trait being considered.

Thank you again to Angus Australia for providing me with great experience. It will provide a solid foundation to my future Angus breeding endeavours.”


Michael Wilkie

Hello my name is Michael Wilkie and I would like to talk about the scholarship I received from Angus Australia.  It was really good because you got to learn about how to judge steers, heifers, and bulls also you got to learn about how to cull a heifer and learn about how to feel body fat of a steer and work out what is too fat and what is too thin with your cattle.   I now know more about EBVs as I didn’t really understand them before.

It was good because you were able to mix in with a lot of people of different ages and therefore  you got to learn from the mix of older and  younger people and it was not restricted to my age only not just my age so it was really good. We all had plently of time to talk about our cattle and compare the things we were learning and what we will change when we get home after the course.

The instructors were really good also because they would make a conversation with you about their cattle and it was able to be understood as if they were talking about my cattle.  The accommodation was great it was nice and clean the showers and toilets were always clean.

The college environment was also really nice and it was really green with so much green grass, actually it was quite refreshing because Queensland was so dry.

I would really recommend this course because you got to learn so much from a lot of people and hear their stories about why they doing this course and what they do.

Thanks to Angus Australia for allowing me to attend to this. I hope you guys have the same excitement as I did. Thank you for listening about my knowledge journey that has helped me get where I am today.


Top Image: Hugh Cochrane, Annabelle Butler & Michael Wilkie

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