The Contest

Red Devon Steers being finished at Paradise Pastures, PA.  Photo by Roy

Red Devon Steers being finished at Paradise Pastures, PA. Photo by Roy

The Steak of Origin Contest started in New Zealand over 13 years ago with a modest beginning and has grown into a very large competition.  Cattle farmers and ranchers from all over NZ enter steaks to be judged in this competition.  The steaks must be sirloin steaks from a carcass aged 3 weeks.  The judging included extensive data collected on the steaks and a taste test by 12 judges.  The judges were chefs, food writers, food editors, food critics and the CEO of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Inc., the agency that oversees the contest.  Unfortunately there was no info given on how the animals were raised or finished (grass finished or grain fed).

A Red Devon Entry Near the Top

Karen and Bob Schumacher of Inglewood entered a steak from a 23 month old Red Devon heifer in class 2.  Class 2 is made up of British breeds and was by far the largest class with 112 entries.  The Schumacher steak placed 4th.

The Data

Six measurements were collected on each steak, but only two were used in scoring for the contest, tenderness and PH.

Tenderness.  As in the United States Shearforce is used to measure tenderness, but it is measured in metric units.  Any measurement less than or equal to 5.9 kgF is classified as very tender, 6-7.9 is tender, 8-10.9 is acceptable, and 11 or higher is unacceptable.  The Red devon steak measured 4.23.

PH.  The New Zealanders measure the PH of their beef.  A PH higher than 6.0 is usually consistent with dark meat, reduced shelf life and toughness.  The ultimate level is 5.4-5.7 and any steak higher than 5.8 was disqualified from the competition.  The Red Devon steak measured 5.58.

Marbling. Marbling in New Zealand is measured on a 0 to 9 scale with 0 indicating no marbling and 9 is extremely marbled.  The Red Devon steak scored a 3.

Color.  A score of 20 or above means a bright cherry red color and 16 or below is for a dull and stale color.  The Red Devon steak received a score of 23.83.

Cooking Loss %.  A 25%-35% range is expected, anything above that level is usually associated with meat that is dry.  Red Devon % was 32.7.

Succulence.  This is water binding capacity (WBC) which is a measure of fluid loss during the process.  The more fluid bound by meat structure leads to less drip and cooking loss which indicates more succulent meat.  The accepted range is 1.8-3.9 square cm. with the lower measurement meaning less fluid loss.  The Red Devon measurement was 3.4.

This competition certainly offers some interesting ideas for collecting data on American Red Devon animals.  The research results could make some strong promotional material.  Just some food for thought!

Thank you to Vic Edwards of Australia for sending this information.  He and Alison Heap are our judges for the show in September.

Submitted by Roy