Cornwall Park Farm wins award in prestigious beef competition
The 4 million visitors a year to the idyllic Cornwall Park Farm in central Auckland can now be sure they’re seeing some of the best farmed livestock in the country, after the farm’s cattle won an award in the recent Steak of Origin cuisine competition.
The produce from the beautiful and docile Simmental cattle, which the public walk among freely and can see up close, won a bronze medal in the steak competition held at the Mystery Creek field days.
Cornwall Park came third in the European breeds section and its cattle are bred from Kerrah Simmental at Tangiwai Station, which won the overall grand prize for the country’s best steak against finalists from around New Zealand.
It’s the first time Simmental steaks have won the grand prize in the competition’s 16 years, which is usually taken out by Angus or Angus cross. Beef + Lamb Chief Executive Rod Slater says while the Simmental win may have surprised some on the day, the breed has been a consistent finalist and won placings in the European breed section over the years.
Cornwall Park Farm Manager Peter Maxwell says the farm moved to having Simmental cattle more than 20 years ago after cows had escaped the property and run loose in the city a couple of times. “We had them running around town on Greenlane Road and Great South Road and that became unacceptable.”
Back then the cattle were a different breed and came to Cornwall Park after having a quieter start to life on rural stations. “They were not used to being exposed to that number of people and things like dogs on the loose for example.”
So the farm tried Simmental and found success due to their quiet temperament. “After that it was decided to continue with a very quiet line of breed cows.”
Eight years ago they began using Kerrah Simmental from the East Coast, and, as well as providing quieter cows for the public to enjoy, the change has improved the overall results of herd.
“It is a big deal to be able to buy in those bulls. We have measured it and it has lifted the standard of everything we do.” That includes quieter temperament, improved growth rates, ease of calving, higher meat quality and better polling (breeding cattle without horns), he says.
Delighted with the award, Peter Maxwell says the temperament of cattle contributes directly toward meat quality. “If an animal is of bad temperament when it is trucked, the meat quality can be negatively affected, so good temperament is another reason that’s helped with the award.”
As well as high performance from an agricultural point of view it’s important the cattle are comfortable in the environment and safe for the public to be around.
“Every bull we have had has settled in well. They have got used to the situation very well.” And he says the visitor experience is enhanced because the cattle adapt well to the hustle and bustle of city life.
“We get positive comments every day about both the sheep and cattle. Overseas visitors love seeing the livestock up close, and New Zealanders often share how it brings back memories of when they used to help their father or uncle on the family farm.”