The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Meat Judging Team was privileged to be the only judging team from the United States invited to compete in the 2017 Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia on July 3-9, 2017. The students representing Texas A&M University were Dax Dittrich, Luke Fox, Jenna Hunt, Kelsey Landrum and Maggie Madden, accompanied by Dr. Leslie Frenzel, meat judging coordinator, and Micki Gooch, assistant meat judging coach.
Of the fourteen universities competing, ten were from Australia and four represented Bogor, Japan, Korea, and the United States.
“Absolutely nothing makes me more proud than being a part of this team that is honored to have had the opportunity to travel to Australia and represent Texas A&M and the United States,” said Hunt.
The competition was coordinated by the Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging Association, a nonprofit organization with goals to expose students to and encourage their potential careers in the meat industry. The main objective of the contest is to provide an opportunity for students to learn and build the pool of meat industry representatives who will give the Australian meat industry the expertise and drive to compete in the meat quality world of the future.
The trip consisted of a multi-day, contest-competition hybrid. In the mornings, students viewed presentations over a range of topics including listening to speakers from the beef, lamb, and pork industries, grazers, feed lot operators and processors. In the afternoons, students attended workshops focused on retail cut identification, value-added cuts in the chuck and rump, understanding lamb carcass yield, pork retail markets, pork carcass evaluation, pork and beef primal evaluation, lamb judging, primal identification, and writing reasons.
The competition was held over two days. The first day was spent on retail cut identification, lamb and pork carcass evaluation, and reasons. The second focused on beef pricing classes, eating quality, primal cut identification, and beef primal evaluation.
Following the contest, a banquet was held where it was announced that Texas A&M was the overall champions by nearly 250 points, being awarded the Roy McDonald Shield. Notably, all five students placed in the top five. Hunt and Madden tied for overall high individual, but based on the tie breaker, Hunt walked away the champion, being awarded the Founders Buckle. Madden was second overall, followed by Dittrich, Fox, and Landrum, respectively.
The team was awarded top honors in beef, pork and lamb judging and placed second in eating quality evaluation.
“I am proud to be a part of this team and so thankful for all of the opportunities to stand next to my teammates in and out of the coolers,” said Landrum. “I don’t know what I would do without them.”
According to the team, what is even more exciting than winning an international contest are the graduate opportunities, internships, and potential career opportunities that evolved from this experience.
“I am incredibly proud of this team’s work ethic, determination, and level of integrity and professionalism they have exhibited throughout the international conference and competition,” said Frenzel.
The team would like to thank all of the alumni, their families, the Department of Animal Science, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for supporting this once-in-a-lifetime international opportunity.
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Maggie Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.