Reuben's ICMJ adventure

14 August 2015

Reuben Welke is a third year veterinary science student at Perth's Murdoch University. With his eye on specialising in cattle, Reuben saw an opportunity develop his skills through the MLA-supported Intercollegiate Meat Judging (ICMJ ) program. 

He recently spent a week in Wagga Wagga NSW, for the ICMJ program and competition, where he was runner up in the beef judging and made it into the top 10 overall team.

"To be a good production animal vet you must understand what the industry and ultimately what consumers want, as then you’re placed in a much better position to work with the producer on the required product," he said.

"After the first information and training session at ICMJ I realised I'd made the correct decision and ICMJ was, firstly, going to provide so much knowledge about the animal post slaughter and the supply chains and, secondly, provide invaluable industry networking."

Here's Reuben's diary from his week in southern NSW with ICMJ

Day 1:  Flew from Perth to Melbourne and drove to Wangaratta, Victoria.

Day 2:  Visited Lambpro, Tom Bull's sheep genetics business at Holbrook and then on to Wagga for a beef training session at processor Teys Australia, then a retail and sheep carcase training session at Knight's Meats.
Learning: How to polish up the skills needed for the competition.

Day 3:  Toured Ashleigh Park feedlot at Culcairn and Rennylea Angus with Ruth Corrigan. Back in Wagga Wagga that evening for the first ICMJ function – the ‘rotational grazing’ dinner.
Learning: Getting to know the fellow competitors and learning the differences between eastern and western production systems.

Day 4:  The official opening of the 2015 ICMJ program. The morning session included presentations from industry representatives. The afternoon session was a rotating series of workshops to learn what butchering is all about and the importance of yield with two demonstrations (lamb and pork) and then an eating quality workshop and dinner.
Learning: Great to see how a carcase goes from complete to full retail cuts in 20 minutes.

Day 5:  Following a morning of industry representative presentations, we worked through group training sessions on retail cuts and lamb and pork carcases.
Learning: The future for the red meat industry is positive.

Day 6:  Careers Expo and the small stock competition (lamb and pork classes).
A careers expo of almost 20 companies was accompanied by professional development workshops preparing us for getting into the workforce.
Learning: There are a lot of career options in the livestock sector.

Day 7:  An early start at Teys Australia for the beef judging. There were nine classes, ranging from primal identification to an MSA grading class. The top 15 then had to go back to judge and verbally present a final class to differentiate the top 10 students. That night was the Coles Awards' dinner, where all the team and individual categories were awarded along with the overall team, individual winner and top 10 finalists. 
Learning: That the whole week had been fantastic and I was lucky to have the opportunity.

More information

Reuben Welke E: reuben_welke@hotmail.com

Reuben will participate in a further industry training week in Brisbane in late August as a top 10 finalist where the Australian team will also be announced. MLA and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation are platinum sponsors of the ICM.

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