Two National Champion winners, in 1996 and 1999 in the Meat NZ Beef Competition has to tell you something about a breed of cattle virtually unknown in New Zealand. Add to that, a 3rd in the Lightweight Class of 63 entries and 1st and 3rd place in the Heavyweight division in the intervening two years, a National Championship back in 1993 and you've got indisputable evidence of the superior qualities of the Piedmontese breed.
The breed dominates beef production in Italy and the Netherlands due to its lean-ness and tenderness but has yet to catch on as a quality terminal sire breed in New Zealand.
Pauline and John Leslie's winning 18 month fullblood Piedmontese heifer was raised on their small "Ngakoroa" Piedmontese stud at Drury and was grass fed only, right through to slaughter. It scored 512.83 points, well clear of the 2nd and 3rd placed Limousin steer carcasses and it weighed 331.8kg.
The really outstanding feature of the carcass was the tenderness. It recorded the lowest shear force score ever, meaning it was the most tender meat ever to be seen at the competition.
Further National success went to the Allerby Bros, Northland, who took out 3rd place with a Piedmontese/Friesian heifer, which scored 457.24 points for a carcass weighing 196.60kgs.
In addition to the National successes, the seven Piedmontese which were entered into the competition, gained three firsts, two seconds and two thirds at the Regional Competitions.
The breed was imported into New Zealand in 1989 and the years of careful selection of superior bloodlines, guarantees the excellent bulls now available from breeders.
Customers are asking for leaner beef now and butchers/processors are finally waking up to the fact that here is a breed that can give the customer a quality product that literally "trims and tenderises itself' before it gets anywhere near the retail outlet. Around the country, Piedmontese producers are starting to be offered premiums, which is a bright spot in the improving beef market.
Through the Rissington Cattle Co. and Leachrnans Cattle Co, USA and in conjunction with Phoenix Meats, several thousand dairy cows have been inseminated with Piedmontese semen, imported from Italy from five selected bulls . The progeny will be contracted to growers and finishers and the end product exported to the USA.
Piedmontese beef has the distinction of being awarded the National Heart Foundation "tick" of good health for it's lean qualities.
The breed is very keenly sought by small block farmers because of the temperament and ability to convert grass to lean beef
Take advantage of what this breed can offer your business and contact the Piedmontese Breed Society today for a list of breeders near you or for advice on available semen packages.
Photo: (1) Pauline and John Leslie's Ngakoroa Cadence with her seven and a half month old calf
Photo: (2) Pauline and John Leslie's 7/8 Piedmontese Steer which won the 1996 National Carcass Competition.