FROM the evolving nature of cattle showing to alternative proteins and global demand for meat, United States beef nutrition and management expert and experienced judge Daniel Shike provided fascinating insight at this year's Royal Adelaide.
Dr Shike, an associate professor at the Unviersity of Illinois, has judged in more than 35 states, including at the American Royal and State Fair of Texas.
He did the honours in several breed rings at Adelaide, including the feature breed show Angus, which had entries from Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, NSW and South Australia.
He said the cattle showing scene had evolved in the US and he saw signs of the same trends in Australia.
"With the way genetics are selected in both the US and Australia today, with more emphasis on EBVs (estimated breeding values) and genomic tools, there is less emphasis on how an animal does in the show ring," he said.
"Bulls that sell the most semen in many breeds in the US are never shown.
"Yet show numbers are still good. It has become an opportunity for youth to be involved in agriculture, a competitive activity and passion much like a sport. Many don't even come from farms."
Dr Shike believes both the future of showing, and the beef industry across the world, is very optimistic.
"More and more people around the world are moving into the middle class, with a greater disposable income, and there is no doubt they like to eat beef. It's called going out for a steak for a reason," he said.
There will be some pressure from alternatives, he said, but those industries faced their own challenges.
"On the cell cultured side, it's a ways off being competitive from a price standpoint but probably the bigger challenge for them is some of the clientale they are targeting are not looking for an over-processed, multiple-ingredient type of product," Dr Shike said.
"They may be looking for a meat alternative but they are also looking for natural.
"As a beef industry we don't need to be combative. We should embrace what we do and aim to produce a high quality product as sustainably as we can and the demand will be there."
US cattlemen were looking more and more to exports, he said.
"Like any businessperson, the more demand there is for your product, the better. The US beef industry is looking to increase exports for that reason," he said.
"We produce a lot of beef relative to the number of cows we have and we want to grow all markets. The US imports beef also for our grinding market.
"Many of our competitors - Brazil, Argentina and even Australia - continue to push up their grain-fed production. A lot has to do with where grain prices are."
US cattlemen were conscious of the opportunities in the global market, he said.