A first-time exhibitor showing a silver Square Meater steer given as a thank you gift, won the prestigious grand champion led steer or heifer prize at this year's Perth Royal Show.
Ella Clarke, Harvey, has been helping Dardanup-based Peter and Judy Milton and Jarvis Polglaze with their respective cattle studs for more than four years and last November they joined forces to say thank you with the purchase of the steer from the Giglia family's Meta Park Square Meater stud, Bridgetown.
The 520 kilogram steer, fed by the Miltons for 100 days on a Semini ration, was first judged champion heavyweight in a field of 24 head by judge Hayden Green, Summit Angus and Limousin studs, Uranquinty, New South Wales, before getting Mr Green's nod to claim the ultimate title in the total showing of 84 exhibits, 22 more than last year.
Beaming a smile that fully lit up the judging arena, Ms Clarke could not believe the result and was even more flabbergasted the following day when her steer sold for second top price (behind the Black Dog charity auction steer) of $8200 to The Meat Machine, Maddington, at the led steer and heifer competition auction sale.
"It's so unbelievable," Ms Clarke said.
"Someone said to me most people spend a lifetime trying to win this broad ribbon and I've done it in my first year - there is only one way to go now and that is down."
Not from a farm, Ms Clarke grew up in Dongara at her parents Old Mill Motel but found a passion for agriculture through campdrafting with friends, casual work with a local vet and animal breeding specialist and attending the Junior Cattle Handlers Camp at Brunswick when she was in year 11.
That led to working on northern cattle stations for a time, to now being in her second year studying Animal Science at the University of Adelaide, Roseworthy, with a desire to "one day be a cattle geneticist specialising in IVF and embryos in Queensland."
"I have made some great friends in the cattle industry and people are so helpful and willing to pass on their knowledge," Ms Clarke said.
"I especially want to thank Peter, Judy and Jarvis, (fellow local stud breeder) Rebecca Bantock and my parents Bev and Russell Clarke for helping and supporting me in following my passion."
Ms Clarke wasn't sure how she would spend her earnings from the steer she calls Ted, but said it would either go towards her tuition fees, a cattle study tour to Canada or to buy her first cows.
The reserve grand champion exhibit also came from the heavyweight category and was a 477kg, Limousin-Angus steer exhibited by Murdoch University.
One of the most successful exhibitors of the past decade, Murdoch took 13 homebred animals which had all been fed on Semini's Feedlot mix for 90 days to the show and won six of the available eight broad ribbons, in another outstanding showing.
Farm manager Crystal Henderson said the steer was similarly bred to its 2022 grand champion steer, which was by black Limousin AI sire Stetson and out of one of the University's commercial Monterey blood Angus cows.
"This year's one was by a homebred son of Stetson," Ms Henderson said.
The Stetson son also paired with one of its Monterey blood Murray Grey cows to produce its 416kg champion mediumweight steer, Stetson itself paired with another Murray Grey to produce its 405kg reserve champion mediumweight steer, its 381kg champion lightweight was a Limousin-Angus heifer and its 371kg reserve champion lightweight was a Limousin-Murray Grey heifer.
Murdoch's other broad ribbon winner was a 578kg Angus steer, judged reserve champion extra heavyweight.
The cattle at Murdoch are used as part of practical training for its veterinary and animal science students but participation in the Cattle Club, which breaks in and prepares the show team, is optional.
Such is its appeal though, this year 35 first to fourth year students participated in helping prepare and show the Murdoch team.
Alistair and Jenny Murray's Tullibardine Angus, Albany, won the extra heavyweight championship with a 620kg Murray Grey cross steer fed for 130 days on a homemade ration.
Mr Murray, who supplies finished cattle to Woolworths, bought the steer from the Mount Barker saleyards as part of a draft for his feedlot.
"It came from DM & AJ Carpenter, Rocky Gully, and was one of four I picked out as potential show steers and put special tags in," Mr Murray said.
"Three of them made it here to the show.
"We have shown here at the Royal every year since 1970 when my dad won the grand champion in the trade section which was unled back then and it made $3000 in the sale."
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