CASINO High School's show team has only been going for three years, but its cattle are winning some big league ribbons.
Agriculture teacher Chelsea Wenham took a team of three boys and two girls to the Ekka last week, with two steers and two charolais cows and their three calves - the first offspring for the Casino High School Charolais Stud.
Entered into the open lightweight carcase competition, both steers won in their class; the angus cross in the 260-355kg class, and the brangus in the up to 455kg division.
The brangus was also nominated overall champion lightweight carcase.
The three successes netted the Casino team the jackpot - overall best performer across the three lightweight classes.
They came home richer by $1528, cash that will go towards show team accessories such as shampoos and brushes, to prepare three steers for the Lismore Show.
Ms Wenham said she hadn't expected to be so successful at the Ekka, because it was such a competitive show.
She decided to enter the steers into the open events anyway, with the aim of achieving a better price at auction.
This year, however, she did choose to concentrate on the lightweights, and avoid the much more competitive medium to heavy classes.
She was full of praise for the dedication of her small team.
"They will often opt to go down to the farm at recess and lunchtimes,” she said.
One reason the steers were in such winning shape was because the team stuck to its feed plan, she said - although it wasn't made easy by the torrential rain earlier this year.
"It was tempting to let the herd out into a bigger field to get away from the muddy feedlot, but eating grass and getting more exercise we thought they could go backwards, losing that vital fat and muscle.
"We just put down a lot of sawdust to give them a dry area to sleep in, to keep them in the feedlot. That's the most conducive environment to them putting on weight.”
They had let their stock run free before Casino Beef Week this year and that had lost them some quality, she said, though in 2016 the school won prizes with its heavyweight steers.
Ms Wenham said local producers had been very helpful and generous.
"A lot of the producers have been very happy to help the kids out, and especially because they can see that we do the right thing. They like it when they see the cattle so quiet. The students prepare the animals very well. You won't see them being dragged around the ring,” she said.
The brangus steer came from John Barber of Mallanganee and the angus from the Nicholson family of Casino, Ms Wenham said.
The steers were started on a Riverina feed and finished on a Norco mix.
As well as the steers headed to Lismore, the farm has five charolais, a south devon calf and heifer in calf, and nine dorper sheep.
SEPARATELY, the champion of champions cow at the EKKA also came from NSW. Exhibitor Donna Robson paraded the champion cow at the 2017 Royal Queensland Show on behalf of Mount View Orchards, Batlow, NSW. The cow, Flemington Cup Cake and her calf Flemington Night Vision, are seen here with Ms Robson, calf handler Rachel Relf, Wingham, NSW, and Brendon Lydford, Dubbo, NSW.
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