'Mind-blowing' beef on show at FarmFest

RESERVE CHAMP: Farmfest cattle judge Ben Drain congratulates Reserve Champion Steer winners Travis Luscombe and Allison McCabe.
RESERVE CHAMP: Farmfest cattle judge Ben Drain congratulates Reserve Champion Steer winners Travis Luscombe and Allison McCabe. Megan Masters

NOT one person in the livestock judging arena at Farmfest wanted to be Ben Drain.

His cattle showing and judging abilities may have taken him across this country and on to another two besides, but having to pick the best from a stunning array of steers and heifers at Farmfest was almost too much for him.

"It was a big honour because it's the second biggest steer show in Queensland and any of the top five steers could have won,” he said.

"The quality was that good, so it was extra tough.

"It's easy from the outside standing on the fence, but when you're in here under pressure you can't prepare for it.

"It was mind blowing the quality of cattle out there.”

In the end the champion in the schools class was Stephanie Hartwig, with a limousin droughtmaster cross, while top gong in the open class went to Ben O'Dwyer with a stunning Murray grey.

Most successful exhibitor went to Travis Luscombe, who also picked up Reserve Champion with a great example of a speckle park along with a slew of class wins.

Mr O'Dwyer said he and brother Anthony had been showing cattle pretty much since they were born and both had a good feeling about Chunky Monkey.

He said Anthony had picked up the Murray grey from the Dalby Saleyards after noticing him in his work as a livestock agent for GDL in Dalby.

It was around May last year and the promising young calf weighed in at 180kg when he was brought to his new home on the O'Dwyer family's farm, Tallara, in Roadvale.

By the time Farmfest rolled around he was 16 months old and weighed in at 598kg.

"We do have a charolais stud but we breed commercial cattle and led steers,” he said.

"Dad started it and we've been doing it since we were born.

"But I think we've only ever got reserve here, so it feels pretty good.”

He said Chunky Money would soon be off to Ekka to try his luck again after the Farmfest win and Grand Champion wins at Clifton and Cooyar shows.

He also picked up Reserve Champion at Allora Show.

For Travis Luscombe, picking up Reserve Champion just consolidated his growing love of the speckle park breed.

He said he really liked the look of Honky Tonk when he saw the young steer at the Elders Toowoomba Saleyards around Christmas time.

"He was bred by Trevor and Debbie Stephens at Pittsworth and weighs 470kg,” Mr Luscombe said.

"He was Lightweight Champion at Toowoomba Show, so this is good.

"I just liked the look of him. He was soft and thick and pretty - they're very eye-catching, these Speckles.”

He said his eventual gravitation towards the speckles was borne of a desire to pick up more awards in the carcase sections for his business, Luscombe Show Steers, a move that seemed to be paying off.

"I just got Champion Carcase at Casino Beef Week and out of 90-odd entries to be champion is good.

"That was with Wattlegrove Drover, a half-share steer with Dale Humphries.”

He said eating quality and marbling was a big drawcard.

Over in the school classes, Stephanie Hartwig was pleased to nab the top gong out of a huge class of competitors.

The youngster might only be 12 years old, but spent a quarter of her life on the cattle showing circuit.

Dad Darren Hartwig, known to nearly everyone in the region's cattle scene through his work as manager at Elders Toowoomba Saleyards, said he was surprised but stoked when Stephanie decided to follow in his footsteps.

He said he decided to get Crows Nest State School on board after she announced her interest at eight years old.

The school was keen to take delivery of some cattle from the Hartwig family's property, Gold Crest, and the rest was history.

Mr Hartwig said the property had 60 breeders and about 30 stud cattle, with the breeding program aimed squarely at the local butcher trade.

The youngster got the cattle showing bug and went on to pick up plenty of ribbons.

The most recent win at Farmfest was with a 16-month-old limousin droughtmaster cross she worked with since it was six months old.

His beautiful temperament was evident as Ms Hartwig led the 541kg stunner around the ring.

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