Cattle shows worthwhile

THE BEST: Diane and Errol Brown in Ohau, south of Levin, walk with 2 1/2-year-old galloway Annabell and her 1-month-old calf Collister.
THE BEST: Diane and Errol Brown in Ohau, south of Levin, walk with 2 1/2-year-old galloway Annabell and her 1-month-old calf Collister.

Preparing cattle for show is a time-consuming and expensive deal and that puts people off.

But those who have stuck at it say it's still worthwhile.

Diane and Errol Brown show their galloways and highland cattle and Sue and Trevor Clarke have murray grey cattle.

Pat me: Two-and-a-half-year-old galloway Annabell, with her 1-month-old calf Collister.
Pat me: Two-and-a-half-year-old galloway Annabell, with her 1-month-old calf Collister.

Sue Clarke says they started with four part-murray grey cattle and have bred their way up to full bloods. They started with 5 hectares. They have had murray greys for 36 years and now have 20ha and lease a further 10ha.

"When we were younger, we both worked fulltime, we had two small children and dragged them along to shows and we showed cattle," says Sue. It is not like that any more, and some beef shows have been cancelled because too few entries came in. Those that do go are usually older people.

She says people should show their animals.

"It compares your animals to others, you learn about structure, it is good advertising for your breed and you make contact with people who have bought your cattle in the past."

Sue says the camaraderie is key.

Long after people forget where your livestock came in the ring, they remember the chats they have had with you, she says.

"Showing cattle is rewarding and a challenge. And it helps that it is a hobby you can make money out of."

She says there isn't the urgency to show stock and people forget it is the window for the breed.

"You get to see other people's cattle, their halters, the stalls and how much feed they give. You learn a lot."

She says it costs a lot in time and effort, and the prize money has to reflect that.

Sue says they showed a murray grey at the Hawke's Bay Show, and it was in the 'any other breeds' section.

"It was up against charolais, shorthorn and angus cattle. So it was interbreed and it won."

Sue says without entering a show, a breeder wouldn't know.

The Clarkes love murray greys. Trevor says they are good tempered, nice cattle to have and they taste great. He is president of the New Zealand Murray Grey Cattle Society. It has about 60 members.

His report says: "This year has seen a strong recovery in prices received for all grades of beef, which is pleasing. Let's hope the trend continues into the future."

Diane and Errol Brown have seven galloway cattle and eight highland cattle.

They have a lifestyle farm near Levin. They hope to go to the international galloway meeting in Germany next year.

They are strong proponents of the breed and both describe themselves as "potty" about animals.

Chooks run around. There are barred rocks, faverolles and light sussex hens and roosters. There is a brown labrador.

"We've got 15 acres. We couldn't handle this many animals without grazing help from our son Richard, who lives nearby and our neighbour Bill. They both give us access to their paddocks and are very obliging," Errol says.

They show both galloways and highland cattle.

"The highland cattle are very placid. They can be, with those horns. I have been bowled by them twice, and each time they gave me a warning, which I didn't heed," Errol says.

He suffered the best black eye he has ever had "because a horn caught me".

But they are very good tempered, he says, even more so than the galloways.

Errol stands beside galloway cow Annabell and she is fully grown and comes up to his waist. She has a calf, born on Good Friday. His name is Collister.

It is the first time he has experienced a halter - and he bucks, swerves and lies down. It is not to his liking and he calls for his mother.

They are part of the Cordag Trued herd in Gaelic, which Diane says means agreeable herd.

Bree is the matriarch. She is tied up. Black in colour, she is a standard galloway. Her first calf was born by caesarean and the Browns say while she was being stitched up, the calf was in under her, after a drink. He had to wait for the vet.

"They are smaller, but they are very hardy and well behaved. On a smaller block, I don't want tall fences and large gates. With these cattle, I don't need them," Errol says.

"They often get bypassed by people who want the maximum amount of beef in the shortest time."

But he says the galloways produce excellent quality beef.

"They are good eating. Home kill is the best - there is no stress and the animal is relaxed. Then it's lights go out."

Diane says they have known some of the cattle since they were a few days old, and they are rising 9 now.

She laments the day when beef cattle showing might be a thing of the past. But Errol says it is hard.

"You can have the quietest animal here around the yard. Then take it to a show, and there is noise, children, scooters and it can be dangerous."

He says taking cattle to and from the show ring is often the most fraught time. "In the end I am a 72-kilogram man leading an animal."

He says it could be 700-900kg and a dog might scare a cattle beast and it could injure or kill bystanders.

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