School thrives at Mel­bourne Show

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAR­RYD BARCA

It was one of sev­eral awards won by the school, which also re­ceived the Cham­pion Ex­port Car­case and Mar­cus Old­ham Col­lege tro­phy for the Cham­pi­ons School Car­case, on top of sev­eral rib­bons.

Ruther­glen High School teacher Ron Webb, who pre­pares the an­i­mals with the stu­dents’ help, said the school en­tered a few dif­fer­ent com­pe­ti­tions. This year’s bred an­i­mals were do­nated by Alpine An­gus.

“There’s a pa­raders com­pe­ti­tion which is just the stu­dents based on how well they can han­dle the an­i­mals, there were judges mak­ing a live weight as­sess­ment as well and we ac­tu­ally got a cham­pion do­mes­tic an­i­mal in that but it didn’t cut up as well as ex­pected, then there’s the hook com­pe­ti­tion which is the most pres­ti­gious one and that’s where the an­i­mals are hung up put on a hook and the judges as­sess them,” Mr Webb ex­plained.

Ruther­glen High School has been en­ter­ing the Royal Mel­bourne Show for eight years and have slowly built up from only hav­ing a cou­ple of an­i­mals in the early days to this year’s 14.

There were three classes of an­i­mals based on weight, with the Ruther­glen High School win­ning the Cham­pion Ex­port Car­case. One of the three win­ners of the weight di­vi­sions then be­came the grand cham­pion car­case.

Mr Webb said the tro­phy, awarded for be­ing cast as the high­est placed school steer, was a “fan­tas­tic” achieve­ment.

“Be­cause we’re up against what you would call pro­fes­sional farm­ers, they re­ward the schools but we also man­aged to win the whole thing,” he said.

“It was a shock. You’re given a bit of a phone call say­ing ‘can you be at the re­wards cer­e­mony?’, but you’re not told any­thing about what you’re re­ceiv­ing.

“I thought when we were go­ing down there that we may have won one of the classes, but had no idea we would be win­ning the whole com­pe­ti­tion.

“It was a sur­prise. I’m re­ally happy for our two school cap­tains Jemma Holmes and Jess Oates who did a re­mark­able job help­ing with the feed­ing and the parad­ing. I am also happy for the Ruther­glen High School be­cause this is a big com­pe­ti­tion so for a small school such as ours – 270 kids – to come out on top over­all is a great ef­fort for the town and the school.”

There were 187 cat­tle mainly from NSW and VIC, rang­ing from agri­cul­tural col­leges, pri­vate breed­ers and high schools.

The cri­te­ria for how each an­i­mal was judged was as out­line by Meat Stan­dards Aus­tralia, who take into con­sid­er­a­tion car­case weight, ma­tu­rity, hang­ing method, meat colour, rib fat mea­sure­ment, fat colour, eye mus­cle area, in­di­vid­ual cut and eat­ing qual­ity too.

Mr Webb said although it is a com­pe­ti­tion, it is also a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and was a good op­por­tu­nity to gain some valu­able feed­back.

“The stu­dents will mainly ben­e­fit from feed­back given from a pa­raders point of view and how well they’re able to han­dle an­i­mals,” he said.

“There are also dif­fer­ent feed­ing regimes that each of the peo­ple use, so depend­ing on how the re­sults go de­pends on how well you’ve fed the an­i­mals.

“For ex­am­ple, some of the lighter an­i­mals didn’t have the rib fat colour that I would’ve liked, but we had four an­i­mals in the top 14 of the ex­port com­pe­ti­tion which means we’re do­ing some­thing good with the feed­ing. But from a feed­ing point of view I’ll be look­ing at what I was do­ing with some of the lighter an­i­mals and ad­just­ing that.”

Mr Webb thanked ev­ery­one who had some sort of in­put into this year’s re­sults, in­clud­ing Alpine An­gus, Welling­ton Live­stock, Le Martres Beef, Lance Lux­ford and Gran­ite Ridge.

Ruther­glen High School beat 187 other car­cases to win the Grand Cham­pion Car­case Award at the 2018 Royal Mel­bourne Show with an Alpine An­gus steer.

Ron Webb (mid­dle) was ec­static with the end re­sults for Ruther­glen High School, which saw them take the top award at this year’s Royal Mel­bourne Show.

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