Santa a show stopper

Aidan Richters and show officials with a 14-month-old Talgai Santa Gertrudis bull, which won Supreme Champion Tropical Breed at this year's Boonah Show.

By Fiona Gowers

Over 25 years, Jamie Gadsby has refined his routine for preparing show cattle. And, he’s confident he now has the winning formula.

As calves are born, he studies their features and makes a mental note as to which ones to watch as they develop.

Mr Gadsby said growth-to-age was a key indicator for show success, as was thickness through the calves “and that special bit of eye appeal”.

During weaning at about 10 months, he earmarks stock selected for public life and increases his interaction with those animals.

“We hand-feed them just to give them that trust,” Mr Gadsby said. “We don’t lock our cattle up and they get in a pattern so, in the afternoon, we feed them just once a day.

“So, they just come up to us and we’ll give them some feed and they actually stand there at the bottom of the feed trough and wait for us. My mother’s job is to feed the babies. She loves it.

“I have found it (hand-feeding) really helps the process when I go to put halters on. I’ve noticed a big difference. So, that’s how we sort of start them.”

Mr Gadsby selects six bulls for his show team and three to four heifers.

“I try to do more bulls because, at the end of the day, that’s what we’re trying to sell,” he said.

“So, I try to pull the best six bulls out because it’s a showpiece of the stud and they have to be your best.”

Mr Gadsby currently prepares show cattle for Max and Roz Baldwin who own Talgai Santa Gertrudis stud, which his father, Malcolm has managed for 20 years.

He also runs his own stud comprising six breeders on the same Beaudesert property.

“I just love the cattle and I am so grateful to Dad’s boss for the opportunity,” Mr Gadsby said.

“It’s hard living in Brisbane because I am a country boy from Chinchilla who had to move there for work reasons.”

To prepare for the Ekka, Mr Gadsby takes his show team comprising a senior bull, four junior bulls, cow and calf and some heifers to local shows, including Gatton and Boonah.

He said he could start showing the stock from 10 months but he preferred to wait until they were aged between 11 and 16 months.

“I have always been a believer that you have to go to those little shows a) to support them and b) I find it critical for the breaking in process for our cattle.

“You can do as much as you want at home and get them as cool as you want. But, you still don’t know until you take them out, you know, until you test them at a show.”

Mr Gadsby said while the Ekka was expensive – $1000 for eight nominations plus another $3000 for accommodation and entertainment – it more than paid for itself.

“Marketing-wise, bulls-wise, yes it is valuable,” he said. “We’ve actually sold bulls, well not sold bulls there but people have said, ‘I saw your bull at the Ekka and I liked him’.

“That’s probably the only reason why my Dad lets me do it. He sees the value in it too, in terms of that marketing.

“The social side is all good – you make lifelong friends out of showing – but, at the end of the day, if your bulls are making money, that’s why you do it.

“It keeps your stud in the public eye. That’s where I see the value in it. And, you’ve got to love doing it. That’s why a lot of studs don’t show because they don’t enjoy it. That’s their decision.”

Mr Gadsby said achieving success at shows brings him so much joy.

“It’s a good feeling if you do well in the ring,” he said. “It’s a big moment, particularly if you get a broad ribbon, they’re very, very hard to get in the Santa Gertrudis breed.

“I started (showing) back when I was in year 10 and I turn 40 next year. I have shown Herefords, Charollais and Shorthorns.

“But you can’t go past Santa Gertrudis. They are such a reliable breed and I am looking forward to taking our show team to the Ekka this year.”