Success in the show ring follows flooding
WHILE the January floods had a huge impact on his dairy herd, Warwick dairy cattle producer Bill Lester has tasted success in the show ring at the Toowoomba Royal Show last week.
With Illawarra's being the feature breed at this year's Toowoomba Show, there was a very strong line-up of quality dairy cattle, and Mr Lester exhibited the Reserve Champion Junior Female in the Illawarra Feature Show.
Mr Lester and his son, Andrew, trading as Eight Mile Agricultural Trust, operate St Andrews Illawarra Stud, on their 485 hectare aggregation, and won the broad ribbon with their two year old heifer, St Andrews Rose 157.
Rose earlier won the two and a half to three year old in-milk class, and went on to be narrowly beaten for the champion title.
The animals are milking very well and, if we can maintain the current rate of progress, we will be Australia's most productive dairy breed by 2030.
Mr Lester said Rose was the only cow he exhibited at this year's Toowoomba Show. He normally takes a team.
"We were badly affected by the floods in January," he said. "About one-third of our property was under water to a depth of several feet.
"All told, we lost about seven cows from associated sickness due to the floods."
While the flood was a setback for the family dairy, Mr Lester was thrilled with the success of Rose, up against such strong competition.
"The quality of Illawarras on show demonstrates the productivity of modern genetics in the breed," he said.
"The animals are milking very well and, if we can maintain the current rate of progress, we will be Australia's most productive dairy breed by 2030."
Mr Lester felt the future boded well for the breed, with the blend of modern genetics.
"This, coupled with maintaining the disease resistance, heat tolerance, calving ease and mastitis resistance bodes very well," he said.
The bloodlines on which Mr Lester's St Andrews herd is based, pre-date the Illawarra herd book. They originated from Grayleigh Gem, which was the original family line from the 1900s," he said.
"From the Gem family we produced champions in Brisbane and I had the pleasure of leading out the Supreme Champion Female of the Brisbane Ekka in 1990.
"That cow, Avonhill Dale 2nd, was a Clifton bred cow, bred by the Ranger family, and it demonstrates the depth of breeding in Darling Downs dairy herds."
Mr Lester said during the past 10-15 years he had cut back on showing but always looked forward to the Toowoomba Show and this year was no different.
The Queensland Illawarra Society conducted the Illawarra Impact Sale at the show on Friday night, with St Andrews Rose 157 selling for $5800, the third top price of the sale.
Mr Lester's heifer was bought by North Queensland buyers, with the top priced heifer bought by Victorian buyers for $7500.
"I was aiming at the commercial market, as we need to get good cattle into our commercial herds," Mr Lester said.
Another Warwick exhibitor, Myrtleholme Illawarra Stud, owned by the Bourke family, had success at the Illawarra feature show, exhibiting the Honourable Mention Champion Senior Female of the show.
Ten-year-old Myrtleholme Ailsa 14, earlier won her cow over seven years in milk class.
Stud principal Shane Bourke said it would probably be Ailsa's last show, having won Champion Cow at Toowoomba in 2011 and 2012, and this year Honourable Mention Champion.