End of an era for Keith at Adelaide Show

Keith Bennett steps down from Adelaide Show beef committee

Beef
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After 42 years on the RA&HS of SA's beef cattle committee, retired Poll Hereford breeder Keith Bennett has called it a day, proud of the changes he has been part of.

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The beef cattle judging ring at the Royal Adelaide Show holds many happy memories for Keith Bennett, both as an exhibitor and Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Society of SA beef councillor.

RELATED: Heatherdale's final chapter set to unfold

But after 42 years helping run the successful beef cattle section, the former Poll Hereford breeder is stepping down.

His family's Heatherdale stud made its debut in Adelaide in 1956, just two years after Keith's father Les established the stud at Myponga.

"Dad went with one of his mates who was a Shorthorn breeder for a drive to Munduney (at Spalding) and came home having bought 15 Hereford heifers and being the biggest buyer," he said.

"He was running commercial Herefords at that stage but decided they (the cattle) were too cheap and was then convinced to register them."

Showing their Poll Hereford cattle was a labour of love for Keith, his wife Laurice and their three daughters, Joanne, Michelle and Nicole, for decades until their final year showing in 2004.

The Bennetts' extensive broad ribbon accolades included two Barton Steer perpetual trophies, which were awarded to the grand champion Poll Hereford bull and required three wins to secure the trophy.

They also got their name twice on a third Barton Steer trophy.

One of their most memorable wins was with Heatherdale Arrow, a bull that was sold privately at the Royal Adelaide Show in 1987 to Ingawarra stud, Keith, the day after judging for a showgrounds record of $75,000.

And while Arrow won breed champion that year, the bull was unlucky to miss out on the interbreed title.

It wouldn't be the show without livestock - whether it is goats, chooks or cattle. - KEITH BENNETT

"Every other judge placed Arrow first but this one English judge put him 10th so he didn't win," he said.

"I could have knocked the bowler hat from his head and stomped on it."

Arrow went on to win supreme champion at the Royal Melbourne Show a few weeks later and all breeds champion at the Sydney Royal Easter Show the following year.

Even after selling the Heatherdale stud to fellow Poll Hereford breeders Allan and Heather Morgan, Morganvale stud, in 2006 and retiring to Victor Harbor, Keith remained on the beef cattle committee.

Through the years he believes the committee has been forward thinking, introducing a schools led steers competition well ahead of similar youth programs in the sheep and goat sections, as well as the early adoption of fat and eye muscle scanning for bull entries.

One area Keith continues to oppose though is the introduction of crossbred cattle to the led steer competition.

"I feel like it is one place purebred steers can compete against other purebreds on a level playing field," he said.

Keith acknowledges the days of huge classes that he remembers in his youth, when judging was on the main arena, may be gone.

But he says the show ring is still very relevant as a "display front", especially for new breeders looking to establish a client base.

"Shows have still got to be there to allow comparison between breeds more than anything too," he said. "And it wouldn't be a royal show without livestock - whether it is goats, chooks or cattle.

"We'll really miss not having the show this year but next year we'll make sure we're back with the caravan by September."

Beef cattle committee chairman David Copping said Keith's wealth of knowledge gained during a lifetime of involvement in the cattle industry was invaluable and his opinions were well respected.

"After 42 years as a beef cattle councillor he has left huge boots to fill and his passion for beef cattle will be missed by us all," he said.

Replacing Keith will be Willalooka Red Angus breeder Mark Llewellyn.

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